Madam Speaker, this reality is threatening the safety of citizens and institutions, and the very sovereignty of this country. We know that this threat is real, and that the online environment is amplifying it. The power of online disinformation can be exemplified by the varied reports of a protester being trampled by a police horse this weekend. A phone call to my office that I picked up on Friday from a distraught constituent, as well as emails, reported that one victim was a woman, or it was a senior woman, or it was a senior woman with a walker, or it was an indigenous elder; that they suffered a shoulder injury; or maybe a horse stepped on their face and throat; or maybe they lost a limb or died. The only consistencies were inconsistencies in those stories.
It is time to get serious about the very dangerous consequences of the spread of disinformation, which gave rise to the length and size of the unlawful occupation in Ottawa, along with occupations and blockades across Canada. Again, I will say that it should not have come to this, but it did.
Let us stop looking backwards in this House and start looking forward and acknowledging the facts we are dealing with. When Ottawa called a state of emergency, it did not stop the lawlessness on our streets. When Ontario called a state of emergency, it did not stop the lawlessness. When indigenous leaders called for the occupiers to go home, they did not. It was only when the Emergencies Act was invoked that finally there was some initial resolution to this unlawful attack on the rights and freedoms of the citizens of Ottawa. The interim chief of the Ottawa police has been clear that without these additional powers, they would not have been able to achieve the outcomes so far.
Many members have spoken about how the threats are now over, but I want to share with this House what is happening in B.C. Protests are building here, and the agitators are increasingly aggressive. The RCMP had to pre-emptively close down the border yesterday and 16 were arrested. Other unlawful activity could not be addressed on the spot, due to a lack of resources.
Here is another really sad security threat. Private citizens are now feeling compelled to stand up against these aggressors. In Vancouver yesterday, convoy supporters and counter-protesters were facing off in the streets. In B.C., at YVR, police presence has been increased, and the cost of maintaining public safety at our borders in these times is mounting. I have to share that in the riding next to mine, the home of the provincial minister of public safety was affronted yesterday by protesters. In B.C., this is far from over.
The NDP takes the invocation of the Emergencies Act under public disorder very seriously. We have said over and over again that we will not give a blank cheque to the government. The government will have to stay within the established powers or we will withdraw any support. We will continue to protect peaceful protesters, including land defenders, and will protect the Charter of Rights for all Canadians.
Going forward, the federal government and all levels of government need to take responsibility for their failures, for not taking seriously the very real safety threats and infringements on rights and freedoms that the majority of Canadians have endured these past weeks. Going forward, they must accept and address the very real threats of intolerance, hate, discrimination and disinformation happening online and manifesting physically in our communities across Canada. These are real threats to the safety and security of every person and the institutions in this country, as well as our democracy and sovereignty.
The NDP has consistently shown leadership during these occupations and has used the tools available as the progressive opposition to act. We have moved motions to investigate and expose weaknesses in crowdfunding platforms, brought forward an emergency debate on the occupation of Ottawa, and tabled bills in this House to address hate and hate symbols. The NDP has shown leadership in standing up for health care workers, frontline and essential workers, and all workers who have gotten us through these two years of difficult, difficult times. We continue to stand up for them.
While the NDP has been focused on solutions, there has been a lack of forward thinking and leadership by the government.
The Liberals have failed in so many ways. They have failed to take seriously the declining standard of living for Canadians. They are no longer in touch with what is really happening in our communities. The years of neglect for the need for affordable housing, of not addressing the climate crisis with urgency, of declining to introduce pharmacare, of not addressing Canadians' high cellphone bills are just a few examples. I could go on.
The government has created an environment in which too many Canadians are hurting, and when people are hurting, when things are desperate, people can easily find themselves being taken advantage of by sinister actors who exploit those vulnerabilities for their personal gain. It is the job of all parliamentarians to protect Canadians from that.
It is late, and in this eleventh hour there is still work to be done to protect Canadians from the very real threat of hate and disinformation that fed off the vulnerabilities of exhausted, scared and anxious Canadians who live in every riding of this country. What manifested in Ottawa, in Coutts, in Windsor, in Surrey and in Winnipeg is no accident. It is well funded and well organized. It is an exploitation of the weaknesses in our government and our government systems that has led to the spread of hate and disinformation, and it is not over yet.
In closing, I must look to the future too, so I call on all my colleagues to support the NDP's private member's bill, Bill C-229, which would prevent anyone from selling and displaying symbols that promote hatred and violence in this country in the future.