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A group involved in the anti-government protest against COVID-19 measures in Ottawa is asking a court to put the brakes on federal use of the Emergencies Act to clamp down on demonstrators.

In submissions Friday to the Federal Court, Canadian Frontline Nurses and member Kristen Nagle seek an injunction staying the Liberal government’s use of the emergencies law and associated measures while their full case plays out in court.

The group and Nagle say they are opposed to “unreasonable” COVID-19-related mandates and restrictions that have been implemented by various levels of Canadian governments.

They want a court declaration that the federal government strayed beyond its jurisdiction in declaring a public order emergency earlier this week, saying the move was unconstitutional.

The applicants also seek all orders-in-council, minutes of meetings, cabinet submissions, memorandums, agreements and constituting documents relating to the public order emergency proclamation.

As of late Friday, no date had been set to hear the motion for an injunction. Federal officials had yet to file a response to the court application.

Canadian Frontline Nurses, billing itself as a “proud advocate of medical freedom,” is not to be confused with the Canadian Nurses Association, which advocates mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for health-care workers.

The court filing came as police officers made dozens of arrests and towed many vehicles in downtown Ottawa in an effort to end what police call an illegal protest.

Protesters, many with large trucks, have occupied central Ottawa streets for three weeks, prompting many businesses to shut their doors and aggravating residents with noise, diesel fumes and harassing behaviour.

Police say they took action to end the occupation using tools and authorities made available through the federal invocation of the Emergencies Act.

The law allows for temporary measures including regulation and prohibition of public assemblies, the designation of secure places, direction to banks to freeze assets and a ban on support for participants.

The Canadian Constitution Foundation and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association also said this week that they would go to court to challenge the government’s use of the Emergencies Act.

In the court submissions, Canadian Frontline Nurses and Nagle, a registered nurse and director of the group, say they back the Ottawa protest as peaceful participants and supporters.

“CFN and Nagle denounce violence and do not view violence as a legitimate means of expression or as a means of achieving one’s political ends.”

They argue there is no public order emergency as defined in the Emergencies Act, and that provincial and federal authorities had the capacity to deal with any threat to public health, safety or security through laws that were already in force.

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