Alberta's Critical Infrastructure Defence Act: How is it working?

AuthorSteingard, Jessica

In force since June 17, 2020, the law is meant to protect essential infrastructure from trespassers, damage or interference of any kind.

No one can read or watch the news right now without some mention of the blockade in Coutts, Alberta, or protests in Ottawa, apparently related to the "Freedom Convoy".

To deal with the situation in Alberta, there have been talks about using Alberta's Critical Infrastructure Defence Act. What is this Act and what happens to those who contravene (disobey) it? And how has it been used so far?

What is the Critical Infrastructure Defence Act?

The law came into force on June 17, 2020. It was introduced by the UCP government in February 2020 when blockades over a pipeline dispute in northern British Columbia had shut down much of Canada's rail network.

The legislation is quite short--only five sections. The essence of it is protecting essential infrastructure from trespassers, damage or interference of any kind. This could include protests like the one in B.C.

Essential infrastructure means buildings, plants, roads, facilities and more largely related to oil and gas, utilities (water, electricity, gas, telecommunications, etc.), and agriculture. It also includes highways, railways, and transportation systems (including urban rail transit systems). The long list of infrastructure concludes with a catch-all "a building, structure, device or thing prescribed by the regulations". This means the government can quickly add infrastructure to the list without changing the legislation.

And they did just that in October 2021. The government added hospitals, healthcare facilities and emergency services to the list of essential infrastructure by way of the Critical Infrastructure Defence Regulation. This regulation expires on October 31, 2022 unless government repasses it.

What happens to those who contravene the Act?

A person who contravenes the Act is guilty of an offence. The Act also says anyone who aids, counsels or directs another person to commit an offence is also guilty of an offence. A person suspected of contravening the Act can be arrested by a peace officer without a warrant.

If the offender is an individual (meaning not an artificial person, such as a corporation), they can be:

* for a first offence, fined between $1000 and $10,000, jailed for up to six months, or both

* for a second or later offence related to the same location, fined between $1000 and $25,000, jailed for up to six months, or both

If the...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT