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Declaring an Emergency

How different is the United States from Canada? With the recent declaration of National Emergency by Prime Minister Trudeau, I’ve been curious about how National Emergencies work within the United States. Comparing the requirements of Canada’s Emergency Act with that of the United States shows that Canada has much more precise definitions, requirements for oversight and time constraints.

United StatesCanada
The United States has no definition for an emergency in the Emergency Act (We do not have a definition written into our laws)A national emergency is temporary, urgent and critical. It either seriously endangers Canadians and is more than what a province can handle or it “seriously threatens the ability of the government to preserve the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of Canada”
Declared by the President, or by CongressDeclared by the Governor in Council (which, translates to the Prime Minister and his Cabinet)
Not divided by type, since it isn’t defined. But there are some sort-of type specific laws, such as the Public health Service Act and the Disaster Relief Act and the International Emergency Economic Powers ActDivided into Four Types of Emergencies
-A Public Welfare Emergency
-A Public Order Emergency
-An International Emergency
-A War Emergency
The President isn’t required by law to consult anyone. The state Governors can request a declaration of National Emergency.Provincial Governments must be consulted before the emergency is declared
The President must publish the proclamation of National Emergency immediately in the Federal RegisterA motion for the confirmation of emergency (with an explanation and a report on the consultation with the provincial governments) must be provided to Parliament within seven sitting days
No more than six months after declaration, congress must vote to determine whether or not to terminate the emergencyParliament must vote to confirm (or not confirm) the Declaration of National Emergency
The President can declare the National Emergency overThe Governor in Council may declare the National Emergency over
Congress must consider terminating the emergency every six months the emergency continues.

It may also vote to end the National Emergency at any time (Provided it makes it through committee)
Parliament must vote on continuing the declaration of emergency each time it is requested (every 30-120 days, depending on the type of emergency.

It may also vote to end the National Emergency at any time (provided sufficient people sign the motion)
The President can declare the National Emergency will continue in the ninety days before it automatically expiresAt any time before the automatic expiration, the government may continue the declaration (and parliament must vote on it)
The National Emergency expires automatically after a yearAutomatic Expiration date dependent on type: Public Welfare Emergency expires in 90 days (unless renewed), a Public Order Emergency expires in 30 days, an International Emergency expires in 60 days, and a War Emergency expires in 120 days
President must maintain a file of all significant orders issued during the emergency and provide copies to congress promptlyAny government actions to respond to the emergency must be tabled in Parliament two days after they are issued. Parliament must establish a committee to review them.
*Not a legal scholar of any kind- so there’s always the possibility of mistakes. There is the additional difficulty that being unfamiliar with Canadian Government presents.

In Canada, a national emergency is clearly defined, while in the United States the definition a national emergency is far more nebulous. The President of the United States is subject to fewer time constraints and overall less explicit oversight.

That doesn’t mean the President has more powers. Upon examination of those, it’s evident that the Canadian Prime Minister has far broader powers in the event of an emergency.

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