Y2K - Canada Ready
To Invoke Updated War
Measures Act
By Mark Dunn
The Toronto Sun

Prime Minister Jean Chretien's government will be on full Y2K alert New Year's Eve and ready to invoke an updated War Measures Act if needed, sources have told the Sun.
The Emergencies Act, which was passed in 1988, gives cabinet sweeping powers to issue whatever orders or regulations it believes are necessary to deal with emergencies such as major power outages caused by computer glitches or civil insurrections, major riots and prison revolts.
Depending on the emergency -- such as a nuclear accident -- manpower, vehicles, equipment, food and clothing could be mobilized.
Failure to comply could lead to fines and prison terms of up to five years.
The Defence Department has shelled out $700,000 for generators to thwart possible Y2K power failures.
Public Works has fenced in the four rented diesel generators housed in tractor trailers beside defence headquarters to power its crisis centre. The Defence Department has also tapped about 11,000 reservists and 14,000 regular forces to work starting Dec. 27 through New Year's Day. Everyone else is on call.
"Against the worst, DND has to be prepared," defence spokesman Maj. John Blakely said of the $386-million Y2K preparedness plan.
"They can't arrest you just for something they think you've done, but they can arrest you for not obeying the (emergency) regulations they've made," a government insider said.
Chretien has ordered eight key cabinet ministers to be in Ottawa to handle any crises when the clock strikes midnight Dec. 31.
Senior officials are loath to acknowledge the potential for disaster and say Canada is nearly fully compliant to respond to Y2K problems.
They are even more reluctant to discuss the potential for terrorist threats, mass suicides and crackpots looking to enter the afterlife in a blaze of glory.
"We don't respond to hypothetical situations," said Valerie de Montigny of the Privy Council Office.
Governor General Adrienne Clarkson is responsible for invoking the act, which sets off a chain of events including the recall of Parliament.
At least 10 MPs and 15 senators would have to be in attendance to approve the emergency law.
Four key cabinet ministers -- Treasury Board's Lucienne Robillard, Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy, Industry's John Manley and Defence Minister Art Eggleton -- will run the show.
Sources say senators -- besides the 10 or so who live in the region -- have been warned to be prepared to come to Ottawa.


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