Aid to (or of) the Civil Power

Aid to (or of) the Civil Power, the calling out of military troops by the civil authorities to help maintain or restore public order.

Aid to (or of) the Civil Power

Aid to (or of) the Civil Power, the calling out of military troops by the civil authorities to help maintain or restore public order. ACP is not to be confused with martial law (military takeover of government), the War Measures Act (restrictions of civil liberties imposed by Parliament in times of emergency), military assistance to civil authorities in case of disasters, or assistance to Royal Canadian Mounted Police, penitentiaries, customs, etc. It is now considered part of Internal Security Operations, a broader term which comprises RCMP surveillance of enemy agents on Canadian soil and related activity.

In England, a 1360 statute authorized justices of the peace to restrain, arrest and imprison rioters. The first modern Riot Act was proclaimed in 1714. Until 1829, parish constables were responsible for maintaining public order, but they were so few and so poorly trained that army troops had to be called out to repress serious riots. The London Metropolitan Police was created in 1829 to help prevent, rather than repress, public disorders, and in 1856 the Police Act was passed, with specific military functions distinguished from those of the police and of the magistrates.

Following the acquisition of Acadia in 1713 and Canada in 1760, the British army garrison troops in BNA replied to requests for ACP in accordance with their military regulations. In 1868 Canadian laws concerning the police, illegal assembly and riots were enacted, and the Militia Act authorized calling out Canadian troops in ACP. British practice generally remained the model. Regulations and Orders for the Canadian Militia replaced the British ones in 1870. In 1924 the power of calling out troops was moved from local authorities to provincial attorneys general.

From 1796 to 1870 British troops, occasionally helped by local militiamen, provided ACP roughly 100 times. Since then Canadian troops have helped maintain or restore public order 140 times and have helped repress penitentiary riots 20 times. Half the former occurred before 1900, usually because of absence, shortage or improper training of police. Since 1933, troops have not been involved in strikebreaking except under the War Measures Act, and all callouts except one have taken place in Ontario and Québec, which are the only provinces not policed by the RCMP. Over half the penitentiary callouts have occurred since 1962, and in most cases the army did not have to use force. Recent research has helped to prove that Canadian history has witnessed violence; at the same time, military interventions have not usually resulted in the use of undue force. See also Armed Forces : Militia And Army; October Crisis.