Canada uses Emergencies Act to reign in ‘Freedom Convoy’ crowdfunds

Deepak Gupta February 15, 2022
Updated 2022/02/15 at 12:41 AM

After weeks of occupation that paralyzed the nation’s capital and other cities across the country, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today invoked Canada’s Emergency Act to respond to the “Freedom Train” protests. The law gives the federal government additional temporary powers to deal with critical situations and has not been used since its creation in 1988. Press conference Trudeau said he would use the Emergencies Act to control the protests through a variety of methods — including an expansion of Canada’s money laundering laws to cover crowdfunding platforms and cryptocurrency transactions.

Starting today, Canada will require crowdfunding companies to register with the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Center of Canada (FINTRAC) and report suspicious payments. The government too empowered banks to freeze funds they believe are going to “Freedom Comvoy”.

“We’re not using the Emergency Act to call in the military,” Trudeau said. His father, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, invoked the War Measures Act, a precursor to the Emergencies Act, to call in the Canadian Forces during the war. October Crisis in 1970.

THE Guardian described “trucks and cars of convoy members […] honking and blocking traffic” all the time. Protesters also broke into businesses without a mask, despite orders to the contrary. In addition to protesting in Ottawa and other cities across the country, protesters blocked critical US-Canada border crossings. The decision to invoke the Emergency Act comes shortly after the Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrested 11 people linked to the protest and seized their stash of guns and other weapons, according to the New York Times.

Funding for the protest came from a variety of sources, including GoFundMe. before the company suspended the Freedom Train campaign, grossed over $10 million Canadian dollars (approximately $7.88 million USD). GoFundMe refunded all donors after the company determined that the campaign violated its terms of service. Since then, Freedom Convoy supporters have turned to other crowdfunding platforms, including GiveSendGo. On Sunday, the website was hacked and personal information of those who contributed to the campaign was leaked online. Analysis by extremism researcher Amarnath Amarasingam indicated that 56 percent of donors who contributed to the campaign came from the US.

Once invoked, the Emergencies Act takes effect immediately. However, the government must go to Parliament within seven days to gain support for the action from both the House of Commons and the Senate of Canada. If either body votes against the motion, the state of emergency is revoked. Trudeau’s Liberal Party does not control a majority of seats in the House of Commons and will need to gain support from at least one of the country’s other federal parties to pass the motion. The Emergencies Act also cannot be extended indefinitely.

“I know people are frustrated. I heard this. You have the right to express your frustration, even your anger, about government policies,” Trudeau said. “But blocking streets and critical infrastructure and depriving your neighbors of their freedom is an entirely different matter. It’s time to stop.”

In the more than two weeks since the “Freedom Train” descended in Ottawa, Canada’s capital has been blocked off by trucks and cars that have made life difficult for residents. Those involved in the movement claim to be protesting against passports and vaccine mandates, but there are these complaints that, in many cases, are mixed with broadly anti-government sentiments.

James Bauder, founder of Canada Unity, one of the organizations at the center of the protests, said on Facebook that Justin Trudeau should be tried for treason. On his website, Canada Unity published a “memorandum of understanding” which required the Canadian government to rescind all vaccine mandates or “RENUGUE your legal positions of authority immediately.” In a video he posted on social media, Bauder said it was his hope that the MoU would persuade Canada’s voting oversight agency to trigger an election — a power it constitutionally lacks. On the 8th of February, the group “withdrawn” the documentstating at the time that he did not want “any unintended interpretation to continue”.

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