Federal government takes aim at Freedom Convoy funding

Banks handed the authority to freeze accounts

Federal government takes aim at Freedom Convoy funding

Following more than two weeks of disruption caused by the Freedom Convoy protests in Ottawa, Canadian Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland has announced stiff financial restrictions aimed at blocking financial aid to the movement.

Under the new measures, which were enabled under the never-before-invoked Emergencies Act, banks in Canada now have the government’s authorization to freeze accounts suspected of sponsoring the blockades and revoke insurance on cars that are participating in the protests.

“We are making these changes because we know that these platforms are being used to support illegal blockades and illegal activity which is damaging the Canadian economy,” Reuters quoted Freeland as saying.

Several groups slammed the move. Among those was the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, which said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act without meeting the required standard.

“Governments regularly deal with difficult situations and do so using powers granted to them by democratically elected representatives. Emergency legislation should not be normalized. It threatens our democracy and our civil liberties,” the association tweeted.

In addition, it said that such legislation can only be used when a situation emerges that "threatens the government of Canada's ability to protect Canada's sovereignty, security, and territorial integrity in a serious way."

Premiers from Alberta, Quebec, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan also criticized the decision, with only Ontario premier Doug Ford backing it.

The emergency measures would also require crowdfunding platforms and payment services related to them to register with FINTRAC, adding another layer of oversight to possibly suspicious transactions.

Even before that, crowdfunding platforms were under pressure to withdraw support from the protests. According to News18, the Christian site GiveSendGo was barred from supporting the Freedom Convoy rallies by a Canadian court last week, though the site said it will not comply. Prior to that, GoFundMe decided to block donations to the movement, promising to refund the donors.

TD Bank also froze two accounts where a total of $1.1 million in contributions to the protests went. Despite the massive infusion, Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) said it saw no increase in "suspect" transaction reports, according to CTV.