Canadian donors to the Freedom Convoy who gave even small amounts are at risk of having their bank accounts frozen under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Emergencies Act powers.
Department of Finance Assistant Deputy Minister Isabelle Jacques testified in Canada’s Parliament on Tuesday that anyone who donated to the convoy after Trudeau’s February 15 emergency declaration is a potential target for financial penalties. Jacques claimed that law enforcement have stopped requesting bank accounts be frozen since the last of the protesters were cleared from Ottawa’s Parliament Hill on Monday, according to the National Post.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) have denied using the data from crowdfunding sites such as GiveSendGo to target convoy supporters. The RCMP said in a Monday statement that they have only recommended action be taken against key figures identified in the protest and those protesters who refused to leave last week when ordered.
Jacques testified that action had been taken against 206 accounts. MPs critical of Trudeau’s invocation of the Emergencies Act pushed back against Jacques testimony saying that Canadians’ bank accounts were still being frozen.
“Some people’s accounts are being frozen right now,” NDP MP Daniel Blaikie told the assistant deputy Finance minister. “There’s the appearance that some people feel their accounts are being frozen as a result of the emergency orders, in some cases that does not cohere with what we’re hearing from government.”
Conservative MP Philip Lawrence said that the wording of the Emergencies Act grants the federal government far-reaching authority to freeze the accounts of people only tangentially involved in the protest. “The de-banking provisions are so broad, that literally a clerk at a Kwik-E-Mart who sold a propane canister to a protester could have his accounts frozen,” Lawrence said.
“When you freeze someone’s bank account, you’re effectively removing them from society,” he said.
As some Canadian lawmakers continue to accuse Trudeau’s government of overreach in dealing with the protesters, some officials are pushing the prime minister to go further. Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson argued earlier this week that assets seized from the Freedom Convoy, such as trailers, cranes, and trucks, should be sold off and the profit given to the city. Watson said:
You (protesters) have disrupted our city, you’ve hurt our small business community, and this is costing a small fortune for the taxpayers of Ottawa. That’s one of the reasons why under the Emergencies Act, I’ve asked our solicitor and our city manager: How can we keep the tow trucks and the campers and the vans and everything else that we’ve confiscated, and sell those pieces of equipment to help recoup some of the costs that our taxpayers are absorbing? So that’s one of the provisions of the Emergencies Act, and we have been a beneficiary of the Emergencies Act. As they debated on the Hill, I asked the members of Parliament to consider [how] it’s helped us a lot on things like confiscating vehicles, not having to swear in peace officers through the RCMP, and so many other things that have been very helpful over the course of this period.
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