Financial institutions say emergency law should be clearer and less burdensome for banks

Banks and credit unions want more clarity about how special powers will affect customer accounts the next time emergency laws are invoked, a congressional committee said Thursday. I asked

Representatives of the Canadian Bankers Association and the Canadian Credit Union Association testified before an all-party committee investigating the effects of the Act’s powers when it was invoked last winter.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a public protest on February 14 to stop protesters from blocking the streets and several border crossings in downtown Ottawa, citing their opposition to COVID-19 public health restrictions. Declared a state of order emergency.

The law gave police, governments and banks extraordinary powers, including the power to freeze the accounts of those involved in protests.

The commission heard that in the first few days after the federal emergency was declared, some customers began withdrawing large sums from their credit union accounts out of fear that the government would seize their money.

Some of these withdrawals amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars, said Michael Hatch, vice president of government relations at the Credit Union Association.

Of course there was panic and people didn’t know what the order meant,” Hatch told the commission on Thursday.

Ultimately, the order affected a relatively small number of customers, the commission said: about 10 at credit union accounts and only 180 at banks.

But customers weren’t the only ones who had questions about backup power and its functionality.

The RCMP provides banks with a list of names and Finance institution I was instructed to freeze my account due to my involvement in protests.

But banks have also been ordered to use their own monitoring systems to determine whether customers are involved in protests, and have also been ordered to freeze their accounts, said Angelina, a bankers association attorney. Mason explained: There were no specific standards given to banks by the government on how to do that.

Finance institution We don’t need to be put in a position to decide whether the conduct is illegal,” Mason told the commission.

The Bankers Association asked the government if there were exemptions for certain accounts and scenarios, such as child support payments, but was told there were none.

This contrasts with systems set up to enforce government-mandated sanctions, Mason said.

The association asked the finance department for more details, but the situation was immediately deemed moot as the order was canceled on February 23rd.

Mason said that as soon as the order was lifted, all accounts were unfrozen, except those that were frozen as part of the court order.

An all-party congressional committee was struck to investigate how the powers were used, working in parallel with the Public Order Emergency Committee, an independent investigation headed by Justice Paul Rouleaux.

The commission also plans to investigate the role of fundraising platforms in the protests, but the effort came to a head on Thursday when GiveSendGo co-founder Jacob Wells showed up more than an hour late to give his testimony. With only 10 minutes left to listen, I was stuck.

When he logged in for his virtual appearance, he cited a family emergency.

Chairman NDP MP Matthew Green initially told the committee that Wells had declined to attend the virtual committee, just minutes before he stormed into Ottawa in the second half. He was expected to be questioned by MPs about his involvement in fundraising for the “Freedom Convoy” protest. January.

Wells was closely involved in fundraising for protest organizers, but most of the $12 million raised on the GiveSendGo platform was eventually returned to donors.

His testimony is scheduled to be postponed to December 1st.

canadian press