New financial power to quell Ottawa trackers protests unnecessary overkill, critics say


One expert states that freezing a protester’s bank account is a “form of social death” and sets a dangerous precedent for future protests in Canada.

The federal government’s move to use a wide range of new financial powers to quell truck driver protests, called extreme and unnecessary overkill by financial crime experts, is as banks block funds. I don’t know how to be instructed by.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland Said on February 14th Crowdfunding platforms and the payment service providers they use are subject to Money Laundering Prevention and Terrorism Financing Acts with changes to all forms of transactions, including cryptocurrencies. In addition, financial institutions are required to freeze individual and corporate accounts of customers suspected of being involved in the “illegal blockade” of Freedom Convoy.

The move took place on February 14, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau enacted an emergency law for the first time in Canada’s history with the aim of curbing the momentum of protests.

Protests by the main convoys in Ottawa have attracted a large number of supporters since they began on January 29. It has triggered other protests at the Canadian-US border crossings in Alberta, Ontario, Manitoba, and BC.

Epoch Times Photo
Food and necessities donated to truck drivers will be left next to the truck parked in front of Parliament Hill in Ottawa on February 6, 2022. (NoƩ Charter / The Epoch Times)

Freeland said criminal proceeds (money laundering) and the expanded financial power created under the Terrorist Financing Act “has a great deal of damage to Canada’s economy” and is seriously damaging democracy. To the agency, which she said was necessary to end the obstruction of the protest, and to Canada’s international status. “

She said that trucks remaining in protest stopped insurance and owners because the bank was instructed to “review relationships with those involved in the illegal blockade and report to RCMP or CCIS. Freeze corporate accounts. ” [Canadian Security Intelligence Service].. “

Organizers of Ottawa’s Freedom Convoy say their protests are peaceful.

“We maintain peace, but [COVID-19] The mission has been decisively completed, “Tamara Rich, the organizer of Freedom Convoy, said at a press conference on February 14.

Potential economic ruin

Akaash Maharaj, the ambassador of a global organization of anti-corruption parliamentarians, said the law was originally designed for terrorists and cross-border organized crime, covering protesters and freezing financial accounts. He said the expansion could be long-term. Long-term financial collapse for affected people.

“In the economy of the 21st century, it is a form of social death, [a flagged truck protester] To keep a job, get a home, or pay for his basic needs, “Maharaj told the Epoch Times.

Bank-tagged protesters find it nearly impossible to convince other financial institutions to accept them as customers, as Canadian financial institutions are notorious for hating risk. I said I would. This will reduce the ability to raise funds for bank accounts, credit cards, and mortgages, even after the emergency law expires in 30 days, depending on whether Congress revokes or extends the declaration in the coming weeks.

“I hope this is applied carefully and carefully by the banks,” he said. “But I advise [the protesters] Think very carefully about whether this is the price you are willing to pay. “

Vanessa Iafora, a financial crime consultant who specializes in fraud, money laundering, and terrorist financing issues, said the enforcement of emergency legislation was not perfectly balanced with the threat of protesters and was serious. Emergency situations and national security compromise.

“I believe these new forces are widespread and not a necessary step in maintaining public order and morals,” she told The Epoch Times.

There has never been a use of a Canadian private financial company that violates urgent public order and morals. Iafolla said these new measures could increase banks’ oversight of some politically-based people.

Epoch Times Photo
Children will participate in the Freedom Convoy protest in Ottawa on February 9, 2022, against the obligations and restrictions of COVID-19. (Jonathan Ren / The Epoch Times)

Halifax-based criminologists can take this action against future protests in Canada, as governments on both sides of the political aisle can economically target protesters because of their political beliefs. Set a dangerous precedent.

“In vibrant and mature democracy, citizens and governments should be able to tolerate disagreements and disagreements, and our charter right to protest is abandoned in such a hard-working and undemocratic way. Should not be, “she said.

Under the law, banks can even target donors in truck protest fundraising, but Iafolla says it’s still unclear how banks will proceed.

In addition, there is no appeal process for bank behavior. What she says is a concern for Canadians.

Target protesters and donors

Canada’s “Big Five” Banks (Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion Bank, Scotiabank, Bank of Montreal, Canadian Imperial Bank), along with other insurers and financial institutions, did not immediately answer questions from the Epoch Times. .. How to implement the new directive.

Kate Moseley-Williams, a spokeswoman for Intact Financial Corporation, said the company is carefully considering the announcement and is waiting for details.

Matthew McGuire, a forensic accountant and money laundering prevention expert who helps financial institutions assess and reduce financial crime, is a co-founder of AML Shop, a corporate compliance company in Toronto. He states that the urgent order puts financial service providers in a position to act as arbitrators, whether or not individuals are legally protesting.

He states that in the past, simple suspicions of illegal transactions could cause banks to break relationships with individuals or groups.

“”[Banks] We will continue to act conservatively in this regard to avoid fines, penalties and regulatory anger, “McGaia said in an email. “Unfortunately, we have observed governments around the world curbing complaints by misusing money laundering measures.”

By targeting individual protesters and donors, government strategies can help thwart the emergence of new crowdfunding options, which can be effective in ending protests. He said there was.

However, protest organizers say online that they are looking at other funding options, such as cryptocurrency fundraiser and their own crypto token called “F”.reedom convoy token.. “

Under government urgent law, the funding and cryptocurrency platform is now expected to report to Canada’s Financial Transactions and Reporting Analysis Center (FINTRAC).

Many entities, such as chartered banks, credit unions, insurance companies, and securities dealers, already need to report to the financial intelligence unit, but this is the first time FINTRAC has dominated the crypto exchange with fundraiser in Canada.

Ottawa-based Maharaj said this was a serious gap in the bill and should be filled regardless of protests.

Protesters initially raised $ 10 million in GoFundMe before the crowdfunding platform unplugged on February 4. The organizer has pivoted to launch a campaign on GiveSend Go. In this campaign, the Ontario High Court is the state government.

Jared Gnam

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Jared Gnam is a Vancouver-based reporter.

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