Ontario Government Freezes Access to Millions of Dollars in Donations for Trucker ‘Freedom Convoy’: Report

by Matthew Memrick

Canadian officials turned their crackdown on Freedom Convoy truckers up, reportedly restricting access to millions of dollars in donations.

The Ontario government successfully got a court to halt donations through the online fundraising platform GiveSendGo to convoy protestors in Ottawa and several other border crossings.

The Global Canadian Television Network reported that the Freedom Convoy truckers lost access to the money this week.

Thursday’s Superior Court of Justice order makes it illegal to distribute donations made through GiveSendGo’s “Freedom Convoy 2022” and “Adopt-a-Trucker” pages.

Spokeswoman Ivana Yelich said a portion of the criminal code gives Attorney General David Lametti the power to issue a restraining order against any “offence-related property.”

Freedom Convoy Truckers United, Raise Money For Protesting

Two weeks ago, the Freedom Convoy truckers came to Ottawa to protest COVID-19 mandates and health restrictions. Their movement seemingly spread to other Canadian provinces. They came to Alberta, Manitoba, and Ontario before becoming global in the United States, France, New Zealand, and Australia.

There had been a cat-and-mouse game between Freedom Convoy truckers and government officials over funds. At first, police threatened to take action against those giving aid to Ottawa truckers.

The truckers took to the internet, raising $10 million through GoFundMe. Last Friday, that online fundraising website announced it was shutting down trucker campaigns and refunding the money.

Site executives said they initially thought the protest would be peaceful. In days, they backed out when police and local officials labeled the rally an “occupation.”

The Freedom Convoy truckers found Christian fundraising site GiveSendGo to set up new campaigns and raised more than $9 million.

GiveSendGo executives thumbed their noses at the Canadian government on Twitter, saying, “Know this! Canada has absolutely ZERO jurisdiction over how we manage our funds here at GiveSendGo.”

The Delaware-based donations company announced that “all funds from every campaign on GiveSendGo flow directly to the recipients of those campaigns, not least of which is The Freedom Convoy campaign.”

Freedom Convoy protest organizers also got involved in Bitcoin to generate funds and avoid possible fundraising shutdowns. They held an online news conference Wednesday to tell supporters of their protests.

But Thursday’s move in Ontario negates all that work.

Government Learns It Can’t Regulate Crowdfunding Sites

While Ontario cracked down on Thursday, a House of Commons committee learned from Canada’s financial intelligence hub that the country had limits to what it could enforce.

Fintrac, or the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, can identify terrorist financing and money laundering through reports.

It can pass important information along to authorities. But it can’t look into potential crimes or stop money from “flowing.” Deputy director Barry MacKillop said he couldn’t regulate crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe. That means his agency can’t get reports of suspicious transactions.

MacKillop can get reports from banks and payment services that send money to these crowdfunding websites.

The director told officials that there has not been a rise in reported suspicious transactions but does not talk with the police about any financial disclosures. 

When the question of anonymity came up, or the way users could cloak their names from public view in making donations, MacKillop stressed the Freedom Convoy contributions are still known to authorities. When GoFundMe offered refunds recently, the company had to know who the recipients of refunding money were.