Canada protest supporters may have financial accounts frozen - or may not


Confusion surrounds who has had their bank account frozen for financially supporting the recent so-called 'Freedom Convoy' protests in Canada.

The Canadian government says 76 bank accounts consisting of about $2.4 million (CAN$3.2 million) were frozen by authorization under the Emergencies Act, invoked Feb. 14 by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The act gave temporary extra powers to police to help clear truck blockades, and those powers included the freezing of bank accounts of those involved in the protests. The blockades were set up in various locations in Canada as protests against COVID-19 health regulations.

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said Saturday the new powers provided "powerful financial disincentives" to dissuade protesters from involvement in blockades like the one that paralyzed Canada’s capital city of Ottawa for three weeks.

The freezing of bank accounts of convoy supporters who had only donated small amounts caused a furor.

On Monday, a British Columbia member of parliament, Mark Strahl, claimed that a woman had complained to him that her bank account had been frozen after she contributed CAN$50 ($40) to the convoy.

The allegation has not been proven, and the government and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) disputed any such claims.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said the bank account freeze targeted only people directly involved in the protests, not individual donors who were not participants.

The RCMP issued a statement Monday that said: "At no time did we provide a list of donors to financial Institutions."

The only account names given to banks to freeze belonged to "individuals and companies suspected of involvement in illegal acts," people like "influencers in the illegal protest in Ottawa" and owners or drivers of vehicles who would not leave the area when ordered by police, the RCMP statement said.

By Monday afternoon, the number of frozen accounts or assets had risen to 219, affecting 57 individuals and organizations, the RCMP said. Also included was "the account of a payment processor for a value of CAN$3.8 million ($2.98 million) by a financial institution." 

The RCMP did not further explain what that meant. []

Source: Anadolu

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