Freeze lifted on bank accounts linked to Canada protests
The Canadian government began lifting a freeze on more than 200 bank accounts linked to recent protests in the country, officials said on Tuesday.
As many as 210 accounts holding nearly $8 million collectively were frozen under authorization from the nation’s Emergencies Act, which was invoked in an effort to quell protests against COVID-19 restrictions, Canadian Assistant Deputy Minister of Finance Isabelle Jacques told a parliamentary committee, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) reported.
But on Tuesday, federal officials told the committee the government was in the process of releasing the hold on most of the accounts, according to the CBC.
“Information was shared by the [Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)] with financial institutions and we were informed yesterday by financial institutions that they were unfreezing the accounts,” Jacque said, according to the outlet.
“The vast majority of accounts are in the process of being unfrozen, subject to any new information that the RCMP may have,” she continued.
Some conservative members of Parliament have said constituents reported that holds were placed on their accounts after they donated to the protests, according to the CBC.
But the RCMP said it only provided banks with the names of convoy organizers and the owners of trucks who had remained in the protest zone in Canada’s capital city of Ottawa, the CBC reported.
The roughly three-week long “Freedom Convoy” protests began with truck drivers protesting a vaccine mandate and went on to spread to cities across Canada and cause blockages at multiple border crossings between the U.S. and Canada.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act last week in an effort to end the protests. On Monday, Canadian lawmakers extended the emergency powers, which allow officials to designate no-go zones and police to freeze bank accounts.
According to the CBC, Jacques told the parliamentary committee that the financial measures in the Emergency Act were designed to put financial pressure on protesters to go home. She said it was unlikely people who donated small amounts to the protests would be captured in the freezing of bank accounts, but not impossible.
“It’s not impossible in view of the order, but in view of the exchange of information and the focused approach that was taken to stop the illegal funding of these activities, it would appear to be unlikely that this occurred, but not impossible,” she told the committee, the CBC reported.
The director of the criminal justice program at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) on Monday told Hill.TV that Trudeau overstepped his authority by invoking the Emergencies Act to bring an end to the protests.
The CCLA is suing over the move, attorney Abby Deshman said.
“They really refer to violent threats to overthrow the government,” Deshman said of the legislation. “We’re really concerned about the use of this type of national security legislation on what we essentially see as a domestic [and] very, very difficult protest situation.”
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