The move met with criticism and was deemed unjustified, with some claiming the PM overstepped his authority.
Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, recently invoked the Emergencies Act as his latest tactical maneuver against the Freedom Convoy protesters.
The move will grant him the power to freeze protesters’ bank accounts and monitor any transaction that he might consider “large and suspicious,” which also includes cryptocurrency transactions.
According to Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, the move will broaden the scope of Terrorist Financing rules, and it will target the payment service providers and crowdfunding platforms that the protesters have been using.
Canada Cracks Down on Crowdfunding Platforms Used by Protesters
Protesters managed to gather up more than $19 million in funds by using crowdfunding platforms such as GiveSendGo and GoFundMe. After Canadian authorities blocked the funds, the protesters found themselves unable to access them, and they decided to turn to Bitcoin.
One of the groups, known as the HonkHonk Hodl group, managed to raise nearly $1 million, or around 22 BTC, by using the Tallycoin BTC fundraising platform. With that, the group exceeded their fundraising goal and subsequently closed their Tallycoin page on February 15th. At this time, the funds are still expected to reach the protesters.
Meanwhile, GoFundMe chose to cooperate with the country’s government and return the money to those who donated it. As for GiveSendGo, the platform experienced an unexplained information leak that exposed the list of roughly 92,000 donors who contributed to the Freedom Convoy’s fundraising efforts.
Michael Thalen, a writer for The Daily Dot, tweeted that the leaked file contains the names of tens of thousands of people who donated to the protesters’ cause. However, the fate of the funds these donors sent has not yet been determined.
Instead, GiveSendGo took its entire website down on February 14th following the leak. Thalen also reported that, despite the size and severity of the leak, the company has seemingly failed to inform its users about it.
The Prime Minister’s Move Faces Criticism
Recent reports also indicate that officials in the Canadian government did not universally support the move to invoke the Emergencies Act.
For example, just before the Prime Minister invoked the act, Quebec Premier Francois Legault stated that doing so could mean “throwing oil on the fire.”
Trudeau responded by insisting that the emergency powers would be applied only temporarily and “in a highly specific manner.”
Furthermore, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) also criticized the move, stating that the PM overstepped his authority and that the circumstances of the protests have not reached the point where invoking the Emergencies Act might be considered necessary.
The CCLA also insists that the act allows the government to bypass ordinary democratic processes, given that the situation has not reached the proportions where such a move would be justified.
For the moment, it remains unclear what payments, if any, will be blocked. However, cryptocurrency supporters have used the event to point out that cryptocurrencies cannot be controlled by the government and that “Bitcoin = Freedom.”