The freezing of bank accounts linked to the protests in Canada is lifted

The Canadian government has begun lifting the freeze on more than 200 bank accounts linked to recent protests in the country, officials said Tuesday.

As many as 210 accounts collectively holding nearly $8 million have been frozen under the authorization of the National Emergencies Act, which was invoked in a bid to quell protests over 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 that the government was in the process of lifting the suspension of most accounts, according to the CBC.

“The information was shared by the [Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)] with financial institutions and we were notified yesterday by financial institutions that they were unblocking the accounts,” Jacque said, according to the outlet.

“The vast majority of accounts are being released, subject to any new information the RCMP may have,” she continued.

Some Tory MPs said voters reported their accounts had been suspended after donating to the protests, according to the CBC.

But the RCMP said it only provided the banks with the names of convoy organizers and truck owners who remained in the protest zone in Ottawa, Canada’s capital, CBC reported.

The ‘Freedom Convoy’ protests that lasted about three weeks began with truck drivers protesting a vaccination mandate and later spread to cities across Canada and caused blockages at several border crossings between the United States and Canada.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergency Measures Act last week in a bid to end the protests. On Monday, Canadian lawmakers extended emergency powers, which allow authorities to designate no-go areas and police to freeze bank accounts.

According to the CBC, Jacques told the parliamentary committee that the emergency law’s financial measures were intended to put financial pressure on protesters to return home. She said people who donated small sums to protests were unlikely to be caught in the bank account freeze, but not impossible.

“It is not impossible given the order, but given the exchange of information and the targeted approach that has been taken to stop the illegal financing of these activities, it seems unlikely that this will happen. be produced, but not impossible,” she said. told the committee, CBC reported.

The director of the criminal justice program for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) told Hill.TV on Monday that Trudeau exceeded his authority by invoking the Emergencies Act to end the protests.

The CCLA is pursuing that decision, attorney Abby Deshman said.

“They’re really referring to violent threats to overthrow the government,” Deshman said of the legislation. “We are really concerned about the use of this type of national security legislation on what we essentially consider to be a national problem. [and] very, very difficult protest situation.

Shawanda H. Saldana