To quell truckers' protests, Canadian PM Justin Trudeau uses very seldom emergency powers
The government responded by introducing extensive steps to help police forces and bring crowdfunding platforms under terror financing control
To resolve protests that have shut down several border crossings and paralyzed parts of the capital, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Monday that he will utilise rarely used emergency measures, including shutting off funding. The government responded by introducing extensive steps to help police forces and bring crowdfunding platforms under terror financing control, claiming that the protests were harming the economy and Canada's reputation as a trusted trading partner.
The "Freedom Convoy" protests, started by Canadian truckers opposing a Covid-19 vaccinate-or-quarantine mandate for cross-border drivers, have drawn people opposed to Trudeau's policies on everything from pandemic restrictions to a carbon tax. "The blockades are harming our economy and endangering public safety," Trudeau told a news conference. "We cannot and will not allow illegal and dangerous activities to continue."
Protesters blocked the Ambassador Bridge, a crucial trade route to Detroit, for six days before police evacuated the area on Sunday, while smaller border crossings in Alberta, Manitoba, and British Columbia have been closed. Frustration has developed as a result of what many regard as permissive police response to rallies in Windsor, Ontario, and Ottawa, the nation's capital, where protests are now in their third week.
"Despite their best efforts, it is now clear that there are serious challenges to law enforcement`s ability to effectively enforce the law," Trudeau said.
The federal government can override the provinces and authorise exceptional temporary measures to ensure security during national emergencies under the 1988 Emergencies Act. Trudeau's father, former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, utilised the statute once earlier in peacetime, in 1970.
Four province premiers — Alberta's, Quebec's, Manitoba's, and Saskatchewan's — had previously expressed opposition to plans to activate the act, claiming that it was unnecessary. The measures, according to Trudeau, will be "geographically precise and targeted just where they are needed." He also stated that they will be "time restricted." The emergency measures would have to be approved by the Canadian Parliament within seven days, and it also has the right to withdraw them.
Canada will expand the scope of its anti-money laundering and terrorist financing regulations to include crowdfunding platforms, in addition to giving police resources. All crowdfunding platforms and payment providers must register with FINTRAC, Canada's anti-money laundering agency, and report questionable activity immediately, according to Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland.
"We are making these changes because we know that these platforms are being used to support illegal blockades and illegal activity which is damaging the Canadian economy," Freeland said.
Without a court ruling, the government will also allow banks to temporarily freeze the accounts of people accused of supporting the blockades. The insurance of trucks involved in the blockades will also be revoked. According to Canadian authorities, US backers provided over half of the funding for the protests.
After mainstream crowdfunding portal GoFundMe rejected donations to the group, GiveSendGo, a US-based website, became a major route for money to the demonstrators. On Monday, a website dedicated to distributing hacked data claims it received reams of information about funders.
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