Trudeau’s Totalitarian Response to Trucker Protests – OpEd – Eurasia Review
By Mitchell Nemeth*
On February 14, Canadian Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland announced a government crackdown on the now infamous “Freedom Convoy 2022”. Freeland said: “If your truck is used in these illegal blockades, your business accounts will be frozen, your vehicle insurance will be suspended.” The announcement follows Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s statement on the Emergencies Act. These emergency measures were introduced after weeks of economic and quality of life disruptions in Canada, specifically in Ottawa.
In Ottawa, a large convoy of truckers gathered with pedestrian protesters to signal their disapproval of covid-19 vaccination mandates and other related covid-19 measures. These protests have spread across Canada, with many individual protesters expressing concern about the government’s covid-19 policies. Bari Weiss’ Substack channel has a great article on “What the Truckers Want”. The message of the “Freedom Convoy” is clear: put an end to the emergency measures linked to covid-19.
A number of Canadian provincial governments have lifted covid restrictions, including the governments of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Ontario, but it’s unclear whether the ‘freedom convoy’ forced the provinces to drop out the requirements. Trudeau, however, doubled down on his rhetoric in opposition to the convoy’s demands. By proclaiming the Emergencies Act for the first time since it was passed in 1988, Trudeau declared war on protesters. He said: “This is no longer a legal protest or a disagreement over government policy. It is now an illegal occupation. It’s time for people to go home.
The protest has been going on for some time with the help of ordinary individuals who crowdfunded on behalf of the Freedom Convoy organizers. On February 4, the Freedom Convoy 2022 GoFundMe page was taken down for “violation of…terms of service…and was removed from the platform.” Following the actions of GoFundMe, the organizers of the convoy turned to GiveSendGo to finance the crowdfunding. On February 10, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice issued an order blocking access to funds collected from GiveSendGo. February 12, GiveSendGo tweeted “GiveSendGo works with many different campaign organizers to find the most effective legal ways to keep giving out funds.” According to CNN Business, “Although GiveSendGo refuses to comply with the court order, it may still be required to comply. Indeed, the order also applies to the website’s third-party payment processors. therein lies the biggest problem at hand.
While the freedom to assemble (or protest) can be protected, governments have learned that they can stifle protests by restricting activists’ access to payment processors and other financial intermediaries. After 9/11, Canada amended the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) Act and expanded it to include provisions on terrorist financing, renaming it the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and terrorist activities (LRPCFAT). According to the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Center of Canada, one of the objectives of the PCMLTFA is to “implement specific measures to detect and deter money laundering and the financing of terrorist activities in order to facilitate investigation or prosecution of money laundering and terrorist activity financing offences”. .”
Following Trudeau’s statement on the Emergencies Act, Freeland announced that the government would expand the PCMLTFA to include crowdfunding platforms and their associated payment service providers. In a press conference, Freeland said: “[T]Illegal blockings have highlighted the fact that crowdfunding platforms and some of the payment service providers they use are not fully covered by the Proceeds of Crime and Terrorist Financing Act. Additionally, she said the “changes cover all forms of transactions, including digital assets such as cryptocurrencies.” The declaration of the Emergency Measures Act will temporarily allow banks, without court orders or fear of prosecution, to freeze personal and business accounts suspected of being used to aid blockades and will require banks to “report the financial relationships with customers involved in the illegal blockades to the [Royal Canadian Mounted Police] or the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
The logical conclusion based on the actions of the Canadian government is that Trudeau views the “Freedom Convoy” as a form of terrorism. If Trudeau wanted to end the protests, he could have either called a meeting with their organizers to discuss their demands or called off the protest by sending in the military. The Prime Minister decided to sidestep protesters’ demands and establish a third option: to compel payment service providers and financial institutions to act as state intermediaries. This newly “discovered” power is based on a long series of practices aimed at unbanking politically disadvantaged individuals, writes Ben Shapiro of the Daily Wire.
Given these circumstances, it’s clear that Trudeau is scrambling to find a way to ignore the Freedom Convoy’s demands while calling off the protests, or “the occupation,” as he calls it. In June 2020, Trudeau was pressured by then US President Donald Trump’s idea to use soldiers against protesters and rioters. He has answered, “[W]We all watch in horror and dismay what is happening in the United States. Clearly Trudeau was troubled by a heavy-handed approach by Black Lives Matter protesters and rioters; however, his response to the “Freedom Convoy” was less sympathetic. In fact, he called the protesters a “marginal minority” with “unacceptable views.”
The Prime Minister has fallen into the same political trap as former US President Barack Obama and former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Obama, Clinton and now Trudeau can all be portrayed as out-of-touch elitists and contemptuous of those with contrary political views. For decades, politicians have entrusted democratic decision-making to so-called experts in administrative agencies to shield themselves from political accountability; that is to say the preferences of the voters. This long-term strategy demonstrated a certain contempt for the average voter. Trudeau engaged in a similar sleight of hand by abusing the levers of government power to compel financial institutions and payment service providers to conduct the business of the state.
*About the Author: Mitchell Nemeth is a risk management and compliance professional in Atlanta, Georgia. He holds a master’s degree in legal studies from the University of Georgia School of Law and a BBA in finance from the University of Georgia. His work has been featured at the Foundation for Economic Education, RealClearMarkets, Merion West and Medium.
Source: This article was published by the MISES Institute