Last night Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland held a joint press conference where they announced their decision to invoke the Emergencies Act in response to the Freedom Convoy protests.
But what is the Emergencies Act? And what new powers does is Trudeau government claiming?
The Emergencies Act 1988 is exactly what it sounds like – a piece of legislation designed to grant the government special powers in the event of an emergency.
By officially declaring the Freedom Convoy an emergency under part 2 of the act, “Public Order Emergencies”, they claim the convoy comprises…
an emergency that arises from threats to the security of Canada and that is so serious as to be a national emergency”
So, formally and legally, the government says these people represent threats to the security of Canada”…
The violent protests continue… pic.twitter.com/OLpDj5r4tD
— Rupa Subramanya (@rupasubramanya) February 12, 2022
The protesters in Ottawa are locked in arms and singing/dancing in the streets with smiles on their faces 🇨🇦
These are the people that Trudeau stigmatizes, name-calls from a distance, and refuses to engage. pic.twitter.com/zMzRKfm0eo
— The Vigilant Fox 🦊 (@VigilantFox) February 11, 2022
These ideas were repeated in parliament last week, by the leader of the NDP Jagmett Singh, who claimed the convoy wanted to overthrow the government and was being funded by the US.
Three days ago the Guardian ran one article headlined “Freedom convoys: legitimate Covid protest or vehicle for darker beliefs?”, suggesting the convoy was a cover for white supremacy as well as “conspiratorial thinking” and the usual.
Then yesterday, just hours before Trudeau invoked the act, it was reported that “hackers” from “Anonymous” had identified 92,000 donors to the convoy, taken down the GiveSendGo site, and published that most of the donations had come from US accounts. Feeding the idea that the convoy isn’t an organic movement, but one created by the US agitators.
The campaign was clear: Paint the convoy as “dangerous” and funded from abroad so they have an excuse to invoke the Act.
The Emergencies Act gives the government the power to take “special temporary measures that may not be appropriate in normal times”, which is delightfully vague, but what form are these “measures” taking?
Seeing as the act has literally never been used before, it’s hard to predict how it will be used. For now, at least, it seems to be entirely financial.
Clearly the government think the easiest way to break the blockades and protests is to go after their money.
That started with behind-the-scenes moves against crowd-funding platforms. There was obvious covert pressure on GoFundMe to shut down the donor page, and then the aforementioned “anonymous hackers” took down GiveSendGo site.
With the “emergency” declared, the campaign to control crowdfunding income switches from covert to overt.
In the announcement, Freeland detailed how the government will attempt to monitor and control crowd-funding sites and payment platforms moving forward:
From today, all crowd-funding platforms must register with the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), which requires them to report any “large or suspicious” payments to the financial authorities. This specifically includes cryptocurrency too.
But it’s not just about digital platforms or crowdfunding, the new measures extend to banks as well.
Under these rules, Canadian banks are now empowered to freeze or suspend any account without a court order, and are protected from any legal action taken against them as a result.
To be clear: If a bank freezes your account because they believe you donated to the convoy, and you lose business or miss a rent payment as a result, you cannot sue them.
Further, Freeland suggests banks “review their relationships” with anyone found to be taking part in the protests, or financially supporting them.
Meaning, closing down your accounts completely and refusing your business.
This is, arguably, the most consequential 80 seconds of any speech delivered by a government official in as long as I can remember.
This is the panopticon and the new digital gulag. This is the start of The De-personing. This will expand to every country and every "offense." pic.twitter.com/mFSQJ06AOK
— Cyprian (@cyprianous) February 15, 2022
The above tweet does not exaggerate. This is some of the most extreme draconian financial control imaginable.
It could also have serious knock-on effects for businesses – large and small – as well as tax revenues. Not to mention landlords who suddenly are not getting their monthly payments.
But none of that matters alongside the flagrant lack of ethics: Freezing protestors’ bank accounts is in violation of the constitution, and simply morally wrong.
Frozen funds could mean people can’t pay their rent or mortgage and end up homeless. It could mean not being able to heat their homes during the coldest month of the year. It could mean not being able to buy food for themselves or their families.
The protesters have not committed any acts of violence, or even threatened any. They have done nothing but exercise their right to peacefully assemble, as detailed in the Canadian constitution.
To hold this financial threat over them is unforgivable.
And it won’t stop here.
Now the precedent has been set, in future other acts vaguely defined as “domestic terrorism” could incur the same penalty. Refusing a vaccine, for example.
The specific rules don’t even matter, they will likely change based on what the establishment narrative demands, but the punishment will stay the same: Play along, or we’ll take your money.
This amount of control is exactly why they have been pressing so hard for a cashless society the last few years, and why that needs to be resisted at all cost.