Convoy Finance: Applying Emergency Measures
Welcome to a special edition of the convoy finance series – from the warm beaches of the Dominican Republic. There have been a lot of developments in terms of how the emergency financial measures are being applied, so I thought I’d take some time and write that up. As always, a warm welcome to new subscribers: we’re now approaching 1200 subscribers to this newsletter! Today, I’ve summarized what I think is happening with those accounts, what the different numbers we’ve heard actually mean, and what will happen next. There’s still a lot of (troubling) lack of clarity around the accounts frozen, and what next steps are for the government.
For those of you who need a quick overview of what’s happened so far, here are the relevant articles:
Applying Emergency Measures
When the emergency measures were announced, there was a fair bit of confusion about who would be covered and how the measures would be applied. In short, the measures apply after the 14th, and apply to both convoy participants and donors. This means that donors to the convoy who contributed after the emergency measures came into force (9pm on the 14th) could have their accounts frozen. Similarly, those continuing their participating in the occupation of Ottawa or the blockades could also have their accounts frozen. Details of how these measures were applied were discussed at a FINA meeting on February 22nd, 2022. The emergency measures applied to both funds received from GiveSendGo (although the majority of those funds remain inaccessible due to a restraint order), as well as private donations.
Despite the restraint order and emergency measures, donations to the GiveSendGo campaign continue, albeit at a much slower number and in smaller amounts. The slower pace could be attributable both to the end of the occupation of Ottawa and uncertainty about the future of the funds, although ongoing donations demonstrates support for the broader movement beyond the occupation and blockades.
As we’ve discussed before, some of the GiveSendGo funds were already distributed to convoy organizers. Subsequently, another leak (this time Chris Garrah’s hacked emails and Facebook account) show that he received tens of thousands of dollars from the GiveSendGo campaign before Stripe, the payment processor, froze transactions in accordance with the restraint order.
While the RCMP has not discussed any specific cases, it is highly likely that Garrah’s accounts were amongst those frozen by the emergency measures. This likely includes his corporate accounts (of which he probably has several, since he has at least one other federally-incorporated business).
Freezing of Accounts
The mechanisms of freezing accounts of individuals deemed to be designated persons (i.e. participating in the occupation or blockade, or donating to it after the 14th) were poorly articulated in original communications about the emergency measures. The government has since clarified that the RCMP has provided lists directly to financial institutions, although there remains some lack of clarity around whether banks are taking a more proactive approach than simply implementing the list. (My professional opinion is that this is probably unlikely or quite limited, given uncertainty around protection from civil lawsuits – while the emergency measures state that there is protection, how this is interpreted and applied is unclear. Banks don’t like a lack of clarity when it comes to risk exposure.)