Convoy Finance: Funding Protest
Part 1 of a three-part series looking at the financing of the "Freedom Convoy"
Welcome to a special edition of Insight Intelligence. I usually release my newsletters on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but given the events here in Canada’s capital, I thought I’d do a supplemental issue. And to keep this manageable, I’m going to release this analysis in a three-part series. If you’re an international subscriber wondering how this applies to you, the “Freedom Convoy” appears to have connections to the global anti-vax, anti-mandate protest movement, and potential foreign funding. Perhaps this analysis can serve as warning intelligence for what might be coming to your country or city.
*Updated: 1 February at 5:58 am*
The “Freedom Convoy”, in six lines
As of January 15th, the federal government’s requirement that all truck drivers in Canada (a federally-regulated industry) be vaccinated came into effect, and a similar requirement applied in the United States as of the 22nd. The mandate affects nearly 12,000 drivers who have thus far not been vaccinated. In protest to this mandate (and much more), a protest movement was launched, including a GoFundMe campaign to fund the travel of truck convoys from across the country to Ottawa. While the convoy was initially pitched as a “freedom” movement, subsequent investigations have revealed links, membership, and association with separatist groups, white nationalists, and a history of anti-Muslim activism, antisemitism, and racism. There have also been calls for violence at the protest, including one suggesting that this should be Canada’s “January 6th”. The protest itself has been marked by the presence of hate symbols, parking, dancing and urination on the cenotaph, and intimidation and theft of food from a homeless shelter.
The GoFundMe Campaign
But this article is about the money – and there’s lots of it. Over the course of the last week (the campaign was launched on the 14th of January), the campaign has thus far raised CA$8.6 million, and donations continue. The organizers of the campaign have repeatedly raised the goal for the campaign, and at the time of writing, it sits at $9 million.
For context, one of the largest crowdfunding campaigns in Canadian history was the for the Humbolt Broncos bus crash, which raised $15.2 million. Most other campaigns in Canada raise far less.
To date, there have been 107.4k donations to this crowdfunding campaign,1 which means that the average donation is about $80. However, there have been a number of large donations, many (most?) of which were contributed by anonymous donors. Some donations have also been made in the name of people who did not contribute, such as David Fisman (a prominent Canadian epidemiologist) and Sophie Grégoire Trudeau (the Prime Minister’s wife). Other individuals who donated include the leader of the NDP party’s brother-in-law, although media sources report that he’s asked GoFundMe for a refund.