The accounts were seized as part of the invocation of the never-before-used Emergencies Act which gave authorities extraordinary powers of search, arrest and seizure of funds and property as the Liberals sought to end the nearly month-long peaceful Convoy to Ottawa protest against remaining COVID-19 restrictions.
The reply to the inquiry of ministry tabled in the House of Commons broke down the dollar value of financial assets frozen under the Act:
The Emergency Economic Measures Order was in effect for only a short period of time, and it only targeted designated persons participating in the illegal blockades and occupations. As of February 21, 2022, we are aware of enforcement action taken by the RCMP under the Emergency Economic Measures Order that resulted in the freezing of approximately 280 financial products, e.g., savings and chequing accounts, credit cards and lines of credit, for a total of approximately $7,900,000, including $3,800,000 from a payment processor.
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland has previously defended the account freezes, calling the move “appropriate”:
The return tabled in the House by the Department of Finance indicates there are not to be long-term consequences for those with bank accounts previously frozen in accessing banking services:
Moreover, there is a statutory obligation pursuant to the access to basic banking regulations for banks to open retail deposit accounts for consumers. Therefore, banks must continue to open retail deposit accounts for any consumer subject to the exceptions in the regulations.