Ottawa blacklisted 201 companies sympathetic to the Freedom Convoy

Records show Ottawa emailed a federal blacklist of Freedom Convoy sympathizers to foreign banks with offices from Wall Street to Beijing.

Ottawa blacklisted 201 companies sympathetic to the Freedom Convoy
The Canadian Press / Nathan Denette
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Records show Ottawa emailed a federal blacklist of Freedom Convoy sympathizers to foreign banks with offices from Wall Street to Beijing. According to Blacklock's Reporter, the RCMP placed no restrictions on the distribution of the blacklist.

"Information was shared only with entities listed in pursuant to the Emergency Economic Measures Order," wrote the RCMP in an Inquiry Of Ministry tabled in the Commons. They confirmed no information was shared with non-governmental entities other than the banks listed.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland's office secretly distributed a blacklist of 201 trucking companies identified by name, according to Blacklock's Reporter. Of the 201 blacklisted companies, 198 were Canadian, with the remaining three registered in the US. 

The Inquiry indicated RCMP shared the blacklist with Canadian officers of foreign banks, including the Bank of China, State Bank of India, BNP Paribas of France, Citibank of New York, Habib Bank of Pakistan, Hana Financial Group of South Korea, ICICI Bank Limited of India, Mizuho Financial Group of Japan and Wells Fargo & Company of San Francisco.

They also distributed the blacklist to Questrade of Toronto, an online discount stock brokerage; Wealth Simple Incorporated of Toronto, an online investment company; Douugh Bank Limited, an Australian-based app operator; the now-defunct Silicon Valley Bank of Santa Clara, California; and State Street Corporation of Boston and Edward Jones, the chain of private financial advisers.

Conservative MP Arnold Viersen received the disclosure after seeking details on "any banks or other financial institutions" supplied with information about the Freedom Convoy. 

He learned the RCMP offered to act as a conduit of information between provincial and territorial law enforcement and financial institutions for the entities to fulfill their obligations under the Emergency Economic Measures Order.

According to the Inquiry, the purpose of the blacklist was to cease dealings with designated individuals and to determine whether they were in possession or control of property owned, held or controlled by or on behalf of a designated person.

By official estimate, some $7.8 million belonging to suspected convoy supporters were frozen in 267 bank and credit union accounts and 170 bitcoin wallets. 

Under the Emergencies Act, law enforcement had the legal capacity to establish exclusion zones around the convoy and could kick people out without identifying them as protestors. It also permitted banks to freeze the bank accounts of convoy participants and supporters.

A reporter asked Freeland on February 17 whether freezing bank accounts was appropriate for the government.

She responded that the financial measures were "a powerful tool to disincentivize protest … and shrink the size of the [convoy]."

"There was credible and compelling evidence supporting both a subjective and objectively reasonable belief in the existence of a public order emergency," reads the POEC report.

"I have concluded that the Cabinet was reasonably concerned that the situation it was facing was worsening and at a risk of becoming dangerous and unmanageable," said POEC Commissioner Paul Rouleau.

He claimed that online threats against officials, the risk of violence from lone wolf actors, "concerning" memes from Diagolon, and weapons at the Coutts, Alberta blockade with supposed Diagolon paraphernalia constituted threats to national security.

"The standard of reasonable grounds to believe does not require certainty," claimed Rouleau in deliberations on why Ottawa met the threshold to invoke the Emergencies Act.

The Department of Finance, in a submission last February 3 to the Special Joint Committee on the Declaration of Emergency, said the federal government never verified the blacklist.

"There was no verification," testified Isabelle Jacques, assistant deputy finance minister. "We didn't do any follow-up."

"Who checked whether these account freezes were justified?" asked Bloc Québécois MP Rhéal Fortin. 

"Financial institutions acted in good faith," replied Jacques.

According to an Angus Reid poll, over half (51%) of Canadians perceived the Freedom Convoy as threatening national security. Canadians believed the convoy posed a threat of espionage, sabotage, foreign influence, serious violence, or an overthrow of the Canadian government.

The pollster provided respondents with these terms to match the terms needed by government officials to invoke the Emergencies Act, formerly known as the War Measures Act.

Eight in ten Liberal voters said the federal government met the criteria, while only two-in-ten Conservatives shared that opinion. 

Half of all Canadians said Ottawa had justification for invoking the Emergencies Act to clear protesters. 

Only one quarter said invoking the Emergencies Act was unnecessary, while one in six said the government did not need to take action to clear protesters.

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