United Conservative members unabashedly disapprove of Digital ID, including digital currencies often exploited by authoritarian regimes.
With a near unanimous 'yes' vote, the Conservative grassroots in Alberta urged the province to protect consumer access to goods and services using cash. Their rationale? Digital currency is a precursor to a social credit system and easy to manipulate.
In November 2021, the World Economic Forum (WEF) released a compendium document on digital currencies, indicating that central bankers are looking to adopt a central bank digital currency. Case in point: China.
"Linked to China’s social credit system, it could see citizens fined in a split second for behaviors deemed undesirable. Dissidents and activists could see their wallets emptied or taken offline," wrote Time Magazine.
In the aftermath of the 2022 Freedom Convoy, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland spoke openly about freezing the personal bank accounts so convoy supporters and participants could not access their funds — a key concern among supporters of the policy resolution.
On February 17, a reporter asked Freeland about the appropriateness of freezing bank accounts to curb the anti-lockdown demonstrations. She called the financial measure "a powerful tool to disincentivize protest […] and shrink [its] size."
By official estimate, the feds ceased $7.8 million in assets from 267 bank and credit union accounts and 170 bitcoin wallets belonging to suspected convoy supporters and participants.
Conservative MP Arnold Viersen received the disclosure, learning the RCMP acted as a conduit of information between provincial and territorial law enforcement and financial institutions to fulfill their obligations under the Emergency Economic Measures Order.
"Albertans are concerned about protecting their financial assets and do not trust Digital Currency," reads the resolution.
"As a practical matter achieving wide adoption, acceptance and use of a central bank digital currency could be challenging because most Canadians have access to several methods of payment," confirmed a Bank of Canada report, Unmet Payment Needs And A Central Bank Digital Currency.
Most adults (98%) own a bank account and debit card, while 87% possess at least one credit card, reported Blacklock's Reporter.
"Most adult Canadians do not experience gaps in their access to a range of payment methods, and this would probably continue to be the case in a cashless environment," said Payment Needs.
However, Danielle Smith, prior to her successful bid for UCP leader and premier, wrote in a 2021 newsletter that "most employers still want to pay you in cash and most businesses will want to receive cash for your purchases."
However, Canada's post-pandemic economic recovery ushered in a "new normal," which observed an accelerated usage of digital payment. "Cash transaction volume fell to fourth position overall in 2020 for the first time and stayed there in 2021," said 2022 Canadian Payment Methods and Trends Report.
Payment Needs estimated "only about 14 percent" have abandoned cash purchases. "About half of these people still carry some cash, presumably as a precaution," it said. The typical Canadian carries $70 in their wallet, mainly $5 and $10 bills, and keeps roughly $185 in their vehicle glove box or dresser drawer.
However, cash transaction volume fell 53% from the onset of COVID to 2021, according to Payment Methods. Whereas 20% and 31% of Canadians used their debit and credit cards more frequently during that period. Forty-three percent of Canadians agree the COVID pandemic changed their payment preferences to digital and contactless for the long-term, unchanged from last year.
"[But] many older and low-income people rely on cash transactions and do not have access to credit/debit cards," reads the resolution. Although young Canadians (18–34) generally viewed digital ID positively, with nearly half (49%) endorsing the idea.
Despite increased awareness among the population, overall, 90% of Canadians never use digital currencies, said Payment Methods.
With declining cash transactions and rising stock in e-payment systems and cryptocurrencies — different from CBDCs — interest grew in the idea.
"As a currency, Bitcoin functions as an anti-CBDC in a lot of ways. Where CBDCs are completely controlled by a central authority, Bitcoin is 100 percent decentralized — no one can mess with the system," said The National Telegraph.
"CBDCs can have built-in controls so they can discriminate based on age, sex, wealth, race, or whatever other categories the government wanted. Bitcoin, on the other hand, has no control built-in so discrimination is impossible," it continued. "While every CBDC transaction can be tracked and recorded Bitcoin transactions can be done peer to peer and are untraceable to a specific person."
The Bank of Canada notes that CBDCs differ from cryptocurrencies and other digital money because they're a digital version of a physical banknote — meaning they hold the same value as Canada's national currency.
"For a payment-oriented central bank digital currency to address unmet payment needs, the main consumer groups who already have access to a range of payment options would have to widely adopt the currency and use it at scale," said Payment Needs. "This is necessary to encourage widespread merchant acceptance."
Regardless of the interest in digital currencies, the Bank pledged not to phase out cash. "Cash isn't going anywhere," it said.
According to Blacklock's Reporter, many Canadians "dislike using technology and are therefore reluctant to make payments online." An estimated 11% of people with internet access refuse to Bank online, and 16% do not shop online.
Overcoming such barriers could require significant and sustained investment by the central bank, reads the central bank report. However, they confirmed August 10 that a government-issued digital currency would be 'unnecessary' and only feasible if most Canadians requested the option.
On May 9, figures released by the Royal Canadian Mint revealed a failed 2012 Canadian digital currency venture cost taxpayers $34.3 million. The Bank of Canada disbanded the program the following year, estimating losses at $29 million in unrecovered research and development costs.
Through May 8 to June 19, they polled Canadians on the 'usefulness' of digital currencies, asking Canadians about the security and privacy features they would desire for digital currency.
"In their public consultation, they mention privacy concerns, but they don't ask a single question about how it would make it easier for them to manipulate monetary policy and control how we spend our money," PPC leader Maxime Bernier told Rebel News.
"That has always been the purpose of central banks," he claimed.
In a 2010 speech, Bernier expressed concerns about central banks manipulating money, depreciating the currency, and destroying consumer purchasing power. And unlike cash, digital transactions leave a trail.
"A digital currency will allow the Bank of Canada — a government organization — to know the details of all our transactions," he said. "Whether or not the central bank is serious about protecting our privacy, management, and the Government of Canada will have all this centralized information at their disposal if they want to use it."
However, University of Calgary economist Trevor Tombe contends Canada has "strong legal frameworks and institutions to protect against that [privacy concerns]." In a May 18 blog to The Hub, he wrote: "If one has concerns about the state of privacy laws in Canada, then make that case directly."
According to Blacklock's Reporter, the central bank has a legal monopoly over the distribution of money under the 1934 Currency Act. It earns $1.6 billion a year through the circulation of banknotes, by official estimates.
"Can we trust them after [Finance Minister Chrystia] Freeland froze bank accounts during the Freedom Convoy? After they printed hundreds of billions to fund Trudeau's gigantic deficits?" Bernier posted to his X feed. "No!"
He lauds the Bank of Canada could manipulate a digital currency to manipulate how Canadians spend their money, including on goods "responsible for carbon emissions that the government doesn't like."
"As for social control, some fear a digital currency would be able to punish or reward specific behaviour," added Tombe. "But this too is not new!" he said. "We tax some choices and subsidize others all the time, for better or worse."
Regardless, Bernier contends a digital currency "will be the strongest tool in the government's toolkit to control the population." He said: "It would be extremely naive to believe that they will never use it."