Bank freezes Freedom Convoy donations
The Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD) has announced that it will not be handing over $1.4 million in donations to the Freedom Convoy, and is planning to surrender the money to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice instead.
Speaking to Canada’s CTV News on Friday, a representative for the top 10 North American financial institution revealed that “TD has asked the court to accept the funds, which were raised through crowdfunding and deposited into personal accounts at TD.” Approximately $1 million is the money raised for the Canadian truckers and not refunded by GoFundMe, and the other $0.4 million is made up of direct donations. The bank said it was applying to entrust the funds with the authorities in the hope that “they may be managed and distributed in accordance with the intentions of the donors, and/or to be returned to the donors who have requested refunds but whose entitlement to a refund cannot be determined by TD.”
Freedom Convoy lawyer Keith Wilson is vowing to put up a legal fight to “have the restrictions on the donated funds lifted as soon as possible.”
This is not the first time the Freedom Convoy has had its donations frozen, with GoFundMe announcing earlier this month that it would not hand over $9 million out of the $10 million raised for the movement. As justification for the move, the crowdfunding platform cited Canadian police reports of “violence and other unlawful activity” by the protesters. GoFundMe was initially planning to send the money to charities instead, but then decided to refund the donations.
The truckers switched to Christian fundraising platform GiveSendGo shortly afterwards. However, the Ontario Superior Court announced on Thursday that it would be freezing funds coming from GiveSendGo accounts. The court sided with Ontario’s attorney general, who claimed the money would be used to further a criminal act.
GiveSendGo responded by saying the Canadian court’s order does not apply to it, with money still being raised for the protesters.
With donations to the movement being seized on multiple occasions, the truckers are now turning to cryptocurrencies. According to a video posted by the truckers on Facebook, by Friday, they had already raised $913,000 in Bitcoin. The Ottawa police are apparently aware of the new fundraising strategy, mentioning it in documents filed in an Ontario court. The Canadian authorities are, however, yet to outline any steps to counter the move.
Freedom Convoy activists have been protesting in downtown Ottawa since January 29, as well as blocking a number of border crossings to the US. Their main complaint regards Covid vaccine mandates for truckers who cross the border – though their demands have expanded to include calls to ditch all Covid restrictions and for Justin Trudeau’s government to resign.
On Friday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency in the province, urging the protesters to “end these occupations and go home.”