Canada’s Liberal government adopted new tactics to shut down the Freedom Convoy protests as GoFundMe shuttered a fundraiser supporting the movement.
The Freedom Convoy protests that began in opposition to a trucker vaccine mandate have broadened into a movement calling for the end of COVID-19 restrictions with thousands of protesters taking to the streets in cities across Canada.
- San Francisco-based fundraising platform GoFundMe shut down a fundraiser that raised $10 million to support the truckers.
- GoFundMe cited “illegal activity” that “violated its terms of service” and initially planned to “divert” the funds towards unspecified charities before backtracking under a barrage of public criticism and pledging full refunds.
- Ottawa’s mayor declared a state of emergency Sunday after the police chief described the protests as a “siege” and admitted they had lost control. Ottawa officials applauded GoFundMe’s decision and called “on all crowdfunding sites to follow” their example.
- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government announced it is “collecting financial, digital, vehicle registration” and threatening to criminally prosecute the protestors who’ve shut down Canada’s capital for over ten days. Trudeau ruled out a military response.
- Republican state Attorneys General promised to investigate GoFundMe’s decision to shut down the fundraiser and its initial plan to donate the money to other charities. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) called GoFundMe’s decision to “commandeer” $9 million in donations “fraud.”
- The New York Times covered the protests outside of Canada’s capital. In Toronto, protestors waved Canadian flags on hockey sticks and thousands took to the streets in Quebec City.
- BBC News reported on Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson’s statement that Ottawa was “out of control.” Watson decried the protestors for “insensitively… blaring horns and sirens,” setting off fireworks, and “turning it into a party.” His call for a state of emergency was due to the “serious danger and threat to the safety…” of Ottawans.
- Politico covered former president Donald Trump’s latest statement supporting the Freedom Convoy. In his statement Trump called his former Canadian counterpart Trudeau a “left-wing lunatic.”
- Fox News uncovered the limits of GoFundMe’s “principles” after the platform shut down a fundraiser for the Freedom Convoy citing violence and the protest’s status as an “occupation.” In 2020, GoFundMe promoted a fundraiser for Seattle’s Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP), an unlawful occupation that was only shut down after two murders and reports of assaults and rapes.
- The Daily Wire collected statements from Canadian conservatives “calling out” Justin Trudeau’s “demonizing” comments about the Freedom Convoy after a person deliberately drove their car into a Freedom Convoy demonstration in Winnipeg, injuring three.
- National Review reported on another case of Canadian judges removing a parent’s custody of their children because of the parent’s unvaccinated status. According to these judges, limiting a child’s potential risk of COVID infection takes precedence over parental rights.
During the Trump years, “protest is patriotic” was a common refrain during the frequent protests against his administration, whether it was the Women’s March or Charlottesville counter-protestors or Black Lives Matter. The Washington Post praised protestors who blocked highways – similar tactics to the truckers, but instead of praise they are being labeled “a serious danger and threat to public safety.”
Ex-Obama Administration officials are urging Americans to stay out of Canada’s business – a reversal from the Trump years when Canadian protests of US policies were welcomed and Trudeau commented freely on US affairs. Trudeau called the January 2017 Women’s March protestors “inspirational.” He took a knee at Black Lives Matter protests in 2020. Meanwhile, Trudeau dismissed the Freedom Convoy protestors as a “fringe minority” and refused to meet with them. Evidently, American and Canadian liberals’ cherished love of protests only extends to protests they agree with.
Canada’s Liberal government has used positively authoritarian tactics and rhetoric to try and shut down protests against its policies. The prime minister dismissed the protests as “a group of people who disagree with the outcome of an election” and called their actions “a non-starter in a responsible democracy.” Ottawa police are surveilling citizens, cutting them off from fuel and cheering a foreign fundraising platform for shutting down fundraisers on the protestors’ behalf.
Due to the quirks of Canada’s election system, Trudeau governs with a “minority government” that makes up less than half of parliament and his party won a measly 32.6% of the popular vote, nearly 200,000 fewer votes than the opposition Conservatives. Another name for politicians who can only muster 32.6 percent of the popular vote? A “fringe minority.”
© Dominic Moore, 2022