In a recent ruling, the Federal Court of Canada has deemed the government’s use of the Emergencies Act to curb funds and cryptocurrencies supporting protesting truckers as unreasonable and unconstitutional. Justice Richard Mosley, in his decision on January 23rd, 2024, concluded that there was no genuine national emergency justifying the invocation of the Emergencies Act.
The court’s decision pertains to the actions taken by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government in February 2022 when they froze funds, including cryptocurrencies, donated to truckers protesting COVID-19 restrictions.
The “Freedom Convoy” protests gained national attention as truckers blocked streets in Ottawa, Canada’s capital, to voice their opposition to mandates requiring truck drivers crossing the Canada-United States border to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The government at the time asserted that invoking the Emergencies Act was necessary due to the protests being deemed an illegal occupation.
Court’s ruling and implications
Various groups, including the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) and the Canadian Constitution Foundation, contested the government’s use of the Emergencies Act to freeze the flow of funds, arguing that it was both unnecessary and unconstitutional.
Justice Mosley’s ruling upheld these claims, emphasizing that the Emergencies Act should be considered a tool of last resort and not be invoked for mere convenience.
The CCLA hailed the decision as setting a significant precedent for all future governments, emphasizing the importance of adhering to constitutional principles even during unrest.
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland announced that the government intends to appeal the court’s decision. The ruling challenges the government’s efforts to maintain control and address situations it deems as crises.
Role of cryptocurrency in the protests
The cryptocurrency was pivotal in funding the 2022 trucker protests, with organizers estimated to have received millions of dollars. However, the exact total remains unclear due to the inherent challenges in tracking decentralized digital assets.
During the protests, GoFundMe froze over $9 million in donations raised for the truckers. Subsequently, organizers turned to Tallycoin, a crowdfunding platform built on the Bitcoin blockchain, where the HonkHonk Hodl group raised over 22 Bitcoins, approximately worth $925,000 at the time.
Another popular donation platform, the Christian crowdfunding site GiveSendGo, collected over $8 million for the truckers, including unspecified amounts in cryptocurrency. Nevertheless, Canadian authorities later froze bank accounts linked to GiveSendGo donations.
The freezing of digital assets in Canada prompted strong reactions from cryptocurrency executives, including Jesse Powell, the founder of Kraken. These industry leaders criticized Canada’s actions, raising concerns about government overreach and the implications for the broader cryptocurrency community.