Financial institutions have begun unfreezing the accounts of individuals who supported the Freedom Convoy’s efforts, according to Isabelle Jacques, an assistant deputy minister at the Department of Finance.
Jacques told the House finance committee on Tuesday that banks started to lift the suspensions “as of yesterday” and have stopped the process going forward.
Through the invoking of the Emergencies Act, the federal government gave financial institutions the power to freeze or suspend an account of an individual or business affiliated with the blockades without a court order.
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Concerns have mounted in recent days that the financial measures outlined in the Act are an overreach of government powers and potentially infringe on Charter rights.
Oppositions MPs have questioned whether small donors to the cause would be penalized the same way key organizers and financial contributors would be.
Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair told CTV’s Question Period on Sunday that “no one is interested” in freezing the accounts of individuals who made minor donations and that the measures are designed to be “focused” and “targeted.”
However, Jacques told committee on Tuesday that while “unlikely,” it’s “possible” anyone who contributed after Feb. 15 could be impacted.
“… It is possible although very unlikely in view of the circumstances. And I say this because the financial institution relied heavily on the information that was provided by the RCMP, further to their own internal process and verification, and so they approached it from a risk based approach,” she said.
“Although not impossible that someone who gave $20 be captured and have their bank account frozen, I find that scenario…you know I think it would be in rare circumstances.”
An RCMP statement released Monday notes that the list that was provided to banks included individuals who were “influencers in the illegal protests in Ottawa, and owners and/or drivers of vehicles who did not want to leave the area.”
It goes on to state, “At no time, did we provide a list of donors to financial institutions.”
The Emergencies Act was first invoked on Feb. 14 in an attempt to put an end to the trucker convoy protests and blockades in Ottawa and elsewhere across the country.
Following weekend debate, the House of Commons voted 185-151 on Monday to uphold the Act with the NDP and Green MP Elizabeth May siding with the Liberals.
Unless MPs trigger another vote and choose to revoke it, it will expire after 30 days.