Federal Court Challenges Canada’s Emergency Asset Freeze Law
In a landmark decision on January 23, the Federal Court of Canada ruled that the government’s use of an emergency law to freeze funds, including cryptocurrencies, during the truckers’ protest was unreasonable and unconstitutional. Justice Richard Mosley concluded that there was no national emergency justifying the invocation of the Emergencies Act. This ruling came after the government, under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, utilized the law for the first time in February 2022 to curb financial support to truckers protesting COVID-19 mandates. These protesters, part of the so-called “Freedom Convoy,” used trucks to blockade streets in Ottawa in opposition to vaccination requirements for truck drivers crossing the Canada-United States border.
Impact and Implications of the Court’s Ruling
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), the Canadian Constitution Foundation, and other groups challenged the government’s decision to invoke the Emergencies Act. They argued that using the law to freeze funds, including crypto donations, was unnecessary and unconstitutional. Following the court’s decision, the CCLA stated that this judgment sets a significant precedent for future government actions. Justice Mosley emphasized that the government cannot use the Emergencies Act for convenience or effectiveness but should see it as a tool of last resort. Despite this ruling, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland has announced the government’s intention to appeal.
The Role of Cryptocurrency in the Trucker Protests
Cryptocurrency played a crucial role in funding the 2022 trucker protests. The protesters are estimated to have received millions of dollars in support, though the exact total remains uncertain due to the challenges in tracking decentralized digital assets. In response to GoFundMe freezing over $9 million in donations for the protests, organizers turned to Tallycoin, a Bitcoin blockchain-based crowdfunding platform, and the Christian crowdfunding site GiveSendGo. These platforms saw substantial donations, with the HonkHonk Hodl group raising over 22 Bitcoin and GiveSendGo garnering over $8 million. Canadian authorities later froze bank accounts connected to GiveSendGo donations. Crypto executives, including Kraken founder Jesse Powell, criticized the government’s freeze of digital assets during this period.