Ontario court freezes access to donations for anti-mandate protest from ‘GiveSendGo’

By Lucas Casaletto

On Thursday, Ontario’s government obtained an order from the Superior Court of Justice to effectively prohibit demonstrators protesting against COVID-19 mandates from receiving charitable donations through the Christian crowdfunding website GiveSendGo.

“Today, the Attorney General brought an application in the Superior Court of Justice for an order pursuant to section 490.8 of the Criminal Code prohibiting any person from disposing of, or otherwise dealing with, in any manner whatsoever, any and all monetary donations made through the Freedom Convoy 2022 and Adopt-a-Trucker campaign pages on the GiveSendGo online fundraising platform,” Ford wrote, according to his spokeswoman, Ivana Yelich.

“This afternoon, the order was issued. It binds any and all parties with possession or control over these donations.”

Two weeks ago, hundreds of semi-trucks rolled into downtown Ottawa to protest COVID-19 vaccine mandates and health restrictions. Now trucks are also blockading border crossings in Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario.

The Adopt-a-Trucker campaign, created by Chris Garrah, is depicted as a fundraiser to help raise money for truckers needing “housing, water, food, accommodations and shuttle services.” As of Thursday, “Freedom Convoy 2022” had raised $US8.4-million, and “Adopt-a-Trucker” had amassed more than $686,000.

GiveSendGo, a self-described free Christian crowdfunding website, seemingly responded to the court action, saying, in part, “Canada has absolutely ZERO jurisdiction over how we manage our funds.”

“All funds for EVERY campaign on GiveSendGo flow directly to the recipients of those campaigns, not least of which is The Freedom Convoy campaign,” they wrote in a tweet.

Organizers have touted cryptocurrency as another way to generate funds for protesters and avoid other potential fundraising shutdowns, including during a news conference that was live-streamed to supporters on Wednesday.

Last week, the globally-recognized crowdfunding website GoFundMe removed the donations page to the Freedom Convoy 2022. It began offering full refunds after over $10 million was raised to help support what they describe as “violence and other unlawful activity.”

GoFundMe said that following a review of “relevant facts and multiple discussions with local law enforcement and city officials,” the specific fundraiser violated its terms of service (which prohibits the promotion of violence and harassment) and has since been removed.

The “Freedom Convoy 2022” fundraiser was the second-largest in Canada after a campaign was created following the Humboldt Broncos bus crash in 2018 that raised $15 million.

ottawa counter-protesters

Counter-protesters, in opposition to a protest against COVID-19 restrictions, gather across the street in front of City Hall, in Ottawa, Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022. Photo courtesy: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

According to the CBC, hundreds of the GoFundMe donations came from donors who claimed to be located outside Canada. This included anonymous donations from different countries, including the U.S., Sweden, Denmark, Germany, and Australia.

After the U.S., the location cited most often by donors was the United Kingdom.

Officials looked to the courts Thursday to put an end to what they called an “illegal occupation” at the foot of the Ambassador Bridge, as protesters made themselves comfortable days into a demonstration that’s largely shut down one of Canada’s busiest border crossings.

“To those who are thinking about joining the protest, let me just say this: you are not welcome here,” Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens said at a news conference.

On Wednesday, Ford said he spoke with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about the ongoing disruptions caused by protests in Ottawa and Windsor.

“We will continue working together to support our police forces as they manage these situations,” Ford said. “We both agreed this must come to an end.”

With files from Stephanie Taylor of The Canadian Press

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