May 29, 2024
Judge Rules Canada's Freezing of Protesters' Crypto Donations Unconstitutional
Policy & Regulation

Judge Rules Canada’s Freezing of Protesters’ Crypto Donations Unconstitutional

In a landmark decision, the Federal Court of Canada declared an emergency law, which granted the Canadian government the authority to halt the flow of funds and cryptocurrency to protesting truckers, as unreasonable and unconstitutional. Justice Richard Mosley, in a ruling on January 23, asserted, “There was no national emergency justifying the invocation of the Emergencies Act, and the decision to do so was therefore unreasonable.”

The controversy dates back to February 2022 when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government utilized the law for the first time to freeze funds, including cryptocurrencies, donated to truckers protesting COVID-19 restrictions. The court found this action unconstitutional.

The protesters, part of the “Freedom Convoy,” used trucks to block streets in Ottawa, the nation’s capital, in objection to a mandate requiring truck drivers crossing the Canada-United States border to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The government argued that invoking the Emergencies Act was necessary, framing the protests as an illegal occupation.

Various organizations, including the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) and the Canadian Constitution Foundation, contested the government’s use of the emergency law, deeming it unnecessary and unconstitutional. The recent decision, according to the CCLA, “sets a clear and critical precedent for every future government.”

Justice Mosley emphasized that the Emergencies Act should only be invoked as a last resort, stating, “The government cannot invoke the Emergencies Act because it is convenient or because it may work better than other tools at their disposal or available to the provinces.”

Despite the court’s ruling, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland has announced that the government plans to appeal the decision.

Cryptocurrency played a pivotal role in funding the 2022 trucker protests, with estimates suggesting that protesters received millions of dollars. However, the exact total remains unclear due to the challenges of tracking decentralized digital assets.

In February 2022, crowdfunding platform GoFundMe froze over $9 million in donations raised for the protests. Subsequently, organizers shifted their efforts to Tallycoin, a crowdfunding platform built on the Bitcoin blockchain. The HonkHonk Hodl group raised over 22 Bitcoins, valued at approximately $925,000 at the time.

The Christian crowdfunding site GiveSendGo also emerged as a popular donation platform, raising over $8 million for the truckers, including unspecified amounts in cryptocurrency. However, Canadian authorities later froze bank accounts connected to GiveSendGo donations.

During this period, notable crypto figures, including Kraken founder Jesse Powell, condemned Canada’s freezing of digital assets. The ruling by the Federal Court underscores the significance of legal considerations in handling emergent situations involving cryptocurrency and its potential impact on protests and fundraising activities.


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