Responding to the now weeks-long, trucker-led protests that have snarled streets in Ottawa and blocked key crossings at the U.S.-Canada border, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this afternoon invoked the Emergencies Act for the first time since the law was passed in 1988.
“This is about keeping Canadians safe, protecting people’s jobs, and restoring faith in our institutions,” said the prime minister. Though the Emergencies Act allows for the military to be called in, Trudeau, for now, said he has no plans to do so.
The government instead appeared set to take aim at protesters’ finances. Speaking alongside Trudeau, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said banks can immediately freeze or suspend bank accounts without a court order and without fear of civil liability.
In addition, the government is broadening the scope of Canada’s anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing rules to now cover crowdfunding platforms and the payment service providers they use. These changes, said Freeland, cover all forms of transactions, including digital assets such as crypto.
The Tallycoin bitcoin fundraiser had reportedly raised more than 20 bitcoin (BTC) – or nearly $1 million – for the truckers. The organizers have shut down the fundraising page, and are asking everyone to “stay tuned” about the next steps.