Rebel News recently filed for access to information documents pertaining to the finance department’s communications around the Freedom Convoy’s use of GoFundMe’s crowdfunding platform.
The Freedom Convoy was an anti-mandate demonstration which took place in the nation’s capital in late January and February of 2022. The protest remained entirely peacefully on the streets of Ottawa — until the federal government used the never-before-invoked counterterrorism law called the Emergencies Act to arrest convoy leaders and seize their assets and bank accounts.
Prior to the invocation of the Emergencies Act, federal and local officials leaned on GoFundMe to cut off a multimillion-dollar crowdfunding effort to support the convoy.
The response from the finance department to Rebel News said that no documents mentioning GoFundMe exist:
I must inform you that, after a thorough search, no records exist in the Department of Finance Canada concerning this request.
Inconveniently for the finance department, the bureaucrat in charge of responding to access filings has forgotten that multiple documents pertaining to GoFundMe were submitted to the Public Order Emergency Commission.
Finance officials could be seen passing around CBC articles about the convoy’s efforts to crowdfund on GoFundMe in email documents submitted to the POEC. CBC’s articles contained inaccurate assertions that the majority of crowdfunding to the convoy came from outside of Canada.
Further evidence at the POEC involved interviews conducted by commission lawyers of Finance Department officials:
When asked what information Finance had about the funding of border blockade activity compared to funding of activity in Ottawa, ADM Jacques stated that such information would have been obtained by the RCMP and law enforcement, though it became clear that funds were being raised by crowdfunding. She stated that Finance did not have names of particular individuals or entities involved in the protest or blockade activity but understood from media reports that major fundraisers on GoFundMe and GiveSendGo were supporting border blockades as well as the Ottawa protests. DM Sabia added that the Department did not have differentiated information about the money that was flowing to the protestors in Ottawa compared to those involved in the border blockades.