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Freedom Convoy: GiveSendGo to Refund Donations, Says Canadian Government Trying to Seize, Redistribute Millions

Published: March 11, 2022
A woman holds a flag as protesters gather and party on Kent Street after police cleared Wellington Street, previously occupied by the Freedom Convoy, in Ottawa, on Feb. 19, 2022. - Police in riot gear cleared the main protest hub in downtown Ottawa on Feb. 19, using batons and pepper spray and making dozens of arrests. (Image: ANDREJ IVANOV/AFP via Getty Images)

The Christian crowdfunding platform, GiveSendGo, that Freedom Convoy organizers used to raise millions in donations to support the protests that rocked Canada’s capital of Ottawa for much of the month of February says the Canadian government is attempting to seize and redistribute donations made to support the truckers. 

In response, the platform is saying it will be refunding donations to all donors.

In a tweet on March 10 GiveSendGo said, “The Canadian government has criminalized the receiving of funds from the Canadian trucker campaigns and now are trying to seize the funds to redistribute. In order to protect our Givers and the intended purpose of their gifts, funds not already transferred to the recipients from the ‘Freedom Trucker Convoy’ campaign will be refunded.”

On Feb. 10, the Ontario provincial government, led by Premier Doug Ford, was granted a court order intended to freeze millions of dollars in donations to the “Freedom Convoy 2022” campaign on the GiveSendGo platform.

At the time, GiveSendGo responded,  “Know this! Canada has absolutely ZERO jurisdiction over how we manage our funds here at GiveSendGo. All funds for EVERY campaign on GiveSendGo flow directly to the recipients of those campaigns, not least of which is The Freedom Convoy campaign.”

Jacob Wells, a co-founder of the platform, told an Ontario Superior Judge on March 10, that he would be refunding funds to donors as opposed to allowing the Canadian government to seize the funds. 

Monique Jilesen, one of the lawyers for a class action lawsuit on behalf of Ottawa residents who say they were negatively impacted by the weeks-long protests, argued that the proposed refunds violated the court order obtained by the Ontario government. 

The class-action lawsuit has been pushing for the unclaimed funds and cryptocurrency to go into escrow to possibly later be redistributed to Ottawa residents and businesses, Global News reported.

However, presiding Justice, Calum MacLeod, said the order obtained by the Ontario provincial government was intended to target funds possessed by defendants, not undistributed funds still remaining on the GiveSendGo platform. 


The GiveSendGo Hack

On Feb. 13, the names and personal details of upwards of 100,000 individuals who donated to GiveSendGo in support of the Freedom Convoy were stolen and the data was published by Distributed Denial of Secrets (DDosSecrets) , an organization founded in 2018 that claims it’s a non-profit whistleblower.

Not long after the breach, a self-proclaimed hacker, Aubrey Cottle, who claims to be a founding member of the hacktivist group Anonymous, claimed responsibility for the hack in a disturbing video posted online.  

The illegally obtained data was then analyzed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Canada’s state-funded media organization, and the analysis was handed over to the Canadian federal government.

Canada’s federal government then used the analysis to identify and target key members of the Freedom Convoy protests. Wielding unprecedented powers granted them after invoking the never-before-used Emergencies Act, the Canadian federal government then froze personal and business bank accounts of individuals associated with the protests. Hundreds of bank accounts were frozen and donors, who donated as little as $20 to the campaign, were openly threatened with their personal accounts being seized by authorities.

The Canadian government’s authoritarian actions prompted speculations of a bank run in Canada and on Feb. 22 the Canadian authorities announced that they had begun unfreezing accounts.