Financial measures applied under the Emergencies Act

Current developments related to declaration of Public Order Emergency

While debate was taking place in the House of Commons, February 17, on whether or not it will approve the Liberal’s invoking of the Emergencies Act and the related regulatory powers, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland announced to the media rather than the House that she had ordered financial institutions to comply with its regulations.

Freeland told reporters, “It gives me no pleasure to impose any of these measures. In fact, we do so with great sorrow. But do not doubt our determination to act, to defend our democracy, to defend our economy, and to restore peace, order and good government.”

Among the extraordinary state powers in place under the Emergencies Act, financial institutions can be ordered to comply with measures targeting what has been described by Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland as a “sustained, coordinated and foreign-funded threat” against “our economy, our democracy, and Canada’s international standing in the world.”

These measures include:

– Broadening the scope of Canada’s anti-money laundering and terrorist financing rules to cover crowdfunding platforms and their payment service providers, and requiring them to report large and suspicious transactions to the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC);

– Directing our financial institutions to freeze or suspend the accounts of individuals and businesses affiliated with the illegal blockades;

– Requiring financial institutions to review their relationships with anyone involved in the blockades, and to report to our national security agencies;

Requiring a corporation, trust, partnership, fund, unincorporated association or organization or foreign state to cease providing any financial or related services to or for the benefit of any designated person or acquiring any such services from or for the benefit of any such person or entity. (To include an insurance policy for any vehicle being used in a public assembly referred to in subsection 2(1) of the Emergency Measures Regulations.)

– And providing federal, provincial, and territorial government institutions with the authority to share information with banks and financial services providers that will help put a stop to the funding of illegal blockades and illegal activities.

The regulations define a person who can be cut off from financial services as someone who is “directly or indirectly” participating in a “public assembly that may reasonably be expected to lead to a breach of the peace,” or a person engaging in “serious interference with trade” or “critical infrastructure.”

Freeland warned Convoy participants of the new powers that could be used against them, telling them “It is time for you to go home.” She added, “And let me also be clear that we will have zero tolerance for the establishment of new blockades or occupations. We now have the tools to follow the money, we can see what is happening and what is being planned, and we are absolutely determined that this must end now and for good.” On February 15 and again on February 17, Freeland also warned that the owners of trucks being used in the occupation would have their insurance cancelled if they did not take their big rigs and go home.

The regulations stipulate it is up to the banks to “determine on a continuing basis whether they are in possession or control of property that is owned, held or controlled by or on behalf of a designated person.” According to the news reports, banks will be working with law enforcement to decide who should be “de-banked.”

A senior government official told CBC that “information will flow back and forth” between the RCMP and the government’s financial intelligence unit FINTRAC.

Police could gather the names and licence plate numbers of people participating in a protest or an unlawful assembly and share that information with FINTRAC, the official said.

A spokesperson for the Canadian Bankers Association, the industry group that represents 60 domestic and foreign banks, said its members will “follow all applicable laws and regulations but it doesn’t anticipate too much disruption.

Banks have been granted immunity against legal action in the event of disputes over whether someone should have been denied financial services.

“No proceedings under the Emergencies Act and no civil proceedings lie against an entity for complying with this Order,” the regulations read.

The fact that those designated are not charged with any offence of any kind and it is at the sole discretion of police forces is not taken up as a problem by the media.

News reports indicate that the Toronto Dominion Bank has frozen accounts holding nearly $1.4 million.

(Renewal Update, posted February 19, 2022)

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