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First Things | How Canada punishes protesters

First Things: 'Last month, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet used special powers under the Emergencies Act to freeze the bank accounts of Canadian citizens who supported Freedom Convoy protests against vaccine mandates. The government partnered with banks and other businesses to “de-bank” Canadians, circumventing due process and normalizing a dangerous, undemocratic policy. Canada has since revoked the Emergencies Act and instructed banks to unfreeze the targeted bank accounts, but this action set a dangerous precedent.

'On February 22, the House of Commons Finance Committee questioned Department of Finance Assistant Deputy Minister Isabelle Jacques about the details of these financial measures. The government revealed that more than 206 accounts were frozen. Exactly how many “more” was not indicated. Trudeau revoked the Emergencies Act on February 23. But we still do not know how many accounts were frozen. No judicial review is permitted of the actions of banks under the Emergencies Act...

'...Canada set a new legal precedent by introducing collective punishment for individual crimes. Some of those targeted were only indirectly, even unknowingly, related to the protests. According to one MP, “The de-banking provisions are so broad, that literally a clerk at a Kwik-E-Mart who sold a propane canister to a protester could have his account frozen.” Furthermore, family members completely unrelated to the “criminal” acts were targeted. If a husband and father took part in the protest and his bank account was frozen, his wife and children were thereby punished, even though the wife and children did nothing wrong. Totalitarian regimes do this; liberal democracies do not.

'Some may assume that since Trudeau revoked the Emergency Act on February 23, everything is fine now and we can forget about this whole affair. However, it is more realistic to assume that this was a “trial run” to see how much public opposition there would be to such actions. Trudeau’s government got a black eye from this misadventure, but public pressure should be exerted on him continuously until he resigns from office. Otherwise, we risk future attacks on democracy....'

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