An honest outpouring of support by Canadians to the Freedom Convoy truckers had nothing to do with funding terrorism, a federal regulator told the Commons finance committee on Thursday.
“It was their own money,” testified Barry MacKillop, deputy director of the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre.
“It wasn’t cash that funded terrorism or was in any way money laundering.”
Blacklock’s Reporter said cabinet on February 15 invoked regulations to punish donors under a 9/11 anti-terror law, the 2001 Proceeds Of Crime And Terrorist Financing Act. Regulations permitted banks to freeze accounts of Canadians who donated cash to truckers protesting vaccine mandates.
Regulations under the Emergencies Act also mandated federal reporting of donations by crowdfunding sites like GiveSendGo that raised $10.6 million before the Government of Ontario won a February 10 court order to freeze the account. All emergency federal orders were lifted Wednesday.
MacKillop on Thursday told the Commons finance committee he did not consider the crowdfunding suspicious.
“These were people who supported the cause before it was declared illegal,” he said.
“There were people around the world who were fed up with COVID and were upset and saw the demonstrations. I believe they just wanted to support the cause.”
The Terrorist Financing Act mandates reporting of cash transactions of $10,000 or more by banks, casinos, realtors and others. Cabinet mandated reporting by crowdfunding sites during the Freedom Convoy crackdown.
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland proposed that crowdfunding surveillance become permanent, a measure that would require new legislation.
“This will help mitigate the risk these platforms receive illicit funds,” Freeland told reporters February 14.
“We are making these changes because we know these platforms are being used to support illegal blockades and illegal activity which is damaging the Canadian economy.”
The Freedom Convoy “highlighted the fact that crowdfunding platforms and some of the payment service providers they use are not fully captured under the Terrorist Financing Act,” said Freeland.
But Conservative MP Greg McLean (Calgary Centre) noted crowdfunding sites are already regulated by the provinces.
“The money flowing into them is already regulated,” McLean told the committee.
“You are correct,” replied MacKillop.
The Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre in February 11 testimony at the Commons public safety committee said it had no issue with Freedom Convoy fundraising.
“There are many other ways, probably easier ways, to launder cash or collect money for terrorist activity,” testified MacKillop.