Sarnia-Lambton MP Marilyn Gladu says some of her constituents are being caught up in an RCMP action to freeze the bank accounts of people involved in a recent protest in Ottawa just for making a donation or buying a T-shirt.
She’s says it’s just one example of the “vast overreach” of the Emergency Act in place to deal with the so called Freedom Convoy which crippled Ottawa for nearly four weeks and caused the shutdowns of both the Ambassador and Bluewater Bridges in February.
The protesters organized by Canada Unity want all COVID-19 mandates dropped. The group said it wanted to remove the current government and form an interim government themselves with the governor general and senate to accomplish it.
The protesters dug in and had been in the capital since Jan. 28. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau used the Emergencies Act – the first time that has ever been done – to bring the situation which crippled the capital and caused Gladu to return to her riding for her safety to an end.
The Conservative Party and Gladu have protested the move saying the protest could have been ended with powers already in place.
Under the act, the government can begin to use its powers before it is approved by Parliament. One of the first thing to happen was bank accounts linked to the protest were seized.
Gladu says less than a dozen people from the area have contacted her saying they didn’t have access to their money even though they only donated money.
“We have multiple constituents, had their bank accounts frozen, due to buying freedom convoy T shirts for $20, or I had another individual donated $50,” she tells The Independent. The MP is also worried about other people who have donated and whose information in now in the public domain and are concern their accounts may be next.
“I have heard of the financial institutions here that are telling people, they’re going to freeze their accounts…I’m concerned, because I think that this is way overreach on the part of the government.”
When asked if she was 100 per cent certain the accounts had been frozen because of the Emergency Act, Gladu said: “I don’t have all of the details, I have what the people are telling me. I’m not sure whether they got frozen by provincial emergency by federal emergency but the fact that they’re contacting me, that’s the information that I have at this point. And so I’m expressing the concern.
“This is obviously for the investigation of the people that are actively involved at whatever level of government to go and explain to Canadians why people that buy T shirts are having serious financial punitive measures taken against them.”
Both the RCMP and local banks say people who have made small donations or purchased T-shirts will not have their assets frozen.
Over the weekend, Gladu engaged with a constituent on social media who said he’d been told by someone at his local Libro Credit Union if he bought a T-shirt or made a donation his assets would be frozen.
Officials from Libro Financial say that’s simply not true.
Mike Donachie, the communications manager for Libro says it is “simply not the case that Libro has or intends to freeze any accounts for small donations. There’s no truth to that.”
The RCMP also clarified the situation issuing a news release Tuesday. “Under the emergency economic measures order (Emergencies Act), the list that was provided to financial institutions included identities of individuals who were influencers in the illegal protest in Ottawa, and owners and/or drivers of vehicles who did not want to leave the area impacted by the protest. At no time did we provide a list of donors to financial institutions.”
Gladu and the Conservatives were joined by the Bloc Quebecois opposing the minority Liberal government’s move to use the Emergency Measures Act which allows the RCMP to seize bank accounts.
The Sarnia-Lambton MP says that while there are provisions for an inquiry into the move and even though the NDP could withdraw its support at any time to end the measures, she believes the Liberals should not have used the extraordinary measures. “They have given themselves unlimited powers and they can extend them at will,” she says adding the Prime Minister can invoke more measures and “there are no parameters around those measures.
“The other thing that is very disturbing to me, is that after the convoy was cleared, they still persisted in putting these emergency measures in place. And the question was asked to the Prime Minister, ‘what additional things do you need? That you don’t have know that everything’s cleared out?
“There it is over reach.”