Following the Money
As Canadian law enforcement dismantles "Freedom Convoy" protests blocking U.S.-Canada border crossings, the effective blockade of the capital, Ottawa, shows no signs of breaking up. Ottawa Police Services chief Peter Sloly stepped down Tuesday amid criticism of his tepid, ineffective response to the entrenched, disciplined, and logistically sophisticated occupation. As news of Sloly's departure reached the central protest encampment, "jubilant honking blared through the city," The New York Times reports.
"High above the clot of trucks on Ottawa's Parliament Hill, in hotel rooms just out of the fray, are the war rooms behind the operation," run by "a team of self-appointed leaders, some with military and right-wing organizing backgrounds," the Times reports. "On the ground," captains oversee each occupied road and block, checking in "on the drivers ensconced in their cabs, delivering things like hot breakfasts — doling out so much food that some protesters said they have to turn it away."
This all takes serious resources. Earlier in the three-week occupation, Sloly said a "significant" part of the funding was coming from the U.S. A hack of Christian crowdfunding site GiveGoSend on Sunday shows he was right: 56 percent of the 92,844 cataloged donors are American, according to an analysis of the leaked data by Canada's Globe and Mail.
On the other hand, about 52 percent of the nearly $9 million in documented donations came from Canada, versus 42 percent from the U.S., The Washington Post said. The largest single non-anonymous donation, $90,000, appears to have come from Silicon Valley billionaire Thomas Siebel. "Large donations were so significant that the top 1 percent of donors accounted for 20 per cent of all donations," the Globe and Mail reports. "The top 10 per cent, meanwhile, accounted for nearly 50 percent of all donations. The Post broke down the U.S. donations by zip code.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act on Monday to give law enforcement more tools to dismantle the occupation in Ottawa and at border crossings, and a key part of the strategy "is about following the money," Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said Monday. "This is about stopping the financing of these illegal blockades."
Canadian security analyst Jessica Davis told the CBC on Tuesday she doesn't think freezing the accounts of protesters and organizers will immediately dissolve the Ottawa protest, but it could make life very difficult for them in the medium term.