- TD Bank froze $1.1 million (C$1.4 million) in donations to Canadian “Freedom Convoy” protesters shutting down traffic in Ottawa and at various border crossings with the U.S. in a show of opposition to COVID vaccine mandates for cross-border truckers.
- The bank sought go-ahead from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on Friday, before idling two personal accounts into which the funds had been donated, Reuters reported Saturday.
- Traffic resumed between Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit at the countries' busiest border crossing Sunday night after a bridge connecting the two cities was cleared of a near-week long blockade.
Truckers protesting vaccine mandates and other government restrictions, since late January, have parked hundreds of semis in downtown Ottawa and at vital border crossings between Canada and the U.S., snarling traffic and trade between the two countries.
GoFundMe announced Feb. 4 it had received “evidence from law enforcement that the previously peaceful demonstration has become an occupation, with police reports of violence and other unlawful activity,” and that it would seek to return all donations intended for the Freedom Convoy.
The next day, Business Insider reported that GoFundMe blocked $10 million in such funds from reaching protesters. The money was intended to cover the cost of food, fuel and other expenses for the activists, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Donors switched to an alternative crowdfunding website, GiveSendGo, and donated another $8.4 million for the protesters by Thursday, according to The Globe and Mail. That day, the Ontario government received the green light from the Superior Court of Justice to freeze the funds sent through GiveSendGo.
“Canada has absolutely ZERO jurisdiction over how we manage out funds here at GiveSendGo,” the company clapped back on Twitter.
Meantime, protesters honed in on the Ambassador Bridge, causing a bottleneck that began Feb. 7 and stretched for six days before police arrested 25 to 30 activists Sunday and cleared a logjam of trucks on the span, The Wall Street Journal reported.
TD, for its part, applied to seize donations deposited into two personal accounts with the bank, so the money can either be delivered to its intended beneficiaries or returned to its senders “who have requested refunds but whose entitlement to a refund cannot be determined by TD,” the firm said in a statement shared with Reuters.
Keith Wilson, a lawyer representing the protesters, told Reuters that TD Bank has been informed "their actions are improper and disappointing," and that the protesters will seek a court order to relinquish the donations to a newly established nonprofit corporation.
About C$1 million had been sent to one account via GoFundMe, while the rest of the donations were sent through bank e-transfers to the other account, the wire service reported.
About 70% of Canadian respondents to a survey by the Angus Reid Institute oppose the Freedom Convoy’s tactics. Still, donations in support of the truckers are pouring in. Some supporters have touted Bitcoin as a possible route to deliver funds to the protesters, according to The Globe and Mail.