Monday, February 20, 2023

The Rouleau Commission Report on Canada's Emergencies Act - The World's Newest Banana Republic

With the recent release of the report by the Paul Rouleau's Public Order Emergency Commission which investigated the Trudeau government's invocation of Canada's Emergencies Act in February 2022 in response to the Truckers' Protest, I thought it was a good time to look back at how the nation's government handled one aspect of the protest; that of asset-freezing as announced with great delight by Canada's Finance Minister, Chief Globalist and World Economic Forum insider, Chrystia Freeland:


It is this three minute proclamation by Freeland that has led to very significant speculation by the non-mainstream media and significant parts of the global citizenry that this signalling a future where governments can abscond with the assets of their citizens at any time and for any reason that politicians deem necessary.


Now, let's look at some excerpts from the 2000 plus page Rouleau report concerning the freezing of the assets of both protestors and those who supported them financially.  I'm providing some background for my readers who live outside of Canada and who may not be familiar with the intricacies of what happened in Ottawa in February 2022.


On Page 72 and 73 of Volume 3 (which is quoted throughout this posting) we find this (all bolds are mine):


"The Department of Finance considered measures that could be put in place under existing federal legislation both to dissuade people from being involved in the protests and blockades and to develop an approach that would persuade people to leave without anyone getting hurt. The Department of Finance’s contributions to the Track 1 discussions originated from a February 9 memo from Deputy Minister Sabia outlining options under the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTFA) and the Bank Act.


The memo noted that the PCMLTFA did not apply to crowdfunding platforms and payment service providers, and that the risk that they might be misused for money laundering or terrorist financing had recently been assessed as high and medium, respectively. Bringing these platforms under the PCMLTFA regime would, according to the memo, “help mitigate risks that these platforms receive illicit funds, increase the quality / quantity of intelligence received by [FINTRAC], and make more information available to support investigations by law enforcement.”19 Such a change could be done by way of regulations, rather than amending the Act itself.


After considering what could be done under authorities contained in the Bank Act, officials concluded that there were no useful tools under that statute as it stood. This led them to consider legislative amendments that could be introduced. The memo articulated a possible amendment that would enable Cabinet to issue directives to banks, where necessary, to maintain the strength and security of the national economy or to protect national security or the safety of Canadians. Under this proposal, directives could require banks to freeze the accounts of specific persons, or alternatively require banks to review their business relationships to temporarily suspend accounts being used to further illegal activities that threatened the economy.


The Department of Finance’s view, which was shared by Minister Freeland, was that there were significant limitations with both the PCMLTFA and Bank Act options. The Bank Act measures could only apply to federally regulated financial institutions, and not provincially regulated entities like credit unions. This was significant given the ease with which money can be moved between institutions. It also raised a fairness issue in the sense that measures would apply to some financial institutions but not others.


Another concern was the amount of time it would take to make legislative amendments. The Department of Finance’s view was that action needed to be taken immediately, and the fact that these options would require legislative (or at least regulatory) amendment was a significant impediment in the minds of those considering this action.


The Department of Finance also noted that the type of asset freezing that was being considered could raise concerns, given that Canadians usually expect to have access to their funds except in rare circumstances, such as when a court orders a freeze on an account. That concern arose again when the Government ultimately implemented a freezing regime under the Emergencies Act."


Note the use of the Precedes of Crime (Money Laundering( and Terrorist Financing Act; this promotes the narratives that the protestors and their supporters were both criminals and terrorists in the eyes of the Trudeau government.


Here are further quotes from pages 82 and 83


"One CEO raised a concern about the reputational harm the banks were experiencing as a result of the actions they had started taking on their own to prevent funding from flowing to the protests. He said that there had been considerable backlash on social media and that Fox News was apparently urging people to withdraw their money from the banks.


Much of the discussion on the call revolved around the inadequacies of the existing legal framework in terms of preventing financial support for continued protests, including gaps that had already been identified by the Department of Finance. One CEO noted that obtaining court orders to freeze assets was not a solution because by the time one was obtained, money could already have been moved. Minister Freeland remarked in her testimony that it was striking that the bank CEOs were asking for more Government intervention. This was not something the financial industry would normally do."


A lie?  Who knows.

We find this on page 116:


"The EEMO (Economic Emergency Measures Order) required a range of financial institutions to freeze the assets of people involved in public assemblies that violated the EMR (Emergency Measures Regulations). It accomplished this by describing which financial institutions were subject to the EEMO; defining the types of persons whose assets had to be frozen; setting out the specific obligations that financial institutions had to comply with; and facilitating the exchange of information between financial institutions and law enforcement so that the regime could be implemented and monitored....


Under the EEMO, covered financial institutions had certain obligations with respect to “designated persons.”  A designated person was simply anyone who was directly or indirectly involved in an activity that was prohibited by the EMR. In other words, designated persons were those who participated in a prohibited assembly; who entered Canada to join such an assembly; or who provided money, property, or other support to participants in such an assembly.


In other words, potentially any Canadian who even decided to donate a very small amount of money to the protest.


Here's what financial institutions could do under the EEMO:


"The second duty imposed on financial institutions was the duty to cease dealings with designated persons. This meant that financial institutions were not permitted to deal in any property owned or controlled by a designated person, could not facilitate any transactions related to a designated person’s property, could not make available any property to anyone for the benefit of a designated person, and could not provide any financial or related services to a designated person. In practical terms, this meant that financial institutions were required to entirely cut off designated persons from the financial system. Financial institutions were to freeze all accounts of designated persons, including Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs), mortgageaccounts, trading accounts, lines of credit, and credit cards. Online payment processors could not facilitate any purchase or sale involving a designated person. Cryptocurrency exchanges could not permit designated persons to access any currency held by the exchange or allow them to convert cryptocurrency into ordinary money...."


And here's the definition of a designated person from page 118:


"Technically, the duty to cease dealings did not apply solely to individuals actively participating in the prohibited assemblies. The definition of a “designated person” was broad enough to capture people who were violating any of the EMR’s prohibitions, including the one against giving property to others to support their protest activities. This meant that individuals who donated to a fundraiser in support of protesters would be designated persons, and all financial institutions would be under a duty to cease dealings with them."


Apparently, Freeland crafted the EEMO with a two-pronged approach:


1.) cut off major financial support to the protestors (i.e. the online fundraising efforts) 


2.) cause the majority of protestors and even those who had donated small amounts to the protest to be concerned about their financial accounts.


Now, let's look at Rouleau's findings about the use of asset-freezing starting with pages 264 and 265:


"The asset freezing regime, while highly impactful on protesters, did not involve physical force or violence. By encouraging protesters to leave without having to resort to force, the EEMO sought to achieve an end to the unlawful protests that did not place the physical well-being of protesters or others at risk. It was a proportionate response to the situation as it existed as of February 14, 2022.


It was not an infringement of section 8 of the Charter for the EEMO to require listed entities (i.e. banks) to freeze property owned, held, or controlled by persons engaging in prohibited activities. While the Charter protects individuals against “unreasonable search and seizure,” the freezing of assets under the EEMO is neither unreasonable nor a “seizure” for the purposes of section 8. The Supreme Court has explained that s. 8 is meant to promote an individual’s privacy interests. It does not protect against restrictions on the enjoyment of property. Accordingly, even the taking of property by government action would not, in itself, constitute a “seizure” for the purpose of section 8 unless it were done in the context of an administrative or criminal investigation. The EEMO did not constitute a taking of the assets in question; it only required designated institutions to freeze them. This was not meant to assist an administrative or criminal investigation, but to deter people from continuing to participate in illegal protests."


...and continuing with page 266:


"The EEMO required the freezing of assets for all “designated persons,” which would include not just protesters, but also small-dollar donors to the Freedom Convoy. On the other hand, the Federal Government stated, both in February 2022 and to the Commission, that it only wanted financial institutions to freeze the assets of protest leadership and major supporters. The message conveyed by the Government was that contributions to illegal protests were prohibited and exposed the donors to having their accounts frozen but that, at least at the outset, only significant donors would be targeted.


Ultimately, I do not find that the scope of the EEMO was inappropriate. Seeking to prevent any funds from supporting the illegal protests was, in my view, a reasonable measure in the circumstances. Further, the measure was not retrospective, meaning that those who had donated to the Freedom Convoy before the Emergencies Act was invoked were never at risk of having their assets frozen.


I note that in practice asset freezing was done largely on the basis of lists of designated persons provided by the RCMP to financial institutions. There appears to be no dispute that these lists did not capture small-dollar donors or others with only a peripheral connection to the protests. This mitigated the effects of the provision."


Here's what Rouleau says about people with joint bank accounts who found their accounts frozen on page 267:


"A related scope issue that I heard evidence about pertained to joint bank accounts. An individual who had no connection to the protests could still have had their assets frozen under the EEMO if they held their accounts jointly with a protester. It is not difficult to imagine a scenario where an individual would participate in the protests without the involvement of their spouse (or, indeed, against the spouse’s wishes). It is clearly unjust for individuals with no connection to the protests to have their accounts frozen.


The difficulty, however, is that this appears to have been unavoidable. None of the parties made submissions on how the EEMO could have been structured to avoid this consequence, and I am unable to think of an obvious mechanism myself. The question then is whether the inevitable impact of the EEMO on innocent third parties rendered the measure inappropriate. Again, and not without some hesitation, I conclude that the measures were still appropriate. Excluding joint accounts from the EEMO would have allowed the protesters to easily and quickly circumvent it by using or creating joint accounts."


Here's what he says on pages 268 and 269 about the fact that there was no adequate notice given to Canadians whose accounts were frozen, noting that there was no mechanism in place to unfreeze these accounts:


"I do not accept that there was a failure to provide adequate notice. While there was no formal obligation in the EEMO for financial institutions to tell their customers about asset freezing, I do not think it was necessary to include such a rule. What was required was for protesters to know ahead of time that they were at risk of having their assets frozen if they continued in the conduct that qualified them as designated persons. I am satisfied that the police and the Federal Government went to considerable lengths to inform protesters about the invocation of the Emergencies Act and the possible consequences that they would face if they continued in their participation in the protests. Although there was less publicity with respect to the prohibition on making donations, there is also no indication that any donors had their accounts frozen."


Finally, given the almost laughable nature and foregone conclusions of this inquiry, let's close with this quote found on page 157:


"It is also important to note that I am precluded from making findings of civil or criminal liability. I am, however, permitted to make findings of misconduct. The Commission took appropriate procedural steps to permit me to make some findings of misconduct, such as sending out confidential notices in writing outlining what findings could be made, and giving parties the opportunity to tender evidence, cross-examine witnesses, and make submissions."

In other words, this was a completely pointless exercise.


"Nonetheless, I have not, in fact, made findings of misconduct for two reasons. First, it was unnecessary to do so to fulfill my mandate. Second, although I have found that certain institutions and their representatives’ conduct was, at times, ill-advised or deficient, it did not rise to the level of misconduct. Put simply, the evidence did not support such findings on issues relevant to my mandate."

And, given that he didn't even find misconduct, the exercise was even more pointless.


Of course he didn't find the Liberal government of Justin Trudeau guilty of any misdeeds; he is a long-term Liberal appointee as shown here:



...and was appointed to the position of leading the Public Order Emergency Commission by the very same government that he was investigating as shown here:



Noting that she couldn't have cared less about the reasons behind the protest which stemmed from her government's overreach during the pandemic, one of Chrystia Freeland's greatest concerns was the possibility that Canada's trading partner to the south would regard Canada as some sort of "banana republic", a warning that she allegedly received from a CEO who relayed the comment from an anonymous U.S. investor.  In my opinion, the greater long-term concern is that the findings and recommendations of the Rouleau Commission will have a far greater likelihood of damaging Canada's international reputation as a democracy and a business-safe jurisdiction.  Rouleau's more-or-less complete vindication of the Trudeau government's egregious overstepping during the pandemic as a whole and the protest in specific with their asset-freezing program will cause both thinking Canadians and the business community outside of Canada to view the nation like this:

Whether you supported the reasons behind Canada's Truckers' Protest in 2022 or not, the most important thing to learn from the crushing of a protest by Canada's Trudeau government is that, at some point in the future, a totalitarian government will use a similar mechanism of asset-freezing to punish citizens who are backing a cause that you happen to be passionate about.  It also most certainly sets the stage for actions that could be taken against citizens under a social credit score system.

Apparently, the only way that Canadian's can meaningfully weigh in on the Trudeau government's behaviour on this issue is through the ballot box.  The entire protest would have been over very quickly had Canada's narcissist-in-chief taken a few minutes to actually address the protestors and at least pretend like he cared about their concerns rather than hiding from public view.


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