RCMP Sharing of Private Info With Banks to Freeze Freedom Convoy Accounts Was ‘Haphazard’: Tory MP

RCMP Sharing of Private Info With Banks to Freeze Freedom Convoy Accounts Was ‘Haphazard’: Tory MP
Protesters demanding the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions sit atop a truck in front of Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Feb. 5, 2022. (Noé Chartier/The Epoch Times)
Noé Chartier

Conservative MP Adam Chambers is criticizing the way the RCMP shared information with financial institutions to freeze the accounts of Freedom Convoy supporters during the invocation of the Emergencies Act in February.

Chambers filed an Inquiry of Ministry with the RCMP in June to find out the details about the operation, which was first reported on by Blacklock’s Reporter on Sept. 22. The Epoch Times has independently verified the information.
In the RCMP's response on June 14, it said the information was disclosed to up to 50 financial institutions by "unencrypted e-mail" and classified as "Protected A." The Canadian government refers to “Protected A” as “information or assets that, if compromised, could cause injury to an individual, organization or government.”

The federal police force said the information provided to financial entities “included but was not limited to” name, date of birth, addresses, associated vehicles, businesses, and phone numbers.

“The disclosures were shared with specific points of contacts within the corporate security and/or anti-money laundering teams within the recipient institutions. This ensured the safeguarding of personal information,” says the RCMP.

Chambers argued that the way RCMP shared the information about individuals involved in the demonstrations was "haphazard," sparking privacy and security concerns.

“Haphazard would be an understatement,” Chambers said in reacting to the RCMP’s disclosure, according to Blacklock's.

“That there were no instructions or guard rails provided to entities that received this information should concern people,” he added. “Even the Privacy Commissioner has confirmed his office is investigating how information was handled.”

Emergencies Act

The Liberal government invoked the Emergencies Act on Feb. 14 to deal with cross-country blockades and protests demanding the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions.

One of the measures used to crack down on protesters was the freezing of their financial accounts without a court order.

In February, Conservative MP Mark Strahl said that one of his constiuents who donated $50 to the Freedom Convoy had had her bank account frozen. In responding to the claim, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said the RCMP had given very limited information to financial institutions.

“The RCMP has given to the financial institutions names of leaders and organizers of the protests and of people whose trucks were part of occupations and blockades. That is the only information given, according to the RCMP, that the RCMP has given to financial institutions,” she said on Feb. 21.

The Inquiry of Ministry indicates the RCMP made 57 separate disclosures on different entities, including 62 individuals and 17 businesses.

That information was provided to the financial institutions, including banks, the Canadian Bankers Association (CBA), the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada, the Canadian Securities Administration, Credit Unions, and the Mutual Fund Dealers Association.

Banks froze accounts beyond the list provided by the RCMP, according to a bank association executive who testified before the House of Commons finance committee in March.

Angelina Mason, general counsel and vice-president of the Canadian Bankers Association (CBA), said banks froze a small number of accounts using their own “risk-based approach.”

Mason said banks froze 180 accounts based on RCMP disclosures.

The RCMP told the same committee in March financial institutions froze at least 257 accounts.

The Department of Finance told the Special Joint Committee on the Declaration of Emergency (DEDC) on May 3 that it did not verify if its freezing measure was applied properly by financial institutions, instead relying on their “good faith.”

The accounts were unfrozen when the public order emergency was revoked on Feb. 23.

Mason said that a mark would remain on the files of entities who were affected by the measure.

“I suspect the government is embarrassed about how haphazard their approach was and are hoping we will all forget about it,” Chambers said on Sept. 21. “They are not interested in transparency and they don’t respect Parliament.”

Following the invocation of the Emergencies Act, the law requires a review by the establishment of a special joint committee and a commission of inquiry.

The DEDC committee has been meeting since mid-March, whereas the commission will begin hearings on Oct. 13.

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