Emergency Act: Ottawa says 76 accounts frozen

Dozens of accounts with financial services firms have been frozen under new powers granted by the Emergency Act over the past five days, Public Security Minister Marco Mendicino said Saturday.

Speaking at a virtual news conference that began just as police officers cleared protesters from Wellington Street in front of Parliament, Mendicino said “at least 76” accounts containing about $3.2 million had been frozen under the Act.

“The figures we can give you so far … show very clearly how the State of Emergency Act is being used to bring about a peaceful settlement of the illegal blockade,” he said.

Federal officials previously declined to provide specifics how many accounts were affected, citing a desire to maintain secrecy while police operations were ongoing.

When the Emergency Act came into effect on Monday, banks and other financial institutions were directed to stop providing services to accounts allegedly used to continue the ‘Freedom Convoy’ protests in Ottawa or other blockades. They are also empowered to do so without first obtaining a court order, which is common in business.

Mendicino said Saturday that Canada’s Center for Transaction Analysis and Financial Statements is working with “small and medium-sized banks” to enforce the directive issued earlier this week.

He described the new powers as a “strong financial disincentive” that could suppress protesters without resorting to physical force.

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