Ottawa, Canada – Over the last three weeks, police services across the country have been responding to unprecedented and unlawful demonstrations, protests, occupations, and acts of civil disobedience. Federal and provincial legislation provides significant authorities and powers to police services to maintain the rule of law, however, the illegal blockades and unlawful protests in Ottawa and across the country have presented unique challenges which have compelled a unique response.
The RCMP echoes policing partners in supporting the fundamental objectives of the invocation of the Emergencies Act, Emergency Measures Regulations and Emergency Economic Measures Order, while still supporting the fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed to all Canadians.
As the RCMP and law enforcement partners have worked through the operation in Ottawa, we have seen the benefits of the Emergencies Act. Provisions of the Act have granted us the authorities necessary to maintain the perimeter, restrict travel and ensure that we can continue to stop financial support and other assistance for this unlawful protest.
Outside of Ottawa, the most immediate impact of the Emergencies Act has been on public messaging and communication. We believe that the Emergencies Act has been a deterrent for at least some protest groups in how they conduct themselves. The Act has been an additional tool for our Public Liaison Officers who are engaging with groups to seek to minimize disruptions and ensure that protests remain lawful.
The Emergencies Act has also allowed law enforcement and monitoring agencies to work more closely with Canadian financial institutions; enhancing the effectiveness of law enforcement conducting investigations. While it remains the responsibility of the financial institutions to make the decision of freezing accounts, the RCMP is diligently working with our law enforcement and federal partners to disclose relevant information of individuals and companies suspected of involvement in illegal acts. The list that was provided to financial institutions included identities of individuals who were influencers in the illegal protest in Ottawa, and owners and/or drivers of vehicles who did not want to leave the area impacted by the protest. At no time, did we provide a list of donors to Financial Institutions.
So far, this effort has culminated in the freezing of 219 financial products; the disclosure of 57 entities; the addresses of 253 Bitcoin shared with virtual currency exchangers; and, the proactive freezing of the account of a payment processor for a value of $3.8M by a financial institution. We continue to work at collecting relevant information on persons, vehicles and companies, and remain in daily communication with the financial institutions to assist them.
The RCMP is proud of the professional and collaborative response of Canadian police agencies, including the thousands of RCMP employees – from those on the front lines to those supporting behind the scenes – their collective efforts are working to bring a successful resolution to this unprecedented challenge.
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