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Anonymous donations to convoy as high as $215,000 concern Canadian MPs


Seven of the top 10 donations listed on a fundraiser for the convoy occupying Ottawa and blockading some national border crossings are anonymous, as is the largest donation at US$215,000, according to the fundraising website.

And even as Ontario’s Attorney General has obtained a court order freezing any funds raised in two efforts on the American website GiveSendGo, donations continue to pour in, at $8.6 million and counting as of Friday morning.

It’s a sign Canada has to do more to understand the connection between crowdfunding and possible foreign sources of money and influence to domestic political groups, said a member on a national security committee looking into the crowdfunding efforts.

“For someone to donate a couple hundred thousand dollars — that’s an eye-opening amount,” said NDP MP Alistair MacGregor.

“There are a lot of anonymous donors, there are a lot of American donors donating to this, and we just want to make sure they are donating for innocent reasons and not nefarious ones,” he said.

On Thursday, the committee voted unanimously to expand their study of the Freedom Convoy’s fundraising efforts to include a study on the rise of ideologically motivated extremism, which included an invitation to GiveSendGo to appear before the committee.

The convoy’s previous fundraising platform, GoFundMe, raised more than $10 million before shutting down and refunding most of the money. That platform has agreed to attend a hearing on this issue in March, committee chair and Liberal MP Jim Carr said at the hearing.

A CTV News analysis of a sample of the donations to one of the GiveSendGo fundraisers showed that more than a third of the donations were anonymous, and of those that identified their geographical location somehow, about a third were from Canada and slightly more than half were from the United States.

Comments listed names like “From Oregon With Love” and “Buckhorn Texans for Freedom from Government.”

The top donation, $215,000, has a comment that says “processed but not recorded.” The next top donation, at $90,000, is listed as from Thomas M. Siebel. CTV News has reached out to the American billionaire by the same name but has not confirmed it is his donation.

The third highest donation, $75,000, is from an anonymous donor.

Stephanie Carvin, an associate professor of international affairs at Carleton University, said it’s clear the convoy has gotten the attention of America’s right-wing figures.

“We’ve seen the support for the truckers given out by Donald Trump Junior, by Elon Musk, we shouldn’t be surprised that they are directing their audience to what’s happening in Canada,” she said.

The use of foreign funds for political campaigns is largely prohibited in Canada, and domestic funds are largely limited to caps in the few thousands of dollars, she said.

“We have really strict election laws when it comes to financing. We don’t want our political parties beholden to foreign cash. But what happens when it’s a movement?” she said.

Garry Clement, a former Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer who is now an expert in money laundering, said any Canadian intermediary for the money should ask serious questions about its source, and its intended use, which could run afoul of Canadian money laundering regulations.

“Do we want to have money coming from a foreign state that disrupts Canada? The answer is no, and that should be a concern to intelligence agencies and the RCMP,” he said.

“Why would any Canadian bank accept this? They should be immediately sending it back because they can’t know who the people are who are funding this,” he said.

GiveSendGo tweeted Thursday night, “Know this! Canada has absolutely ZERO jurisdiction over how we manage our funds here at GiveSendGo. All funds for EVERY campaign on GiveSendGo flow directly to the recipients of those campaigns, not least of which is The Freedom Convoy campaign.”

In Ottawa, CTV News spoke with several protesters who said they did not have a problem with accepting foreign funds, mainly on the basis they believed they were part of a worldwide movement.

“We want to get our freedoms back and make this country something to be proud of again,” said Jay Sugrue from inside the cab of a truck. “It’s moving worldwide, it’s not just Canada.” Top Stories

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