Roll Commission: $800,000 in bitcoins distributed to truckers | Commission of Inquiry into the State of Emergency
Convoy participants received only a tiny fraction of money raised online, report shows.
Some demonstrators had moved Thursday morning in front of the site where the Rouleau Commission hearings are being held in Ottawa.
Even if the truckers who occupied downtown Ottawa last winter were only able to collect a very small part of the $24 million raised thanks to the numerous crowdfunding campaigns launched in their name, a hundred of them nevertheless seen handing over approximately $800,000 in bitcoins on February 16 and 17.
This amount came from the Honk Honk Hod! campaign, which raised approximately $1.2 million. The distribution was made through envelopes containing instructions for accessing approximately C$8,000 in bitcoin from a mobile phone, a report from the Commission of Inquiry into #x27;state of emergency presented Thursday.
These envelopes are in addition to the sums of $500 and $2,000 in cash mentioned earlier this week by some organizers of the rally.
The Commission's report confirms that x27;A tiny fraction of the millions raised during or prior to the occupation of downtown Ottawa may have been used to fund the activities of the so-called “freedom convoy”. The rest was frozen, refunded or placed in an escrow account.
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The crowdfunding platform most used by organizers, GiveSendGo, notably raised $12.4 million. The majority of donors came from the United States.
In addition to the distribution of the sums raised online thanks to crowdfunding, communications were a complex issue to manage last winter, said Thursday morning the trucker Benjamin Dichter, who was at the head of the cell responsible for communications during the winter. #x27;occupation of downtown Ottawa.
When questioned by the Commission, Mr. Dichter – who was a former candidate in the riding of Toronto-Danforth for the Parti Conservative Party of Canada – gave new insight into the internal conflicts that plagued the work of organizers during the crisis.
The witness, who had been involved in the planning of the rally from mid-January, for example decried one of the first outings of the organizers, on February 4, saying that he had then lectured them for the negative tone used that day.
He also recounted having asked them to get rid of the activist Patrick (Pat) King, known for his particularly bitter rhetoric, which, to his dismay, never happened.Enlarge image
Benjamin Ditcher explained Thursday that he came to Ottawa in an effort to bring down health measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic and to spread a message of “peace, love, freedom and unity”.
Mr. Dichter also explained why he decided to only collaborate with alternative media like RT (formerly “Russia Today”) and Fox News, because he disagreed with the mainstream media narrative, such as the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star or CBC, the English network of Radio-Canada.
These organizations tried to link the convoy of truckers to the events leading up to the January 6, 2021 storming of the U.S. Capitol, which had nothing to do, he explained.
The witness also lamented the lack of communication regarding the agreement reached on February 12 between certain organizers and the City of Ottawa to move trucks out of downtown residential areas, which he at the time called fake news on Twitter.
The rumors about the deal, he said, were creating unnecessary anxiety and division among the protesters.
Even today, Mr. Ditcher refers to this agreement as a form of capitulation which, according to him, was secretly intended to end the rally.
The Trudeau government invoked the Emergencies Act on February 14, 2022 to end a rally of truckers and other protesters opposing COVID-19 health measures that paralyzed downtown Ottawa from Saturday, January 29 to Sunday, February 20.
This law – adopted in 1988 to succeed the War Measures Act – provides in particular that a public inquiry must a fortiori examine the circumstances which led the authorities to take such a decision.
Since Tuesday, half a dozen witnesses who participated in the occupation of downtown Ottawa have marched before Judge Paul Rouleau, describing in particular the “power struggles” that emerged at the height of the events , last winter.
The lead attorney for the rally organizers, Keith Wilson, also revealed on Wednesday that leaks from across the police force fed the freedom convoy with insider information, which sparked a strong reaction.
Other well-known figures among the protesters will be heard by the end of the week, including veteran Jeremy MacKenzie, who is expected to appear by videoconference, currently being held in a Saskatchewan prison.
< p class="e-p">These testimonies follow that of former Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly, whose cross-examination on Monday shed light on the conflicts that arose during the crisis between him and his assistants at the time, Patricia (Trish) Ferguson and Steven (Steve) Bell.
Eventually, 70 people will have appeared, including Justin Trudeau. Ontario Premier Doug Ford also received a subpoena, but he refuses to walk away from it. Since then, a judge has agreed to hear his request. Mr. Ford believes that the matter falls exclusively within the federal jurisdiction, which Commissioner Rouleau disputes.