Conservative MP Adam Chambers has criticized the way the RCMP shared information with financial institutions to freeze the accounts of Freedom Convoy supporters during the February emergency law appeal.
Chambers filed a Ministry inquiry with the RCMP in June to find out the details of the operation, which was first reported by Blacklock’s reporter on September 22. The Epoch Times independently verified the information.
The RCMP’s June 14 response said the information had been shared with up to 50 financial institutions via “unencrypted email” and was classified as “protected A.” The Canadian government defines “Protected A” as “information or assets which, if compromised, could cause harm to a person, entity or government”.
Federal police said the information provided to financial companies was “including but not limited to” names, dates of birth, addresses, associated vehicles, businesses and phone numbers.
“The disclosures were shared with designated contacts within the corporate security and/or anti-money laundering teams within the recipient institutions. This ensured the protection of personal data,” says the RCMP.
Chambers argued that the way RCMP shared information about people involved in the demonstrations was “arbitrary” and raised privacy and security concerns.
“Random would be an understatement,” Chambers said in response to the RCMP’s disclosure, according to Blacklock’s.
“The fact that no instructions or guard rails were given to the bodies that received this information should worry people,” he added. “Even the data protection officer has confirmed that his office is investigating how information has been handled.”
The Liberal government invoked the emergency law on February 14 to deal with nationwide lockdowns and protests calling for COVID-19 restrictions to be lifted.
One of the measures taken against protesters was the freezing of their financial accounts without a court order.
In February, Conservative MP Mark Strahl said the bank account of one of his MPs who had donated $50 to the Freedom Convoy had been frozen. In response to the allegation, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said the RCMP had given very limited information to financial institutions.
“The RCMP has given financial institutions names of leaders and organizers of the protests and of people whose trucks were part of occupations and blockades. That’s the only information the RCMP has given to financial institutions, according to the RCMP,” she said on Feb. 21.
The Department’s investigation shows that the RCMP made 57 separate disclosures on different companies, including 62 individuals and 17 companies.
This information was made available to 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 have frozen accounts in excess of the list provided by the RCMP, according to a banking association chief 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 have frozen 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 that financial institutions had frozen at least 257 accounts.
The Treasury Department told the Joint Special Committee on the Emergency Declaration (DEDC) on May 3 that it had not verified that its freezing measure had been properly applied by financial institutions, instead relying on their “good faith.”
The accounts were released when the public order emergency was lifted on February 23.
Mason said a mark would remain on the files of the companies affected by the action.
“I suspect the government is embarrassed by how indiscriminate their actions have been and I hope we will all forget it,” Chambers said Sept. 21. “They are not interested in transparency and they do not respect Parliament.”
After invoking the emergency law, the law requires a review through the establishment of a joint special committee and a commission of inquiry.
The DEDC committee has been meeting since mid-March, while the commission will begin hearings on October 13th.