Under pressure from the Canadian government, GoFundMe has decided to withhold $9 million of the funds raised by the truckers' Freedom Convoy ($1 million had already been withdrawn). Instead of automatically reimbursing the donors, though, GoFundMe is giving contributors until February 19 to request a refund.

This seems unfair, since some people will lack the time, information or ability to put in their requests. Unclaimed cash is then to be donated to “established” and “credible” charities proposed by the convoy's organizers — assuming they obtain GoFundMe’s approval (we serfs need authorization before we’re allowed to spend our money). (UPDATE:...

Under pressure from the Canadian government, GoFundMe has decided to withhold $9 million of the funds raised by the truckers’ Freedom Convoy ($1 million had already been withdrawn). Instead of automatically reimbursing the donors, though, GoFundMe is giving contributors until February 19 to request a refund.

This seems unfair, since some people will lack the time, information or ability to put in their requests. Unclaimed cash is then to be donated to “established” and “credible” charities proposed by the convoy’s organizers — assuming they obtain GoFundMe’s approval (we serfs need authorization before we’re allowed to spend our money). (UPDATE: GoFundMe has since announced they are “simplifying the process and automatically refunding donations.”)

This is an outrageously political move. The justification proffered by GoFundMe is feeble and deceives no one: they claim the demonstration has become an “occupation” and that “violence and other unlawful activity” is taking place, thus violating their terms of service.

But is it? Where and who are the bad actors? Surely the names of these violent offenders and the precise nature of their connection with the Freedom Convoy are all over the internet by now. Yes, we’ve heard a lot about a swastika flag and a Confederate flag, but if police have established their identities and their relation to the convoy, the world has yet to hear about it.

The Canada Revenue Agency claimed that office buildings had been ransacked by trucking protestors, but that was a lie. Street crime in the Centretown district dropped from thirty-one incidents the week before to just three in the week truckers have been present. No riots, no injuries, no deaths, say police. Protesters shovel and salt city sidewalks, clean up trash, and set up soup kitchens and woodfired pizza ovens to feed the homeless

Nonetheless some people in Ottawa feel they are being held “hostage” by the truckers (though if illegal threats were made, who are the guilty parties?) and that their city is “occupied” — emotionally charged language without precise meaning. Do they object to citizens simply existing in a public space?

And from there it’s been a short route to equating peaceful protesters to terrorists, demanding that the identities of donors to the GoFundMe be revealed — a Liberal member of Parliament did both on Friday (social credit, here we come!) — and government expropriation of funds intended to support lawful opposition. Isn’t that, er, a bit problematic?

In collaring the $9 million, Trudeau no doubt thinks he is breaking the backbone of the truckers’ movement: no more financial resources and, hopefully, the demoralization of its supporters. When it’s made clear that only powerful people can expect to be treated fairly, it terrorizes the little people into good behavior.

But Trudeau is underestimating the protesters. It becomes more apparent by the day that the Freedom Convoy group is extremely well organized. Its participants are patient and determined. Its leaders are professional, level-headed and calm. They’ve clearly made a study of the protests that have gone on all over the world in recent years and learned from mistakes made. It’s unlikely that this changeup will seriously affect their plans.

Certainly the loss of $9 million will have an impact. But it will also affect the fence-sitters who won’t be able to unsee the blatant unfairness of the move. Never interrupt your enemy when he’s making a mistake. Trudeau is singlehandedly demonstrating his tyrannical tendencies to the whole world. When you’re prime minister, skulduggery is never a good look.

It’s important to remember that the success of the GoFundMe campaign was not only the piling up of millions. It also served as an enormously valuable barometer of Canadian public sentiment. It revealed for all to see the true extent of opposition to Covid policies, concealed up to this point by dubious polling and strict media narrative control. It built momentum for the truckers as the total climbed and climbed. It was inspiring.

Just before the campaign was shut down, it had become the fifth most successful in GoFundMe’s history. Large numbers of Canadians wanted to spend whatever they could spare to end the mandates. All the mandates. For everyone.

Small donations pouring in showed that ordinary people from all over the country felt the truckers’ mission resonated with them in a special way. The messages left by donors were both in French and English, from Maritimers and British Columbians, from vaccinated and unvaccinated. The common themes were: thank you, end the mandates, and let’s stop the division between vaccinated and unvaccinated. It was a snapshot of the real Canada: generous, courageous, grateful.

As the giving increased, Liberals became more and more anxious. Gerry Butts, Trudeau’s gray eminence, said to be the power behind the throne, was nervous almost from the beginning, calling for an investigation into the GoFundMe. His instinct was to cut off the money and get a list of the sources — for “national security” purposes, of course. He clearly thought GoFundMe could be rendered pliable; it’s not the first time they’ve caved to political pressure.

The Liberals are playing hardball — and cheating — but that’s no surprise to the trucking convoy. Many of them would give more than money to ensure their children grow up in a free country: blood, sweat, toil and tears. It’s going to be a long haul, but that’s what truckers do best.