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Ottawa protest: crowdfunding companies fight back

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Maria Gill
Maria Gill
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President GoFundMe Assures him: His company did not stand idly by in the face of the development of the situation in Ottawa, where the demonstration of truck drivers disrupted the lives of residents and closed the downtown area for more than three weeks in February.

According to Juan Benitez, the day after the launch of a fundraising campaign to support Freedom CaravanBecause of the sheer volume of activity she was generating, her team began monitoring her.

Juan Benitez, President of GoFundMe

Photo: Radio Canada / screenshot

When this campaign was launched on January 14th, it was in compliance with our regulations. There was no indication that there would be a problemKim, the platform’s chief legal officer, added Wilford.

The past activities of the organizers or donors were not part of the criteria for determining whether a campaign meets the campaign’s terms of service. GoFundMeHowever, the head of the crowdfunding site admitted.

This group and this campaign was really something new. The scale and the speed with which it was changing… […] But this is not our place to cover everything that people have said in the past on other media platforms. »

Quote from Juan Benitez, President of GoFundMe

The campaign raised more than $10 million, before the crowdfunding company finally halted it on February 4 due to information the company says it has collected, including from the Ottawa authorities.

When we receive reliable information […] We understand that she has crossed our boundaries and service rulesThe lady said Wilford.

However, she says proud How did the company handle this campaign?

GiveSendGo Blame the governments

Then the fundraising campaign moved to the site GiveSendGoChristian platform founded in 2014.

Its founders, Jacob Wells And the Heather WilsonThey boldly defended their decision to continue fundraising despite the withdrawal GoFundMe.

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We have allowed those who supported the caravan to support it and provided a platform for the caravan to do what it considers important: to travel to the capital to express its views.Ms. , justified. Wilsonwho explained it GiveSendGo It would have hosted a potential crowdfunding campaign for opponents of the caravan.

The site has previously funded fundraising campaigns for the far-right group proud boysMrs. admitted Wilson.

We believe that the danger of speech suppression is much greater than the danger of speech itselfMr. argued. Wells.

According to the latest report, the truck drivers’ demonstration in Ottawa gave no indication of serious violations.

The perception I had was that there was a protest going on against what some believed to be the excesses of the Canadian government. We believe that protests are part of democracy. […] In our opinion it was a mostly peaceful demonstration, with a fringe group trying to distort everythingHe said. We talked about the occupation. These are military terms and I don’t think that is the case here.

The government needs to be more proactive and reach out to those it deems to be in violation […] The Bible says: If you have a problem with someone, talk to them. »

Quote from Heather Wilson, co-founder of Jeff Sendjo crowdfunding

Ms Wilson He criticizes the government for not contacting the crowdfunding company to put an end to the crackdown.

I don’t know why she didn’t ask us to look at the situation. […] We tried to sail as best we could. […] If Mr. Trudeau spoke to the truck drivers, everything could have been avoidedshe told parliamentarians.

Mainly Canadian donations

With Ottawa concerned about foreign interference in trucking traffic, the two crowdfunding companies said Thursday that the majority of donations raised on their platforms came from Canada.

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Our records show that 88% of the funds given to the campaign originated in Canada, and that 86% of the donors were from Canada.Mr. Benitez said.

On GiveSendGo63% of the money came from Canada and 37% from the United States, Mr. Wells.

residing in New HampshireAnd the Roy Bettelwho says he works in the field of cyber security, is among those Americans who decided to contribute to the campaign on the site GiveSendGo.

Part of my family lives in Toronto. One of my cousins ​​asked me if I had heard of this caravan […] I did more research on the internet […] At first there wasn’t much information, then after that it was all over the place, and you can’t escape from itHe says.

Man in video interview, arms crossed, sitting.

Roy Bettel, a New Hampshire resident, made a donation to truck drivers’ protest organizers.

Photo: Radio Canada / screenshot

He explained that he waited to see the development before donating, explaining that he forgot the amount that would be around $1,000.

I’m not rich, if I give money it means that I really believe in it, that I’ve done my research and I’m sure that while I donate it’s something I’m proud to be associated withIndicates a person who has already made donations to support a campaign Donald Trump The Republican Party of the United States.

But not only, he defends himself, claiming that he also gave money for causes advocated by the Democratic Party or for the environment.

When I invest myself in something, with my time or money, I don’t wear a hat or a flag. I am involved in the things that support interpersonal love, honor, kindness, and respect. […] I have always supported causes that I believe are just, no matter who is defending them.

legal vacuumAccording to an elected member of the bloc

Funding for the truck drivers’ demonstration raises many questions, according to the deputy chair of the Standing Committee on Public and National Security, Christina Michaud, an MP from the Quebecoa bloc.

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Maybe our Canadian law doesn’t adapt to virtual reality? I also see all forms of finance in cryptocurrency […] Do our laws adapt to this? I’m not sure. Should we reopen all of that or extend the powers of the organizations looking into it? These are questions to which we do not have answers and that is precisely the purpose of the study. [que nous menons au comité] To go and find out what to do.

MP Christina Michaud, during question period in the House of Commons, March 9, 2020.

Christina Michoud Block Quebecwa (archive)

Pictured: Bernard Thibodeau

Duff Conacher, co-founder of Democracy Watch, warns against the temptation of wanting to act too fast by banning foreign funding of crowdfunding campaigns being run in Canada.

It’s hard to decide that interest groups here in Canada can’t receive international money, because they do a lot of good things with that money.he thinks.

He adds that some legislative changes could be made.

Certainly we must change the lobbying law so that lobbyists are obligated to disclose national and international funds and sources of funds.

representatives GoFundMe As founding partners of GiveSendGo Indicate that they will be subject to any changes that may be made to Canadian legislation.

We will be ready to cooperate and our internal policies will be adapted to meet new requirementsMiss confirmed. Wilford.

We will do everything the law requires of us to keep our platform viable and to continue our activities with Canadians or anywhere else in the world.Mr. agreed Wells.

With information from Claudine Richard and CBC News

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