US right financed part of the protests in Canada

The Canadians who cut off trade with the United States and occupied downtown Ottawa for nearly three weeks have been hailed and financed by activists on the American right and conservative politicians, who also oppose vaccination mandates and President Joe Biden, a democrat.

However, whatever the impact of the protests on Canadian society and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, experts say the outside support is really meant to inject energy into conservative politics in the United States.

With the US presidential midterm elections approaching, some Republicans believe supporting protesters in their northern neighbor will boost fundraising and voter turnout at home, they add.

“The kinds of narratives that the truckers and the trucker convoy are focusing on are going to be really big issues for the upcoming (U.S.) election,” said Samantha Bradshaw, a postdoctoral fellow at the Digital Civil Society Lab. of Civil Society) from Stanford University.

“So using this protest as an opportunity to push their own supporters and other groups, I think it’s a great opportunity for them,” he added.

By Wednesday afternoon, all previously blocked border crossings had reopened, and police began to focus on pressuring truckers and other protesters in Ottawa to leave the capital city or face arrests, fines and confiscation of their vehicles. .

About 44% of the nearly $10 million in donations to a campaign supporting protesters came from US donors, according to an Associated Press analysis of leaked files.

Several Republican officials in the United States, including Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, praised the Canadian protesters, calling them “heroes” and “patriots.”

Sean Hannity, a Fox News host, told two protest organizers on his Wednesday show: “You have a lot of support from your friends in America. That I can assure you”. He added: “We have a movement in the United States that is starting very soon.”

Earlier in the week, Canada’s Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair had a very different take: “What this country is facing is a largely foreign-funded and coordinated attack on critical infrastructure.” and our democratic institutions.

Protesters in Ottawa have been regularly supplied with fuel and food, and the area around Parliament Hill at times looks more like a carnival, with bouncy castles, gyms, a children’s play area and a concert stage with disc jockeys.

GiveSendGo, a website used to collect donations for Canadian protests, has raised at least $9.58 million, including $4.2 million that originated in the United States, or 44%, according to a database of donor information published online by DDoSecrets, a non-profit organization.

However, the Canadian government has been working to block protesters’ access to these funds and it is unclear how much of the money ultimately made it into their hands.

Millions of dollars raised through another fundraising site, GoFundMe, were blocked after Canadian authorities complained to the company, which determined that the campaign violated its terms of service in relation to activities deemed illegal.

The GiveSendGo database analyzed by the AP showed a count of more than 109,000 donations as of Friday night to campaigns in support of the protests, with just under 62,000 coming from the United States.

GiveSendGo data identified several Americans who donated thousands or tens of thousands of dollars to protests in Canada. The largest single donation was $90,000 and came from a person who identified himself as Thomas M. Siebel.

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Siebel, the billionaire founder of the software company Siebel Systems, did not immediately respond to messages sent by the AP to an email associated with a foundation he runs and to his LinkedIn account.

A representative of the Siebel Scholars Foundation, who signed only as Jennifer, did not respond to questions about whether the billionaire had donated the money. However, she confirmed that Siebel has a history of supporting various causes, such as efforts to “protect individual liberty.”

“These are personal initiatives and have nothing to do with the companies you are associated with,” he wrote.

Siebel has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republican organizations and candidates over the past 20 years, according to US Federal Election Commission (FEC) records, including a $400,000 contribution in 2019 to a GOP fundraising committee called “Take Back the House 2020.”

The GiveSendGo Freedom Convoy campaign was created on January 27 by Tamara Lich. She previously belonged to the far-right Maverick Party, which calls for Western Canada to become independent.

The Canadian government took steps earlier this week to cut off funding for protesters, expanding the scope of the country’s anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing regulations to also cover crowdfunding platforms such as GiveSendGo. .

“We are making these changes because we know that these platforms are being used to support blockades and illegal activities, which is hurting the Canadian economy,” Canadian Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland warned.

Perhaps more important than the financial sponsorship is the backing the Canadian protesters have received from leading politicians and conservative American pundits, who see kindred spirits in their neighbors to the north who oppose mandatory vaccination mandates.

The same day that Lich created the GiveSendGo campaign, retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn shared a video of the convoy in a post on the Telegram app.

“These truckers are fighting back against nonsense and tyranny, especially from the Canadian government,” wrote Flynn, a former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency who briefly served as national security adviser to former President Donald Trump.

A few days later, Flynn urged people to donate to the Canadian protesters. Earlier this week, he twice posted “#TrudeauTheCoward” on Telegram, referring to the prime minister, who also heads the Liberal Party of Canada, as a “coward.”

Fox News anchors regularly praise the protests, and Trump chimed in with a broadside against Trudeau, calling him a “far-left lunatic” who has “destroyed Canada with crazy COVID mandates.” Cruz called the truckers “heroes” and “patriots,” and Greene said she doesn’t want to wait any longer to see a similar protest in Washington.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, expressed hope that truckers would come to the United States and “clog up cities,” according to an interview last week with the Daily Signal, a news website of the conservative organization Heritage Foundation.

Far-right and anti-vaccine activists, inspired by Canadian actions, are now planning US versions of protests against COVID-19 mandates and restrictions inspired by Canadian demonstrations.

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