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GiveSendGo to refund Freedom Convoy donors, claims Canada government trying to seize, redistribute millions


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GiveSendGo, the Christian crowdfunding platform that raised millions for Freedom Convoy protesters in Ottawa last month after GoFundMe canceled their campaign, announced on Thursday that it was forced to refund donations after a Canadian court order blocked the distribution to organizers and threatened to seize the cash. 

The platform said it was refunding donors because the Canadian government was trying to seize the funds. 

“The Canadian government has criminalized the receiving of funds from the Canadian trucker campaigns and now are trying to seize the funds to restribute,” GiveSendGo said in statement shared on Twitter. “In order to protect our Givers and the intended purpose of their gifts, funds not already transferred to the recipients from the ‘Freedom Tucker Convoy’ campaign will be refunded.” 

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The government of Ontario on Feb. 10 was granted its requested court order freezing access to millions of dollars of funds donated though GiveSendGo to benefit truckers and other demonstrators protesting vaccine mandates and other coronavirus-related restrictions on Ottawa’s Parliament Hill. 

Jacob Wells, the co-founder of the platform, told an Ontario Superior Judge on Wednesday that he would be refunding donors to campaigns supporting the truckers’ protest in Ottawa. 

Monique Jilesen, a lawyer for the class action lawsuit on behalf of affected Ottawa residents, and Melissa Adams, a lawyer from the Ontario Attorney General’s Office, both argued the proposed refund violated the court order freezing funds. The class-action lawsuit has been pushing for the unclaimed funds and cryptocurrency to go into escrow to possibly later be redistributed to Ottawa residents and businesses, Global News reported. 

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But Justice Calum MacLeod said the order was intended to target funds possessed by defendants, not undistributed funds on fundraising platforms. Several key organizers of the freedom convoy were arrested and released on bail after police cracked down on the demonstration last month. 

GiveSendGo was hacked as the demonstrations continued for weeks, and Wells previously told Fox News Digital he would be calling on the FBI to investigate who was responsible for the breach. 

In a letter addressed to Canadian Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien on Wednesday, Conservative Member of Parliament James Bezan pleaded for an investigation into the illegal hacking of the platform that resulted in tens of thousands of Canadians’ personal information being circulated online.  

“In some instances, Canadians have had unredacted images of their passports and driver’s licenses exposed and downloadable online,” Bezan said. “This blatant breach of privacy has resulted in ‘doxxing’ campaigns on social media, numerous media stories in national and international media.” 

“Canadians deserve answers, and to have their privacy respected,” he added. “That’s why Conservatives have written to the Privacy Commissioner to get them.” 

During a House of Commons Public Safety Committee hearing last week, Wells, testifying virtually, said that roughly 60% of the funds to campaigns meant to benefit the truckers’ protest in Ottawa came from donors inside Canada, whereas 37% originated from the United States. At the time, the Freedom Convoy campaign raised $12 million, but on Thursday it stood at around $16 million. GoFundMe President Juan Benitez, whose platform canceled the Freedom Convoy campaign at $10 million, testified that about 88% of donations had originated from Canada, contradicting claims of overwhelming foreign monetary support.  

“Feb. 2 through Feb. 4, we heard from local authorities that what had been begun as a peaceful protest shifted into something else,” Benitez said, according to National Post. “They shared reports of violence and threatening behavior by individuals associated with this movement.” 

Both Canadian MPs Pam Damoff and Sameer Zuberi criticized GIveSendGo for allowing campaigns for the Proud Boys, saying the Canadian government listed the Proud Boys as a terrorist organization in 2019. In actuality, the Canadian government did not list the Proud Boys as a terrorist organization until February 2021. GiveSendGo said that was done in response to the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot. 

“We listed them as a terrorist entity in 2019. The U.S. has not done that. You continue to fundraise for them. You continue to fundraise for groups that support Islamophobia, Anti-Semitism, Nazi sympathizers, White supremacists,” Damoff said during the hearing. “I’m just wondering how you can justify giving people like that a platform to raise funds?”  

“If we started mandating litmus tests for how good people ought to be in order to use public service, we would be in a very, very difficult situation,” Wells responded. 

Asked if he would allow a fundraiser for the Ku Klux Klan, Wells said, “if the fundraising activity was legal and it was legally authorized to happen, we would allow people to fundraise.” 

“We believe completely to the core of our being that the danger of the suppression of our speech is much more dangerous than the speech itself and this has been tested through history,” he said. 

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In response, Damoff chastised, “My brand of Christianity is different from yours if it includes hate.”  

GiveSendGo, which launched in 2014, permitted donations for Kyle Rittenhouse’s defense. The fundraiser allowed him to post $2 million bail after GoFundMe had blocked donations. GoFundMe lifted its ban on fundraisers for Rittenhouse following the teenager’s acquittal in November.

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