Saturday, May 21, 2022

Critics called for new rules for online fundraising after Convoy took anonymous donations after protests. CBC News

Critics have called on the federal government to introduce new rules for online fundraising campaigns, after protests against vaccine mandates in Ottawa this weekend raised millions of dollars — including those using anonymous donors and fictitious names. From.

Green Party parliamentary leader Elizabeth May said the GoFundMe fundraiser for the protest convoy raises concerns about whether such campaigns were used by big businesses or foreign state actors to circumvent Canada’s political funding rules. can go.

“If this is not worrisome, it certainly highlights a possibility that is very worrying, which is that you may not be a political organization, not registered with Election Canada, but the right kind of dog. Find the whistle and run a GoFundMe campaign,” she said.

May said she has noticed that the GoFundMe campaign has raised money for worthy causes, but Canadian laws have not kept up with advances in technology.

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“Regulating the online world is something[where]we are constantly playing catch-up and it highlights an area that we should be looking at,” she said.

May said online fundraising campaigns should be required to register with Industry Canada to protect consumers. He said the names of donors should be available to government officials, even if they are not published on the website.

Follow the money: May

May said a consumer protection authority can see whether donations collected online go to their intended purpose.

“You want someone to verify that the story is true and that it’s not just taking all the money from well-intentioned and generous people and going on a cruise around the world,” she said.

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The GoFundMe campaign for the protest convoy has raised more than $7.4 million since January 14 from more than 94,000 donors.

An analysis by CBC News of donations made since Monday found that while thousands of donations were made by average Canadians or Canadian businesses, more than a third of donations were anonymous or were made under aliases — other people’s names or ” Invented titles like “Justin Trudeau” or “Dump Trudeau.”

Many other donations seem to have come from overseas. In the comments section of the donation page, some donors said they were sending support from overseas, including the United States, the UK, Australia and Poland.

Vehicles taking part in a cross-country convoy protesting measures taken by authorities to prevent the spread of COVID-19 park on Wellington Street in front of Parliament Hill, Friday, January 28, 2022, in Ottawa. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

GoFundMe says it is a violation of its Terms of Service for a donor to misrepresent their identity. The company has yet to respond to questions from CBC News about the fake names it used to donate to the convoy fundraiser.

A fundraiser organizer has yet to respond to CBC News’ requests for an interview.

Earlier this week, NDP MP Charlie Angus said people donating to political protests should not be allowed to hide behind anonymity, calling for an end to COVID-19 measures.

Jean-Sébastien Comu is the spokesman for Infrastructure Minister Dominique LeBlanc, whose responsibilities include election reform and political funding regulations. He said the convoy headed to Ottawa does not speak for Canadians or the trucking industry.

“Canadians should take precautions before donating for political or other reasons to ensure that the money will serve the intended purpose,” he said. “Peaceful protest is an essential part of our democracy, but there is no room for acrimonious or violent rhetoric.”

Critics called for new rules for online fundraising after Convoy took anonymous donations after protests. CBC News
Trucks participating in a cross-country convoy protest measures taken by authorities to prevent the spread of COVID-19 park on Wellington Street in front of Parliament Hill, Friday, January 28, 2022 in Ottawa. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

When asked whether new rules should be introduced for anonymous contributions to online fundraisers for political reasons, Comu declined to answer.

The Conservative Party declined to comment.

Democracy Watch co-founder Duff Konacher said anonymous donations for political reasons are worrying.

“Anonymous donations are a problem for citizen advocacy groups because they can come from a corporation, large business or other organization and this makes the citizen group a front for that business or other organization,” he said. “Voters have a right to know whether a business or other organization is actually controlling a group that claims to be citizen-backed.”

Conacher said GoFundMe campaigns for political campaigns must be registered under the Lobbying Act and the source of the funding must be disclosed in the lobbyist registry. He said he also wants to see that the Elections Act be reviewed and the issue examined by the House of Commons ethics committee.

“We need to know who is controlling every lobby effort or advocacy initiative of any kind, whether for protest or traditional means of lobbying,” he said.

Elizabeth Thompson from elizabeth.thompson@cbc.ca. can be reached

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