Great journalism takes time and money.
As the defeated ex-president Donald Trump threw his weight behind the Ottawa protest for a second time, lashing out at GoFundMe for suspending payments to organizers of the $10-million “Freedom Convoy 2022,” remember this ...
His former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, is currently under indictment for wire fraud and money laundering over his $32 million “Build The Wall” GoFundMe campaign.
Donald Trump is endorsing the Ottawa convoy, calling Justin Trudeau a “far left lunatic who has destroyed Canada,” and backing an attempt to bring a similar truck protest to DC.
That campaign, one of the largest in GoFundMe history, was, as they say, cancelled.
So if you think there’s something extremely fishy about the GoFundMe “Freedom” campaign, you’re onto something.
This campaign is extremely suspect.
I’ve spent almost 30 years involved with, studying and writing about the Canadian non-profit and charitable sector. Not only is the interference by Trump and his flunkies unprecedented, the campaign’s donation pattern is wholly unreliable.
To any knowledgeable observer just looking at the data itself, the irregularities are a five-alarm fire.
The convoy campaign, organized by a previously obscure Canadian group, now ranks as the eighth-largest in GoFundMe’s 12-year history. It joins the pantheon of fundraisers supporting the family of George Floyd, victims of the Parkland (Marjory Stoneman Douglas) and Pulse shootings, Time’s Up (related to #MeToo) and major American COVID-19 relief projects.
"The irregularities of this campaign are a five-alarm fire," writes @garossino for @natobserver about the #GoFundMe campaign to raise money for the #Ottawa #trucker protest. #cdnpoli
At the time of its suspension, the convoy campaign had racked up approximately $10.1 million in just over two weeks.
Any Canadian fundraiser will tell you this number is impossible to achieve organically within Canada. This group is not a registered charity, non-profit or even a trucking organization. Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly is on record saying there is significant influence and money pouring in from the United States.
GoFundMe did not independently verify donor identities and accepted foreign funds for a campaign that had as one objective the dissolution of Parliament — just months after a free and fair election, in which 60 per cent of the electorate voted for parties supporting vaccine mandates.
As the CBC has reported on January 28, at least a third of the donor identities were anonymous or faked. Donations were made in the names of Justin Trudeau and Theresa Tam.
Indeed, one fake donation was made in the name of this publication’s columnist, Max Fawcett. There are certain to be many more. These are just the identities that can be verified as fake.
For more direct Canadian context, the 2018 fund for the Humboldt Broncos also ranks in the top 10. That effort raised $15 million from 142,000 donors in 80 countries, reflecting broad international support for the bereaved families.
And the false identities are not the only abnormality. Most of the top 10 campaigns fall under two categories: American COVID relief efforts or victim support for traumatic violent events of national scale, such as the Humboldt accident, George Floyd’s murder or the Parkland, Las Vegas and Pulse Nightclub shootings.
In cases where there has been a political facet to a successful campaign, it has been of vastly higher profile, with established organizational capacity and public participation on a mass scale.
The Time’s Up campaign was linked to the #MeToo movement and the 2017 Women’s March, which attracted three to five million marchers across the U.S. An estimated 15 million to 26 million Americans marched in support of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter. The March For Our Lives, organized by student survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting in Parkland, Fla., attracted an estimated 1.2 million to two million marchers. The Pulse Nightclub shooting inspired massive recognition and is memorialized at Pride parades, which attract millions of participants annually across the United States and Canada.
Indeed, the advance billing of the protest was impressive, as when former NHL legend Theo Fleury told Fox News that 50,000 trucks and 1.4 million Canadians would participate in the rally.
By comparison, police estimates put the Ottawa convoy demonstration somewhat lower, at between 8,000 and 15,000, with just a few hundred commercial haulers.
By mid-week, fewer than 300 demonstrators remained on the ground.
On Friday a lawsuit against the “Freedom Convoy” was filed by Ottawa citizens seeking damages for emotional distress caused by the incessant noise of truck horns. Tellingly, a mere sixty trucks parked in the protest area are named in the suit.
Which may explain the necessity of constant noise and stunts to keep media from noticing how few Canadians are actually involved.
This is not George Floyd, the Parkland school shooting, or the Women’s March.
For all the Sturm und Drang, the convoy is an extraordinarily weak national turnout in a country where 500,000 showed up to a climate march in Montreal. Or even 60,000 to a marijuana celebration in Vancouver. Absent the trucks, which are really just big, noisy props, it was essentially a national anti-vax rally, which has now turned so dangerous that police are afraid to break it up.
The low turnout is even more surprising in the midst of massive American promotion by those in the Trump orbit, Fox News, Donald Trump Jr., Tucker Carlson, Mike Flynn, Joe Rogan and many others. It’s been relentlessly promoted on social media by, among others, Rebel Media and Pizzagate alumnus Jack Posobiec. With his 1.6 million followers, Posobiec, the Roger Stone acolyte, is widely regarded as the voice of Trump’s id.
With all this in mind, this exercise has the hallmarks of an op, complete with the potential for wire fraud and money laundering, and possibly a dry run for an American uprising.
Given the convoy project’s stated objective of overturning the results of a free and fair election through the dissolution of Parliament, a thorough investigation of the GoFundMe campaign is now a matter of urgent national security importance.
The time for answers and accountability is right now.
Editor’s note: At the time of publication, GoFundMe issued a statement saying:
“Organizers provided a clear distribution plan for the initial $1M that was released earlier this week and confirmed funds would be used only for participants who travelled to Ottawa to participate in a peaceful protest. Given how this situation has evolved, no further funds will be directly distributed to the Freedom Convoy organizers — we will work with organizers to send all remaining funds to credible and established charities verified by GoFundMe.”
A potential class-action lawsuit, filed Friday on behalf of downtown Ottawa residents, is also seeking $9.8 million in damages from convoy organizers over continuous vehicle horn noise from the protests.