Following the Liberal government’s order to freeze the bank accounts of Freedom Convoy supporters, panicked credit union depositors withdrew millions of dollars from banks, executives disclosed on March 17.
“Many Canadians felt surprised the government had that authority,” said Martha Durdin, CEO of the Canadian Credit Union Association.
Blacklock’s Reporter said the Liberal government invoked the Emergencies Act The Department of Finance estimated between 206 and 210 accounts worth $ 7.8 million were frozen. The RCMP put its blacklist at 257 accounts worth an undetermined amount.
Angelina Mason, general counsel for the Canadian Bankers Association, tested at the finance committee while there were “anecdotal stories” of panicked withdrawals, they were “nothing of significance.”
However, this contradicted the testimony of Credit Union’s Durdin, who said millions were with drawn.
“In the early days there was some degree of panic among some Canadians that their accounts may be frozen,” Durdin testified at the House of Commons finance committee on March 17.
“In those important days, the government was less than clear about the intended targets of financial measures under the Emergencies Act”Said Durdin.“ Many of our members expressed this concern and many Canadians made significant withdrawals from credit unions as a result, sometimes in the hundreds of thousands and on a few occasions in the millions of dollars. ”
Durdin said while the withdrawals did not cause liquidity issues for credit unions, staff had to “manage many very unhappy members.” She added that depositors expressed astonishment the federal government had the power to unilaterally freeze bank accounts.
“I know credit unions had to really answer a lot of questions from members about under what circumstances the government can freeze accounts,” said Durdin. “Many Canadians felt surprised.”
According to Durdin, withdrawals from bank accounts far exceeded the actual number of accounts frozen by credit unions nationwide. “Our members froze a total of 10 accounts with a total value of less than half-a-million dollars,” she said.
Durdin said credit union managers did not choose what bank accounts to freeze, relying instead on a police blacklist. “They followed very closely the list provided by the RCMP,” she said.
“One credit union leader wrote to us:’We had a tremendous amount of members very seriously concerned regarding the government’s ability to seize accounts. It brought forward a large sense of mistrust with the government that they could seize individual accounts,’” said Durdin ..
The Emergencies Act orders lasted from February 14 to 23. Durdin said credit unions had no notice in the matter. “Credit unions represent almost half the financial sector in some provinces and millions of Canadian consumers,” said Durdin. “We need to be at the table. ”
Matthew Horwood is a parliamentary reporter for the Western Standard based in Ottawa