By Ian Miles Chong - January 31, 2022
Ottawa City Councillor Mathieu Fleury wants to seize the protesting truckers’ GoFundMe support account, which has raised upwards of $9 million, to cover the costs of policing the city — among other costs.
Fleury, who represents the city’s Rideau-Vanier Ward, publicly announced on social media that he asked the city manager and city solicitor to “immediately launch court proceedings targeting the millions of dollars in funds frozen by [GoFundMe] so Ottawa taxpayers are not left holding the bag for these protests.”
“I want to voice my support for the notion of City initiating actions against the GoFundMe funds to cover City expenses from incidents from the protests,” wrote Fleury in his email.
In addition to paying for policing costs, Fleury suggested that the money could also go towards promoting Ottawa and to pay for a PR campaign directed at the city’s downtown residents.
“Police costs, businesses and residents for clean-up, promotion for our city, and messaging to downtown residents, and funds for local groups who were victimized over the weekend,” he added in brackets, clarifying what he wanted the city to seize the truckers’ funds for.
“Please advise on actions we can and will take,” wrote Fleury, who has since made his Twitter account private after being barraged with hundreds of responses.
The truckers’ GoFundMe page has only grown since the convoy left Vancouver. It has collected more than $9 million in donations since then, with the funds being allotted to cover the price of gas, lodging, and food.
The cost of policing the event was estimated to reach as high as $800,000 per day, according to the Ottawa Police Service. While noting the costs, the police said on Sunday that the organization has avoided ticketing and towing vehicles “so as not to instigate confrontations with demonstrators.”
"Police have avoided ticketing and towing vehicle[s] so as not to instigate confrontations with demonstrators. Still, confrontations and the need for de-escalation has regularly been required," the department stated, as previously reported by the Counter Signal.
The “Freedom Convoy,” which was originally set up to oppose the federal government’s vaccine mandate for cross-border truck drivers and has since evolved into a broader protest against mandates and draconian pandemic restrictions, has drawn opposition from local politicians in Ottawa.
Aside from Fleury, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson voiced his anger at the protesters.
"Quite frankly, [residents] feel they're prisoners in their own home. And so my hope is that at some point, the police reach the conclusion that it's time to have a serious discussion about moving these people on," Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said in an interview with the CBC. "You have the right to protest, you've had your protest, please move on. Our city has to get back in normal stead."