Use the Magnitsky Act on Justin Trudeau, his cabinet, and the big five banks.
Russia isn't the only country with human rights abusers
follow me on Twitter: @FromKulak
Over the past week Justin Trudeau and his liberal cabinent have evoked Emergency powers so as to crush the peaceful Freedom Convoy demonstrators and confiscate their bank accounts without any court orders.
These are demonstrators who after agreeing to Leave their ambassador bridge protest hugged the Police officers who saw them off and had broken up the remainder of the border protests without incident before the emergencies act even took effect, and even after this weekend which saw Officers trample a elderly disabled indigenous woman under horse, and after police had beaten protestors, and seemingly purposefully fired teargas canisters into the legs of attending reporters, The protestors still joined in chants of “We love you” directed at the cops in an attempt to deescalate and appeal to their better nature.
An attempt met repeatedly with flash-bangs and rubber bullets.
Many Canadians and Americans have wondered what they can do to resist the seeming death of protest rights in Canada. What can you do when the banks themselves are confiscating perfectly legal donations to peaceful protests and legal defence funds? What can you do when voicing your opinion or merely having made a legal donation can be declared retroactively illegal and you can have your bank account frozen as a result, without even a court order?
The Magnitsky Act was designed to allow the US government more options in dealing with human rights abuses and the silencing of opposition by abusive regimes, by allowing the US government to sanction individual government figures and politically connected individuals directly. Freezing their bank accounts, locking them out of international finance, barring their entry to the US and preventing US firms from doing business with them.
The Magnitsky act was criticized at the time: Why these human rights abuses? Why target Russia? Saudi Arabia keeps 51% percent of its population in a state of apartheid, unable to work, leave the country, or even show their face with out a husband’s permission... why focus on a country which has been considered for admission to NATO, and as recently as the early 2000s the US recognized as democratic?
There are of course plenty of cynical interpretations... but being charitable: the Magnitsky Act is not for the worst human rights abusers. Hardened dictatorships easily weather such sanctions and are well prepared with shell companies, hidden accounts, and other vehicles to evade such limited sanctions. The Magnitsky act was not passed in response to North Korea or the Chinese genocide of the Uighers. It was brought in for the comparatively minor abuse of Russian oligarchs murdering those investigating their corruption (allegedly), not because Russia was some totalitarian country in 2012, but because Russia was still arguably a democracy.
The Magnitsky act is not made for the worst human rights abusers, it is made for democracies that are sliding. The status of Democracy is not an award where you win it , and then like so many Oscar winning actors, you get to coast and make bad comedies for decades on end. Democracy is a standard of liberty and open debate that a country has to maintain every single day. The US was right to recognize that when someone is commiting criminal acts or abusing political connections to deprive people of their democratic rights, the democracies of the world should call that individual out and use what economic power they have to stop it.
Currently both the Government of Alberta and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association are suing Trudeau’s government, arguing that even the lax language of The Emergencies Act does not apply to the Freedom convoy protests. That the act explicitly forbids the declaration of an emergency for peaceful protests, and that the requirements that such an emergency threaten the lives and safety of Canadians, or the sovereignty of Canada was at no time met... the protests being peaceful, the only threat to life coming from police, and The protestors willing breaking up encampments in response to court orders.
Maybe to staid Canadian courts will act but observers can conclude what is obvious: this was an illegal power grab by Trudeau meant to retroactively declare legal donations and legal peaceful protests illegal, and to punish both Canadians, and Americans with canadian bank-accounts, by seizing their money without a court order, using information illegally hacked from an American company and distributed by state run media at the CBC, so as to punish dissidents for mere political disagreement. shutting them out of the financial system, unable to buy food or pay rent, in the depths of the Canadian winter.
And not a single Executive or Board member from a Canadian big 5 bank has spoken out about this or raised a legal challenge to this illegal violation of their customer’s liberty and property, which they themselves, the banks, are being asked to enforce. The positions of banker is a sacred trusts. Millions have trusted these people with their money on the basis of their presumed character and their strong institutional ethics, a banker should be happily willing to go to jail for years rather than betray his customers to an illegal order, and when he is being asked to do this without even a court order, we’d expect him to be screaming from the rooftops. Canadian bankers instead are gladly accepting the horrifying power Trudeau has given them, and see no problem with betraying decades long customers for the crime of donating to a charity or legal defence fund.
For this reason I believe the US government should Sanction the executives and board members of the big 5 Canadian banks: TD (Toronto Dominion), CIBC (Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce), Scotiabank, RBC (Royal Bank of Canada), and BMO (Bank of Montreal).
Similarly Trudeau and His cabinet should be sanctioned. Just as they have frozen Canadians assets for peaceful protests, the US should use the Magnitsky act to Freeze their assets for their abuses and bar them from US travel just as they had barred truckers from returning to their own country. Sparing of course back bencher Liberal MPs such as Joel Lighbound who have been horrified and vocal in opposition to their own party’s abuses, even before the emergencies act was declared.
Ironically deputy prime minister Crystia Freeland, was instrumental in the initial passing of the Magnitsky act, even having pages of hagiographic praise in Bill Browder's book about its passing, and Canada passed its own Magnitsky in 2015 on her influence. We can speculate whether she was a hypocrite then or now, but these are the standards she, and the government of Canada, agreed to be held to. There is no philosophical debate about whether its right or wrong for the US to interfere in Canada’s affairs, These are the same people who vehemently cheered on the US sanctioning Russians in 2012.
Like Tin pot dictators the world over, Trudeau and his cabinet have denounced the “American influence” behind the freedom convoy, denouncing Americans donating to legal defence funds and peaceful protests for Canadians civil liberties. A preferred attack being to accuse the protestors of being Trump supporters, Ie. to accuse them of of being sympathetic to the previous democratically elected president of Canada’s closest ally. With Justice minister David Lametti saying that Trump supporters “should be worried” about having their bank accounts frozen by the Canadian Government.
All this from a government that has nothing but praise for the World Economic Forum or OECD sending millions around the world to fund advocacy institutes in places as far a field as Hungary or Ukraine.
The free spread of ideas and donations for non-partisan, non-election related, advocacy and support across international borders is the backbone of any free and open society, whether it be Amnesty international or the Jesuits, philosophical and political advocacy of all kinds has been international since the 18th century. Crystia Freeland herself was a Canadian doing journalism and political advocacy for a US media company in Ukraine and spent decades in US politics, Trudeau himself consistently criticized President Trump and used Canadian tax dollars to fund media that was equally critical and presumably had some influence on US politics.
But now that ordinary Americans are expressing equal interest in Canadian politics Trudeau and perhaps the most internationally affiliated cabinet of any country in the world, that have spent collective centuries outside Canada and advocating politics in other countries, they want to retreat into nationalist chauvinism and issolationism... No.
Trudeau wants to freeze bank accounts for donating to a cause he merely accuses of supporting the previous elected American president, without a court order, he wants to freeze bank accounts quite possibly held by American Citizens or dual nationals, at Banks such as TD or Scotiabank, banks many ordinary Americans use, as his justice minister confirms that “Trump Supporters” quote “Should be worried”.
Trudeau doesn’t get to pretend this is something where Americans should mind their own business, this concerns Americans greatly.
Biden is has been prominently siding with Trudeau in this, but Americans should be calling on their Republican Governors, Senators, and congressmen, people like Ron Desantis, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and others who have been deeply critical of Trudeau to Openly demand the use of the Magnitsky Act.
In many respects its already happening to Americans, many of their donations are frozen, a Delaware based company has already been hacked and its donors leaked over this, and all to crush an international protest already planning convoys to Washington.
This isn’t an assault on democracy happening in America’s backyard, this is an assault happening in America’s doorway.
Follow me on Twitter: @FromKulak