It’s generally easy to see the appeal of private peer-to-peer transactions. Perhaps there’s no better example of the need for blockchain’s decentralized facilitation and documentation than in the ongoing saga of the Canadian trucker protest in Ottawa. For those of you living under a rock, Canada issued a Covid-19 vaccine mandate for many workers, including truckers. The mandate negatively impacts thousands of drivers who choose to remain unvaccinated since they cannot cross the border back into their country after making deliveries in the USA.
These truckers need to do business over the border to survive, so unvaccinated drivers eventually risk losing their livelihood. In response to these restrictions, Canadian truckers organized a caravan from around Canada to converge in mass into their capital city, creating blocked roadways around their capitol building, extending to nearby roads and the border bridge from Detroit into Windsor, Canada. The roster of protestors includes from 50K to 200k truckers (depending on the source you reference.)
The Canadian federal government tried several methods to stop the protest, including threats of legal action, towing, and loss of licenses. Supporting these truckers with financial help, supplies, or even horn-honking by Canadians has been deemed criminal activity. Canadian police have engaged in harassment of citizen supporters and even taking fuel and other necessities from truckers and their families living outside for days in below-freezing weather.
To help pay for living expenses, legal fees and other needs for these truckers, supporters formed the Truckers Endowment Fund, which immediately raised over $9 million through GoFundMe. Shortly after, GoFundMe, possibly due to government pressure, announced they would withhold the funds from the truckers’ organizers, intending to donate the cash to other charities instead. After the outcry from donors that GoFundMe was, in fact, “stealing” millions of their dollars, the company relented with promises to refund the money back to the donors. (Each donor will be expected to initiate each personal refund request, which means some portion of the total will never be refunded.) Soon after, another $8 million in protestors’ support were donated via another crowd-funding company, GiveSendGo. This prompted the Canadian government to directly intervene, leading to a federal judge freezing the funds before GiveSendGo could distribute them to the truckers. This presented a problem: Donating fiat money based on centralized banking and transactions allows control of donations by 3rd parties and the government.
Bitcoin to the Rescue
Most cryptocurrency users could have predicted what would happen next. To avoid government and 3rd party interference, the fundraisers accepted Bitcoin donations instead of depending on fiat currency. This allowed donors to directly send cryptocurrency to the Truckers Endowment, exploiting basic characteristics of blockchain, which facilitates immediate transactions without identifying data while making direct donations with no intermediary. This not only gets the money to the recipient quickly but prevents confiscation, retribution, or criminal charges threatened towards the unidentified donors. As of this writing, approximately 15 BTC has been donated in total, with the possibility of delivering $1 million and more to the cause just this week. The current goal challenge is 21 BTC, all of which will be out of reach to any 3rd party or government.
Canadian Government Response to Bitcoin Donations
The bottom line is that while there’s no way to prevent peer-to-peer transactions from happening or directly identifying donors, the Canadian Federal police have employed an interesting countermeasure to the Bitcoin support being raised. They’ve compiled a list of Bitcoin addresses that have transacted BTC up to $1 million worth and are suspected of contributing to the “Freedom Convoy.” The authorities have instructed Canadian Bitcoin exchanges to refuse transactions attempted by these addresses to donors or truckers from converting Bitcoin into Canadian dollars. Authorities intend to make it difficult for the truckers to utilize the gathered funds in a timely or useful way. Many in the industry challenge the legality of interfering in the peaceful support efforts of a free people. Some speculate that Canadian Bitcoin recipients might simply connect to exchanges outside of Canada ad convert Bitcoin to US dollars or other currency, then back to Canadian dollars via cash. Regardless, this scenario creates a testing laboratory of the resiliency of the blockchain model. This is an important moment in global crypto history, regardless of the outcome.
As this scenario plays out, the crypto community should pay close attention to how this people vs. government scenario plays out. This fundraiser could validate the potential power of blockchain and cryptocurrency. Aponte Crypto Consultants can help you consider various crypto solutions and additions to your digital portfolio. Contact us today for more information.