Conservatives Vent Fury as GoFundMe Cancels Canadian Truckers' Fundraiser

Conservatives have reacted with fury after GoFundMe canceled a fundraiser for Canadian truckers protesting against a COVID-19 vaccine mandate and said it would refund all contributions.

The fundraising effort had raised C$10 million—around $7.9 million—and C$1 million had already been distributed to the organizers of the so-called Freedom Convoy before GoFundMe took the decision to stop the fundraiser.

Truckers have been engaged in a protest in downtown Ottawa for almost a week arguing against vaccine mandates, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calling for them to go home but ruling out deploying the army to remove them.

GoFundMe initially announced on Friday it would refund contributions to anyone who applied and the remaining funds would be distributed to charities chosen by the Freedom Convoy organizers and verified by the crowdfunding site.

However, GoFundMe later issued an update, citing "donor feedback."

"We will automatically refund all contributions directly: donors do not need to submit a request," GoFundMe said.

A slew of conservative figures on Twitter reacted with outrage to GoFundMe's decision, with some even suggesting that the company face investigation.

Ezra Levant, publisher of Canadian right-wing news site Rebel News, tweeted: "At the request of Trudeau, @GoFundMe has just stolen $9,000,000 from the truckers. Rather than automatically refunding it to the donors, they say they're going to give it to groups of their own choosing. What a windfall for Black Lives Matter, Greenpeace and Planned Parenthood!"

Clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson retweeted Levant, commenting: "This is far worse than mere theft. Government-sanctioned appropriation from citizens funding lawful opposition. This sets a very very dark precedent."

Peterson also tagged GoFundMe and the prime minister's official Twitter account.

However, it is not clear that Prime Minister Trudeau played any role in GoFundMe's decision. The Canadian House of Commons' committee on public safety voted unanimously on Thursday to call GoFundMe to testify about the Freedom Convoy's fundraiser.

The committee is seeking information about what measures GoFundMe has in place to "ensure the funds are not being used to promote extremism, white supremacy, anti-Semitism and other forms of hate, which have been expressed among prominent organizers for the truck convoy currently in Ottawa."

Donald Trump Jr., former President Donald Trump's eldest son, sent a series of tweets and retweets about the matter and called for U.S. state attorneys general to investigate.

"All GOP Attorney Generals should be looking at this & helping to get people their $$$ back so it can be redirected to the truckers," Trump Jr. wrote. "Don't let @gofundme scam you... call your AGs & let them know. GFM seems to have no problem finding BLM riots... peaceful truckers should be fine too."

He wasn't alone in suggesting investigations. Tom Fitton, president of conservative activist group Judicial Watch, tweeted: "State attorney generals and other relevant state officials should examine @GoFundMe's $9 million shell game that victimized the Canadian truckers and their supporters who gave money in good faith."

CJ Pearson, CEO of Right or Die—a business that sells conservative-themed apparel—tweeted: "I'm reaching out to every Republican Attorney General in America that I know and encouraging them to open a consumer protection investigation into the actions of GoFundMe."

Maxime Bernier, leader of the right-wing People's Party of Canada, wrote: "This is outright embezzlement on the part of @gofundme. They're thieves. And Trudeau is an accomplice."

Brigitte Gabriel, founder and chairman of ACT for America, simply tweeted: "Don't use Go Fund Me. They're communists."

In explaining its decision to end the fundraiser, GoFundMe said it supported peaceful protest and cited "evidence from law enforcement that the previously peaceful demonstration has become an occupation, with police reports of violence and other unlawful activity."

The crowdsourcing site aid that the fundraiser was now in violation of its terms of service. The protest is expected to continue today, and could spread to other Canadian cities.

Newsweek has asked GoFundMe for comment.

Trucks Parked in Downtown Ottawa
Trucks parked in downtown Ottawa continue to protest Covid-19 vaccine mandates and restrictions, on February 4, 2022 in Ottawa, Canada. Conservatives have reacted with anger after GoFundMe ended a fundraiser for the protest. Dave Chan / AFP/Getty Images