Truckers Protesting COVID Rules Has GoFundMe Halted After Millions Raised

GoFundMe on Wednesday suspended a fundraising campaign for the "Freedom Convoy" of truckers who have traveled across Canada to protest COVID-19 restrictions.

The demonstration is led by commercial truck drivers in response to Canada's new mandate that went into effect on January 15 that requires truckers crossing the U.S.-Canada border to be fully vaccinated. The protests have wreaked havoc in Ottawa and around the country, and it has since expanded to include public opposition to all pandemic rules as well as government officials.

The "Freedom Convoy 2022" campaign raised more than 10 million Canadian dollars in crowd-sourced donations before GoFundMe flagged the account for review and suspended access to the money on Wednesday.

Protester Hotel COVID Mask Mandate Video
Supporters arrive at Parliament Hill for the Freedom Truck Convoy to protest against COVID-19 vaccine mandates and restrictions in Ottawa on January 29. Lars Hagberg/AFP

"This fundraiser is currently paused and under review to ensure it complies with our terms of service and applicable laws and regulations," a post from GoFundMe reads at the top of the fundraiser's page. "Our team is working 24/7 and doing all we can to protect both organizers and donors. Thank you for your patience."

Wednesday's action against the fundraiser marks the second time GoFundMe has suspended access to the money that was raised. CTV reported the company froze the campaign's funds in mid-January when CAD $4.5 million was raised because it sought details on how the funds would be used.

On Monday, GoFundMe confirmed "Freedom Convoy 2022" was the second-largest Canadian campaign ever on the site when it had reached more than $9.5 million. In a statement, GoFundMe said the only fundraiser more successful in the country was one from the Humboldt Broncos hockey team, which raised CAD $15.2 million raised following a fatal highway crash in 2018.

The "Freedom Convoy 2022" GoFundMe page says that money it raises "will be dispersed to our Truckers to aid them with the cost of the journey." It added that "[f]unds will be spent to help cover the cost of fuel for our Truckers first and foremost, will be used to assist with food if needed and contribute to shelter if needed."

Any money left over from donations will be given to "a credible Veterans organization which will be chosen by the donors," the page states.

On Wednesday, before the fundraiser was suspended, city councilor and chair of the Ottawa Police Services Board Diane Deans said that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson should contact GoFundMe and tell them to not distributed the money raised to the protesters.

"They're funding these mercenaries and that funding stream needs to get cut off," Deans said.

When contacted for comment, GoFundMe directed Newsweek to official statement it posted on Medium about the matter.

"As the activity surrounding the protest evolves, we have been monitoring the fundraiser to ensure the funds are going to the intended recipients and that the fundraiser remains within our Terms of Service," the statement read, in part. "Our monitoring includes maintaining close communication with the organizer as well as collaborating with local law enforcement. This process takes time and may slow down the withdrawal process."

Update 02/02/22 12:47 p.m. ET: This story has been updated to include portions of a statement from GoFundMe which was obtained after the story was originally published.