Feb 9, 2022 - Health

Republican lawmakers target GoFundMe over Canadian COVID mandate protests

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference CPAC on July 11, 2021 in Dallas, Texas. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Several Republican lawmakers have expressed support for ongoing protests in Canada against COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other pandemic restrictions, and are targeting GoFundMe for removing a fundraiser benefiting the protesters.

Why it matters: Protests in Canada's capital, Ottawa, have continued for thirteen days, with the police chief declaring the city is "under siege" and prompting Mayor Jim Watson to declare a state of emergency. The protesters also shut down the Ambassador Bridge, one of the busiest crossings between Canada and the U.S.

  • The protests have also spread to other provinces.

Canadian officials have cautioned against "potential foreign interference" as more U.S. lawmakers have weighed in.

The big picture: GoFundMe removed a fundraiser for the anti-vaccination mandate protest saying it violated its terms of service.

  • On Wednesday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced an investigation into GoFundMe for removing the fundraiser.
  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission on Sunday asking for an investigation into GoFundMe’s practices while accusing the platform of having a history of “penalizing and removing fundraisers for conservative causes," Axios' Hope King and Sara Fischer write.
  • "It is a fraud for @gofundme to commandeer $9M in donations sent to support truckers and give it to causes of their own choosing," Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) tweeted Saturday, vowing to work with Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody "to investigate these deceptive practices — these donors should be given a refund."
  • On Friday, former President Donald Trump released a statement calling Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a "far left lunatic," before adding that he had "destroyed Canada with insane Covid mandates."

What they're saying: “GoFundMe’s response to an anti-mandate, pro-liberty movement should ring alarm bells to anyone using the donation platform and, more broadly, any American wanting to protect their constitutional rights,” Paxton said in the press release.

  • “The efforts of government officials to suppress peaceful protest … is an abuse of power,” Cruz told Politico Tuesday. “That abuse of power was compounded when GoFundMe at the explicit behest of the Canadian government tried to effectively steal $10 million that had been raised to support the Canadian truckers.”

Marco Mendicino, Canada’s public safety minister said Monday that “It is certainly not the concern of the Texas attorney general as to how we in Canada go about our daily lives in accordance with the rule of law," the Washington Post reported.

  • “We need to be vigilant about potential foreign interference…Whatever statements may have been made by some foreign official are neither here nor there,” Mendicino added.
  • "Individuals are trying to blockade our economy, our democracy, and our fellow citizens’ daily lives. It has to stop," Trudeau said in a speech to the House of Commons Monday.

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