Trudeau Took a Page From Obama When He Froze Protesters' Bank Accounts

When governments can de-bank you, you are not really free.


Russia's invasion revealed big differences in how politicians deal with threats.

The president of Ukraine, when offered evacuation, said, "I need ammunition, not a ride." He's a leader.

By contrast, in Canada a few weeks before, when truckers staged a protest against COVID-19 rules, the cowardly Prime Minister Justin Trudeau felt so threatened by the peaceful protesters that he went to "a secret location." Then he invoked Canada's Emergencies Act.

That empowered authorities to forcibly break up the protest. In one instance, police rode into a crowd on horseback. People were trampled.

Nasty as that was, the part of the act that turned out most effective at stopping protest was freezing protesters' bank accounts.

That's similar to what the West is doing to Russian President Vladimir Putin now.

But Trudeau did it to his own people!

"You do have to have a bank account, really, to be able to live," says George Mason University law professor Todd Zywicki in my new video.

"Imagine if, during the Civil Rights era, Martin Luther King could have lost his bank account because he trespassed at a Woolworth's counter."

Of course, more people used cash then. Now we rely on banks and credit cards.

The easily frightened Trudeau justified his use of the Emergencies Act by saying the truckers received "disturbing amounts of foreign funding to destabilize Canada's democracy."

Really? The truckers were going to "destabilize Canada's democracy"?

"I don't know why you would say it's 'destabilizing democracy,'" says Zywicki. "This is democracy. Canadians trying to stand up for their rights."

Fortunately, such abuse of power doesn't happen in the United States.

Except it does.

In 2013, Zywicki reminds us, "Companies engaged in completely legal services found themselves losing access to bank accounts…being forced to shut down."

It happened because the Obama administration launched Operation Choke Point, which encouraged banks to choke off accounts of pornographers, gambling businesses, payday loan operators, gun dealers, and other businesses that they didn't like.

Gun dealer Kat O'Connor did everything the government demanded—filled out the paperwork, got federal and state licenses, paid hefty fees. But suddenly, online payment processors wouldn't deal with her. She then tried companies like Stripe, PayPal, and Square. "It always ended up with an email saying they were closing my accounts," she told me. She assumes the blacklisting was "a backdoor attempt at gun control."

It probably was.

Choke Point continued until Donald Trump was elected.

But O'Connor is still blacklisted. Once government labels you a problem, the bureaucrats may choke off your finances forever.

That's infuriating.

But part of my job is taking the other side. So, I said to Zywicki, banks are private businesses, lending their own money. Why should they lend to people they don't like? Private businesses can make whatever choices they choose.

Zywicki had a good answer: Banks are not really private businesses. "There are barriers to entry. You have to get permission to start a new bank.…The financial services industry is so intertwined with government."

That government connection means bureaucrats who regulate banks can silence government's critics by cutting off access to their money. In Canada, protesting truckers resisted pressure from police and politicians for weeks. But once Trudeau froze their money, that was the beginning of the end of their protest.

When governments can de-bank you, you are not really free.

"We need to tolerate people saying things we don't like and separate that from their ability to make a living," says Zywicki. "We've merged those two things. That's a very big threat to the free society."


NEXT: Ohio's Taxman Is Tailgating NASCAR

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. "When governments can de-bank you, you are not really free."

    We Koch / Reason libertarians have nothing to worry about. We're effectively on the same side as Big Finance and Big Tech — all of us want open borders and Democrats running the government — so de-banking and de-platforming will never happen to us.


    1. First they came for the conservatives, and that was cool. Totally stopping there, right?

      1. [JOIN NOW] I really make A LOT OF MONEY ($200-$300/hour) online from my laptop. Last month I received almost $50,000. this line work is simple and straightforward. You don’t need to go to the office, it’s online work from home. lop You become independent after joining this position. I really appreciate my friend.
        Who pointed it out to me SITE…..,

    2. Build your own banking industry, I think is the typical suggestion. Right after the left-leaning 'libertarian' paean 'private companies!'

  2. Keep chanting " Protecting Democracy" is just trying to justify your current power status. We are hopeful waking up to the fact that they are the last people to deserve power and control.

    1. Danger to democracy!
      Greedy capitalist!
      Foreign devil!

      Those seeking power always know what words to best rile up the rabble. And the rabble always knows how to respond.

      1. Fuck Joe Biden.

        1. That works, too.

        2. I’d rather not.

    2. But democracy is literally hanging by a thread if people don't do what they are told.

    3. HUMANS are the problem, unless you know some undiscovered human race that is honest and selfless there will never be a solution

  3. This is why weed need Bitcoin and other block-chain currencies, and CASH!!! Sad to say, Government Almighty can grab ANYTHING from you, if they take a shine to do so. The best we can do, is make it difficult for them!

    1. Neither of those actually solve or even mitigate the problem. Cash is increasingly less useful. It is 'legal tender' that many people and businesses don't accept any more.

      Likewise cryptocurrencies are not the panacea they are often portrayed as. Their value comes in their ability to be traded for useful currencies which is something very much in the government's sights and power to dominate. Aside from the limited options for using them directly rather than converting them if you're using them for anything you'd prefer to be kept anonymous then you've picked the wrong horse.

      The real solutions lie in curbing government power and limiting the public furvor promting them to use it.

      1. Don't forget the ongoing change shortage. Another attempt at stopping cash.

        1. And don't forget not printing any bill larger than 100 dollars.
          A hundred bucks was a significant amount of money in 1970. Now it's worth about what a 20 was then.

          They should bring back the 1000 dollar bill, to make it easier to transport and transact with cash.

        2. Change you can believe in?

      2. Curbing government power? That's crazy talk! And probably racism and sedition.

        1. Don't forget sexist. People who can't or won't perform manual labor have to have sinecures; education, hospitality and health care can only provide so many.

          1. And anti woke as well!

      3. Note about cash why does the government arrest anyone with more cash than they deem worthy of having. we read about it all the time someone traveling with a couple of thousand or more their money is often confiscated without charge. and of course now the IRS wants to monitor anyone who uses $600.00 in their account, heck most peoples monthly rent is more than that.

        1. By the next time I fly, the answer to "Why are you carrying more then $10,000 in US Currency" may be "I'll need to buy a whole tank of gas after I land."

      4. "Cash is increasingly less useful. It is 'legal tender' that many people and businesses don't accept any more."

        The US law on "legal tender" says US currency is legal tender for the payment of all debts.

        There is one very important limitation on this. Retail point of sale transactions are not debts. So, no, retail stores are not and never were legally obligated to accept cash.

    2. Fortunately, President Biden ordered the government yesterday to study the feasibility of an official USA cryptocurrency, and "related issues". I'm sure they would never abuse the power to disable specific digital dollars for political reasons in the future.

    3. But Gubmint cannot grab Bitcoin, only cash and property?

      1. I'll be honest and say I don't know for sure. Depends on how many lawyers and bribes (campaign contributions) you can afford?

        I do know that as soon as you buy something of value (Bitcoin having no value in and of itself) with your Bitcoin, Government Almighty can grab it!!!

        PS, Sevo told me that Sevo was MY bitch, dammit!!! I wouldn't cry if that slut got slapped around some, by somebody!!!

      2. Upon more deeply considering the matters at hand, here, I have concluded that as soon as you've slept with a hooker, Government Almighty can NOT make you UN-sleep with said hooker! Nor can Government Almighty wrest the residues of your nose candy out of your body, for ANY gain, after you've had your buzz!!!

        Conclusion: Any cash, bank account, or Bitcoin (etc.) that you can lay your hands on, should be IMMEDIATELY

        1. Butterfingers!!! ...should be IMMEDIATELY spent on cocaine and hookers! To safeguard your value from Government Almighty!!!

          Me? My "windfall cash stash" I spent immediately on cocaine and hookers; almost ALL of it! And the rest? I just WASTED it!!!

      3. Most people will not be able to conduct such complicated transactions now that central exchanges exist. I don't even know how to buy without a central exchange.

  4. That government connection means bureaucrats who regulate banks can silence government's critics by cutting off access to their money.

    And, in this manner, similarly coerce every nominally private entity or corporation that uses a bank to silence its customers, shareholders, and user base.

  5. "So, I said to Zywicki, banks are private businesses, lending their own money. Why should they lend to people they don't like? Private businesses can make whatever choices they choose."

    I wonder how Zywicki would feel about this version of his statement?

    "So, I said to Zywicki, bakeries are private businesses. Why should they have to make a wedding cake for people they don't like? Private businesses can make whatever choices they choose."

    1. If you do not approve of two men buttfucking, and are not willing to honor their buttfucking with your craft and skills, and never even considered the underlying merits of buttfucking in good faith before denying some buttfuckers the benefit of your entirely voluntarily services, you deserve to die.

      Think about it.

      How would you feel if two dudes that routinely fist and finger each other voraciously refused to make you a sandwich?

      1. Do they wear gloves when making sandwiches?

        1. The real question is, do they wear gloves when fisting each other?

          1. if they're making samwiches at Henk's European Deli & Black Forest Bakery, then probably.

            1. I hear they have the best truffle butter.

      2. Relieved?

    2. If the business sells fay cakes there is no issue. Custom work contracts often turn down work.

        1. Somehow "fay" sounds way gayer than "gay."

    3. Ate you really this stupid? The point is you CANNOT open a new bank without government permission and they can shut you down at any moment while anyone can open a bakery. One is a puppet of the State, the other is not.

      1. Colorado is actively suing bakers over social views. Same w washington. Government is regulating them. And banks have been slowly integrating social scores in lending. It isnt unregulated.

        1. Equity!

      2. you also can not open a bakery without government permission heck you can't even open a lemon aid stand without government permission

        1. To be fair, you probably want to make sure the lemons are, in fact, eligible to receive aid.

        2. OK wait—Isn’t there an “Anti-Lemon Law?”….Or something?

  6. Gee, it's kinda like all the WEF acolytes are pulling from the same playbook.

    It's almost like there's some shady cabal inserting its tendrils into every major government they can, and then all acting like totalitarians when they slither into office.

    But that's just crazy talk.

    1. some shady cabal

      Some well-funded cabal.

      1. Not wide spread shadiness

        1. My cabal fucks you; your cabal fucks me.

          1. They are all in it together.

    2. Careful, that kinda talk sets sqrlvo off

      1. You.

        Fuck off and die.

        1. Anyone who cites the atlantic as much as him is not a libertarian.

  7. yes

    banks have become utilities

    they don't care if you take your money out, and just like the electric, water, or gas company you live at their indulgence

    miracle of fiat currency has a cost, and bitcoin is not stable enough to be a medium of account

    everything that is happening to gun dealers or convoy truckers or perfectly innocent Russian citizens who don't even like Putin will soon be happening to Republicans, and then everyone else who dares criticize a Democrat

    Russia is the test case

    China is the model

    the ultimate target is you

    1. probably only separate republics can really address our needs at this point

      Texas or Florida are each more than large enough to have its own currency, particularly if other regional red states join their currency union

      and as we've seen Fed can't even guarantee stable inflation anyway

      1. That's how the Canadian west and Quebec feels too. Only divorce from old Canada can solve the inherent problems.

        1. Vive le Québec libre. And, fuck trudeau.

      2. I've contemplated moving to Texas just to make sure I'm already on that side of the border just in case. Which is hard, as a New Mexican. It hurts.

    2. Russia is the test case

      China is the model

      the ultimate target is you

      Exactly this.

      1. Canada is the process

    3. Join a credit union. Won’t save you forever, but will give you more time.

    1. I'd say! Some well-placed stock options nade a killing.

  8. : Banks are not really private businesses. "There are barriers to entry. You have to get permission to start a new bank.…The financial services industry is so intertwined with government."

    This is the push to corporate fascism. You also see it with the left pushing ESG scores to garner compliance. The left has transitioned to open fascism.

    And the sad part is many independents and self proclaimed libertarians are fine with it under the lie of private companies.

    How many people cheered payment processirs banning russia? All that harms is the people. But it is the normalization if fascism. Under cheering adoration.

    1. +10

    2. Yes. How are we to have peace when we forcibly make new enemies?

      How do you check territorial aggression when you ostracize and exclude nations from defensive treaty alliances?


    JUST IN: EU sanctions against Russia *require* search engines and social media companies to suppress and/or disappear Russian news outlets.


    1. "They hate us for our freedom."

      1. Mostly they hate us for trying to think for ourselves and any resistance to blind compliance.

        1. Everything they are doing is from the Mao playroom. James Lyndsay has a series of great podcasts on it.

          1. Most of the democrats are on the take from the CCP by the way.

    2. Respect for Musk for refusing.

      1. Grudgingly, but increasing by the day.

        He still owes a lot of gov't money to the people.

        1. How?

        2. He also has an irrational fear of AI gaining self-awareness, tied to a out of proportion sense of importance concerning humanity's role on the planet. That said, he has been saying some pithy things that tend to demonstrate a strong belief in individual rights.

      2. This is a bit different. This is actual legal pressure (on search engines) instead of just social pressure (on an ISP). Seems like it's already having an effect as DuckDuckGo now seems to be virtue-signalling their compliance.


    Many price increases are the **highest ever recorded** by @BLS_gov

    Hotels +29%
    Furniture +17.1
    Chicken +13.2
    New cars & trucks +12.4
    Flooring +11.3
    Lunchmeat +11
    Dry clean +9.5%
    Tools +8.7
    Baby food +8.4
    Full service restaurant +7.5
    Pet supplies +7.5
    Toys +6.7
    Car repair +6.7


      Price increases over last year (CPI report)
      Used Cars: +41.2%
      Gasoline: +38.0%
      Gas Utilities: +23.8%
      Meats/Fish/Eggs: +13.0%
      New Cars: +12.4%
      Electricity: +9.0%
      Food at home: +8.6%
      Overall CPI: +7.9%
      Food away from home: +6.8%
      Apparel: +6.6%
      Transportation: +6.6%
      Shelter: +4.7%


    2. "The price of baby food would not be an issue at all if you had just had an abortion. That is right. Abortion is a matter of pure economics. By opposing abortion, conservatives are to blame for inflation. It is that simple."

      Sounds crazy, but I would not be surprised to see Paul Krugman or some other lefty "economist" make a splash on social media with such a take.

      1. That is already the talking point for abortion on demand especially in communities of color a f poor communities. Advertisements from PP run exactly with that message.

    3. Spittin tabaccy is the pillar of all those industries. It is to blame.

      1. All that spittin tabaccy no longer coming from Russia as of this week is hitting last month's economy hard.

        1. There are a lot of current events that are affecting the past.

          1. +1

          2. If one listens to Bernie, the (starting in 2020) billionaires and the Koch Brother are clearly able to impact past events. I would not be surprised if the socialist dotard believes that they are responsible for both the extinction of the dinosaurs and 'climate change.'

  11. Hey, why even have government if we can't do social engineering? And why promote social engineering if we can't have comprehensive government?

  12. "Imagine if, during the Civil Rights era, Martin Luther King could have lost his bank account because he trespassed at a Woolworth's counter."

    Beautiful. 8-(

    1. ya I liked that.

    2. Yea, well, back in those days, they cancelled you the old way.

  13. You're a little late but at least you wrote it!

    Think back over the last, say, 20 years. Did you protest against the Iraq war? How about protesting at Occupy Wall Street? Were you a member of the Tea Party? A member of #TheResistance? Did you disagree with the government’s covid response? It’s nearly certain that everybody with a political pulse has crossed the government at one time or another. How comfortable are you with the idea that the person you’re protesting against can shut off your bank account?

    Because now, it seems, those perfectly legal actions at least have the potential to come with harsh monetary consequences, as well as the ensuing chaos caused by financial ruin. And this is happening all without a single shred of oversight or due process. It’s just some asshole in an expensive suit giving a list of ‘subversives’ to another asshole in an expensive suit. The no-fly list but with the very real potential to ruin your life.

  14. This protest against Big Razor has to end. Lose the beard, John.

    1. also, visine.

      1. No joke.

        He looks high as shit.

    2. Safety razors, 3 piece. 100 blades go for maybe $10ish. Screw messing around with companies that shit on their customers, screw paying for weird strips of lubricating stuff on cartridges that are stupidly expensive and don't provide a closer shave than a single blade.

      1. Straight razor . Shaving soap and brush.
        Be a man.

        1. Real men dry shave with a K-Bar.

  15. We've been mocking this pos for seven years now. Any other rat with this kind of sleazy and scandalous authoritarian track record of would have sunk by now. That such a remedial moron can cling to power in part because of the weakness of the other parties is concerning.

    May you rot in hell Justin for what you did to Canada. I mean it.

    Rot in hell. You and the Liberal party of Canada. May it sink to the ground.

  16. The Nazi-Regime (Obama Administration) cancelled all resource accessibility of selected Non-Nazi Citizens of the USA???

    Sounds like Witch-Hunting to me and don't kid yourselves; those Nazi-cheerleader citizens think of USA patriots (as well as that 'racist' USA Constitution of Individual Rights - which ironically freed the slaves) just like the Nazi-cheerleaders of the German Empire and Hitler thought of the Jews.

    Their entire [WE] mob is based on indoctrinated *hate* not principle. Its funny how [WE] mobs, Urban echo chambers and glass-jar brains can get so dysfunctional.

    Most of them are not Democrats because they really believe in Nazism (National Socialism - syn; Nazism) they're Democrats because they *hate* Republicans and they don't even care to understand why or what reason they hate. It's gang-affiliation pride ([WE] mobs) and prejudices run amok...

  17. We Canadians have a moron play acting as PM. He admires China, knows nothing about anything, is entitled from birth even though his father was F Castro and shits on us calling us genocidal bigots. Jr is a fucking idiot. Who won't go away even though we tell him we hate you. His closest political traveler is B Johnson of England and a handful of other authoritarian thugs splattered across the globe.

    For the truck problem in Ottawa, the police, enforcing bylaws would have done the job. Instead, he makes us all criminals.

    If you want to come to Canada to escape something, you better be Ukrainian because nobody else is worthy.

  18. Revert to cash and coin; true crypto also(Bitcoin and Ethereum. The more we force cash, the better.

  19. Nobody will take Justin Trudeau seriously after his buggering off moment.
    Which is a good thing as this will be his last in Ottawa. What is he going to do after? Maybe he can move to Cuba or China, he'll be more comfortable there with his friends.
    The little toddler tyrant is finished.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.