Tamara Lich Denied Bail, Canadian Regulators Square Off With Bitcoin

Terrorist organizer, Tamara Lich, was denied bail. This as Canadian regulators square off with Bitcoin.

Earlier, we reported on authorities finally taking out the garbage on Parliament Hill. Ottawa residents have been calling for the removal of the terrorist occupiers for the better part of three weeks. With the threats, assaults, psychological torture from the constant noise and the deteriorated air quality, the residents in the area took the brunt of the tyranny the occupiers put Canada through.

While the main terrorist occupation is over, the story is far from over. Currently, we are hearing reports about occupiers trying to regroup in other parts of town. For some, the fact that they are still trying to regroup is more of a sign that they don’t know that their attempted overthrow of the democratically elected government is over and that they lost. For others, these activities justifies both the police presence and the Emergencies Act.

To no ones surprise, the Emergencies Act passed the House of Commons. The NDP were very open about voting for its passage, though note that the situation should not have gotten to this point. However, due to inaction on the Prime Minister’s part, it is basically seen as the only logical option at this stage. From the CBC:

A motion affirming the Liberal government’s decision to invoke the Emergencies Act passed a crucial House of Commons vote Monday, ensuring the expansive powers contained in the act remain in use by authorities thanks to parliamentary support from the New Democrats.

While the powers contained in the Emergency Act took effect immediately, the Liberal government needed to seek approval for its decision to invoke the act from the House of Commons within seven days. If that vote had failed, the emergency declaration would have been revoked.

Conservative MPs in the House booed and shouted “shame” when the first NDP MPs stood up to vote in favour of the motion. The Conservatives, however, applauded Bloc Québécois MPs when they stood to support the Conservatives.

The Liberals cheered loudly, drowning out heckles from the Conservatives when Green MP Elizabeth May voted in favour of the motion, which passed by a vote of 185 to 151.

Immediately after the vote passed, interim Conservative Leader Candice Bergen stood up and tried to enter a motion recalling the use of the Emergencies Act, but that motion was ruled out of order.

So, now this moves to the Senate where it will eventually be voted on. It would be surprising if it doesn’t pass the Senate, but we’ll wait and see what happens on that front.

Canadian Regulators Square Off With Bitcoin

While parts of the Emergency Act is moving through the Senate at this stage, elements are being enforced already. Bank accounts of suspected terrorists have been frozen with Canadian banks agreeing to cooperate. With the GoFundMe page suspended long ago and the GiveSendGo getting funds frozen, the financial backers, many of whom are from outside of Canada, are generally looking towards Bitcoin to continue carrying through their foreign interference campaign.

Some players in the cryptocurrency world are actively trying to assist the terrorists in their operations, no doubt happy to welcome the influx of cash to boost the value. Already, Canadian regulators are looking to find ways of blocking the terrorists funding and are reportedly telling exchanges not to promote self-custodial wallets. From Coindesk:

Tweets from the CEOs of Coinbase and Kraken that advocated self-custody of digital assets are being looked at the by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for violating sanctions put in place to curb the trucker protests in the country, according to a report from The Logic.

  • The Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) sent the tweets to the police because it believed that the crypto executives were offering advice on how to evade the sanctions on funds, according to the report.
  • Late last week, the Ontario Provincial Police and Royal Canadian Mounted Police ordered all regulated financial institutions, including crypto exchanges, to cease trading and freeze the assets of “designated persons” involved in the trucker protests as well as 34 associated crypto wallets.
  • Shortly after Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland announced the measure, both Powell and Armstrong tweeted in support of self-custody wallets.
  • Self-custody means that the owner of the digital asset holds the private key for the wallet and thus has exclusive access. An appropriate metaphor would be keeping an asset in a safe with only the owner having the combination to the safe, instead of placing it in a bank.

Some entities in the Bitcoin world are actively telling the Canadian courts that they won’t freeze any accounts, saying that they don’t have that kind of power in the first place. How true that ultimately is no doubt varies. Still, it shows that some in the Bitcoin community are actively siding with the terrorists and see this as a test of how robust their system actually is.

The thing is, with how financial transactions are being handled these days, the actions already taken by the Canadian government basically relegates many of those its targeting to fugitives. When your bank account is frozen, how are you going to be receiving paychecks from your day job? That is, at best, going to be incredibly difficult. What’s more is that credit cards are getting declined in the system when there is a suspicion that the person is related to the terrorists. This inherently makes life much more difficult.

While there may be some protections by dealing with Bitcoin, the problem is going to be how you can actually spend it. Unless you are shopping at niche stores that decided to accept Bitcoin, there isn’t really a whole lot of options for one to actually spend that Bitcoin in the first place. Further, the Canadian government holds a heck of a lot of cards when it comes to converting Bitcoin back to Canadian currency. Further, the fact that a number are attempting to circumvent the court orders and the Emergencies Act is basically the equivalent of taking a baseball bat to a beehive. You’re only going to annoy authorities further – and the stings are going to be more painful.

At this point in time, I would be fully expecting authorities to basically be poking and prodding through every nook and cranny in the system, looking for weaknesses. In this case, there will be weaknesses to be found if they haven’t been found already. Some attempts might seem silly and some in the Bitcoin community might feel smug when they get, in their mind, a seemingly hilarious request to freeze accounts, but this is just part of the process of figuring out how to make things difficult for those who are happy to funnel funding for terrorism.

From personal experience, there are some incredibly bright individuals that are working from the law enforcement side of things when it comes to investigating financial crimes. Pair that with the powers granted by the Emergencies Act and the fact that the financial destinations are within Canada and you have a very formidable opposition on your hands. In our view, the best case scenario for some of these terrorists is sneaking down into the US to get out of the Canadian jurisdiction. At that point, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Even some in the Bitcoin community acknowledge that funnelling cash into Canada to fund terrorism operations won’t be easy. Still, some are striking a more optimistic tone that Bitcoin might succeed in the end. From Reason:

Things are getting pretty wild up in Canada. While other countries are removing their COVID restrictions, our neighbors to the north have decided to invoke emergency powers to seize the bank accounts of those who oppose lockdowns and mandates. Meanwhile, state media is prowling through a hacked database of convoy donors (isn’t that a bannable offense on Twitter?) to dox and open targets to harassment.

Financial deplatforming has always been a threat, but it’s mostly been a remote one. With these unprecedented banking punishments against the Canadian trucker convoy and its supporters, the reality of the controls baked into our financial system have become clear to the world.

Yes, “bitcoin fixes this.” But it’s not as simple as repeating this mantra. It is absolutely possible to transfer value directly with a peer without any bank or government being able to stop or reverse it. But it’s not easy. Preparing for an explicitly politically controlled financial system means learning now about how to use cryptocurrency and what controls the government still has over certain service providers.

But bitcoin is not magic. There are limitations and controls even within the bitcoin economy. We need to understand these now so that if we are ever placed in a similar situation, we will know how to navigate around them.

The first problem: many third-party bitcoin service providers are regulated, too. If you sign up for a custodial service like Coinbase or Square that holds the private keys to your bitcoins, then you could find yourself deplatformed just like if you had an account with Bank of America. These third-party services are regulated just like the legacy guys, and they collect and report information on your transactions.

The Canadian government leaned on custodial cryptocurrency exchanges to cut off access to dissidents. This doesn’t just mean cutting off the Coinbase accounts of people at the protests. It means preventing any other Coinbase account from donating to the blacklisted address of a self-hosted (sovereign) account. They have that ability so it will be exercised.

So, plenty of misinformation to begin with in the article, but the point is that even terrorist supporters are admitting that this is going to be, at best, a tough nut to crack.

Some people in the cryptocurrency community have gone even further and proclaimed that Canada’s financial system is on the brink of collapse and that the only thing people can do is convert to Bitcoin now before the Canadian dollar is worthless. I’ll give you a moment to stop laughing.

Regardless, this is likely going to be one large battle between the Canadian government trying to stop people from funding terrorism within Canada and some in the world of cryptocurrency who are hoping to cash in on this and want to be seen as unstoppable. We can only expect some of this to get ugly from here on out from this side of the story.

Still, it does lend support to the narrative that Bitcoin is only used for speculation and criminal activity. Many in the Bitcoin community have been working hard to try and break that connection and promote Bitcoin as a valid and lawful alternative currency. Chances are, these developments are not helping that cause.

Tamara Lich Denied Bail

One of the organizers arrested was none other than Tamara Lich. She was part of starting the GoFundMe campaign that was shut down and helped organize the terrorist occupation. The next step for her after our report was bail hearings. Initially, it looked like bail was going to be set at around $5,000, but the judge decided to spend a weekend contemplating the decision. The reasoning was that the judge needed time to contemplate the facts of the case.

That meant that Lich spent the weekend in prison. With the new week, a decision was rendered and Lich was denied bail:

On Tuesday, the judge said she was not convinced Lich would go home, stay there and stop her alleged counselling.

“This community has already been impacted enough by some of the criminal activity and blockades you took part in and even led,” said Justice Julie Bourgeois.

“You have had plenty of opportunity to remove yourself and even others from this criminal activity but obstinately chose not to and persistently counselled others not to either.

“In Canada, every citizen can certainly disagree with and protest against government decisions but it needs to be done in a democratic fashion in abidance with the laws that have been established democratically.”

Bourgeois said she found Lich to be guarded and “almost obstructive” at times during the initial court appearance on Saturday and the judge stated it was disturbing Lich didn’t have a plan to get home after other organizers started getting arrested.

Her husband Dwayne Lich, who would be responsible as a proposed surety to report any breach of bail conditions, gave “unreliable and not credible” evidence, Bourgeois found.

Tamara Lich, who Bourgeois says could face a “lengthy” stay in prison if convicted, is scheduled to return to court on March 2.

For clarity, the references for counselling is in reference to counselling to commit mischief.

Either way, it looks like she will be spending even more time behind bars.

Pat King to Have Bail Hearing on Friday

Another terrorist organizer, Pat King, will also have a bail hearing. King, of course, is known for his racist rants online along with his calls for live bullets to be used on people opposed to the occupation. The developments in the Lich case might not be something that sounds promising for King’s case. From the CBC:

One of the leaders of the three-week occupation in Ottawa will remain in jail until at least Friday when a judge will decide whether he will be released on bail.

Alberta resident Pat King sat through his first bail hearing all day Tuesday that focused, for the most part, on his proposed surety who pledged $50,000 to ensure King won’t violate his bail conditions.

King faces four charges related to his involvement in the occupation including mischief, counselling to commit the offence of mischief, counselling to commit the offence of disobey court order, and counselling to commit the offence of obstruct police.

His arrest last Friday night was captured on a livestream and broadcast to thousands of people.

So, King will be spending even more time behind bars as well.

It’s worth pointing out that while at least 4 organizers are at least in custody, some organizers do remain at large. Whether anything will happen to them remains unclear, but we do know that the Canadian government is actively trying to put the squeeze on these terrorists and prevent more infrastructure from being hijacked.

There was some debate in the Canadian Senate regarding the Emergencies Act. Some of the arguments against it were generally unconvincing. One of those arguments was that when someone violates tax law, their bank accounts don’t get frozen (actually, that happens a fair bit with those who are actively evading authorities). Another related argument is that murderers don’t have their bank accounts frozen either (maybe not in a lot of cases, but they aren’t coordinating with a couple hundred other people to actively overthrow the government either).

So, two days after the occupation was effectively ended and there’s still plenty of developments and stories to follow throughout all of this. We’ll try and keep tabs on things as best we can in the days ahead.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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