Fundraising platform says it needs to know how donations related to vaccine protest will be distributed
GoFundMe is holding off on distributing more than CA$4.7 million ($3.7 million) raised for a trucker convoy in Canada protesting COVID-19 mandates until it receives more information about how funds will be distributed.
“Our goal is to protect the generosity of donors and ensure that every dollar donated on our platform reaches the right place,” a GoFundMe spokesperson said in a statement on Tuesday. “We require that fundraisers be transparent about the flow of funds and have a clear plan for how those funds will be spent.”
Freedom Convoy 2022 has collected over 60,000 donations since its launch on Jan. 14. According to a statement from organizers, the funds will primarily cover fuel costs “and hopefully food and lodgings to help ease the pressures of this arduous task.”
Multiple convoys have already set out from across Canada — destined for the capital, Ottawa, on Saturday. In Saskatchewan, police reported a convoy of over 1,000 trucks heading east.
“I can see a line of trucks for miles and miles,” Lee Bates, a farmer and truck driver from Alberta, said from his Kenworth as he drove through Manitoba. “It’s incredible.”
GoFundMe said of its scrutiny of the funding distribution, “This is part of our standard process to ensure the protection of all donors.” The fundraiser is continuing to accept contributions.
The funds will be released promptly after the organizers submit a withdrawal plan, the GoFundMe spokesperson said.
“Once a withdrawal plan is provided by the organizer, our team is on standby to safely and quickly deliver the funds,” the spokesperson said but didn’t provide an exact timetable.
The organizer, political activist Tamara Lich, did not respond to FreightWaves’ request for comment.
Lich is an organizer for the Maverick Party, which advocates for the independence of Canada’s western provinces. On Monday, the party issued a statement saying it is “not directly involved in the convoy.”
The convoy’s organizers sought to reassure supporters via a Facebook message that the GoFundMe campaign remains active.
“Hey FREEDOM FIGHTERS!!! We know there is much talk going on about the GOFUNDME but rest assured, if it had been frozen then y’all wouldn’t be able to show the love and donate. We see the amazing support of our country. You make us all proud!!” the post stated.
The protest convoys emerged in response to COVID-19 vaccination requirements imposed by the U.S. and Canadian governments for cross-border truckers and other essential workers.
Since Saturday, the U.S. borders have been closed for unvaccinated and partially vaccinated Canadian and Mexican truckers. Canada implemented a similar restriction at its borders on Jan. 15.
The Canadian government has continued to back the vaccination requirements. The Canadian Trucking Alliance, the largest carrier organization in Canada, has also called on the industry to accept the mandates, though it had lobbied the U.S. and Canadian governments to delay their implementation.
On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dismissed the backlash against the mandates, saying that 90% of truckers were vaccinated in Canada. Canadian drivers account for about 75% of the 160,000 drivers who regularly move freight between the U.S. and Canada.