- We’ll deal with Ukraine tomorrow…
- … because right now “de-banking” takes priority
- Protest organizer feels “banished, left to die”
- Temporary orders made permanent, natch
- Even family members targeted
- Gold and crypto prove their resilience
- We wish the American truckers well, but…
While mainstream financial outlets zig toward all-Ukraine-all-the-time… we’re compelled to zag.
To be sure, any other day we’d devote a fair chunk of our 5 Mins. to the latest Russia-Ukraine developments and the market impact.
But for now, the market impact is muted. As we write, the major U.S. stock indexes are down no more than three-quarters of a percent and gold sits where it did at the close on Friday. Crude is up to $92.74, but it’s been higher this month.
We’ll have time for Ukraine tomorrow. In addition, as we go to virtual press here… plans are coming together for an exclusive Zoom call featuring our global economics maven Jim Rickards. It’s set for tomorrow at 7:00 p.m. EST.You can sign up at this link. Don’t wait; Zoom has a 10,000-participant limit and we expect the slots to fill quickly. Secure your spot right here.
In the meantime, however, we direct our attention toward an even higher priority – your access as a citizen to the financial system, and Canada’s dystopian leap that makes it seem all too vulnerable.
“All of my bank accounts, person[al] and corporate, and all my credit cards have been frozen. Has happened to many others. It feels like being banished from the medieval village, left to die,” says B.J. Dichter — one of the organizers of the trucker protest in Canada.
The process of “de-banking” Canadian citizens that we described last Thursday is well and truly underway.
As a reminder, the measures imposed under the Emergencies Act of 1988 target not only the protesters but potentially those who gave them money, too.
“On Saturday,” reports the BBC, “the federal government said it had frozen at least 76 bank accounts linked to the protests representing $2.5 million under the temporary emergency measures.”
Except they won’t be only temporary now. “We used all the tools that we had prior to the invocation of the Emergencies Act and we determined we needed some additional tools,” says Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland — memorably described by a friend of journalist Matt Taibbi as “the Nurse Ratched of the New World Order.”
Canada’s CTV network cites a “senior police source” as saying even family members of the protesters “have had difficulty banking.”
“When these protesters or those that supported them end up in financial hardship because they lose their job, business or bank account, what will happen to those who try to help them?” wonders David Sacks, one of PayPal’s founding executives. We noted last summer how Mr. Sacks was concerned about the potential for everyday folks to be financially “cancelled” for holding the wrong opinions.
“Will Canadian financial institutions be forced to play Six Degrees of Deplorables?” he writes at Substack.
“The fear of being ensnared in the dragnet will surely have a chilling effect on the commercial prospects of those suspected of ‘unacceptable views,’ creating a caste of untouchables whom no one will dare to transact with or help.”
Perhaps some of the emergency measures will be rolled back sometime, but even so, “banks and financial institutions will be wary of resuming business relationships with any ‘designated person’ — or anyone they think could be one in the future. Confident that these private businesses will do their dirty work for them, the government will likely back off, but the chilling effect on political dissent will remain.
“It’s a Western version of China’s social credit system that does not altogether prohibit political dissent but makes it so costly that it becomes impractical to the ordinary citizen.”
Seen in this light, the fact that cops broke up the protest in the capital Ottawa last weekend is almost an afterthought — but we shouldn’t overlook it.
It was an ugly scene — in contrast with the party-like atmosphere, complete with bouncy castles and hot tubs, of the previous three weeks.
“I have spent 12 days live streaming from Ottawa,” tweeted the video blogger who goes by the handle Viva Frei. “I did not see one shred of violence until the police showed up.”
“Police blockades everywhere are 100X more disruptive than the Freedom Convoy ever was,” added a fellow who said he lives in central Ottawa. “We had to argue with police and show ID to simply go home after walking our dog.”
The crackdown climaxed with mounted police charging into a crowd and the horses trampling an older woman with a walker.
Conservative social media blew up with totally inaccurate reports she was killed; near as we can tell, she went to the hospital with a dislocated shoulder. Turns out she belongs to Canada’s Mohawk community — which goes to show that even having “protected status” as an indigenous person doesn’t mean squat if you have the wrong politics.
Once the cops broke up the protest, they turned their attention to nearby businesses that served the protesters — like a coffee shop — and shut them down. For how long, we don’t know…
While the protesters did not achieve their aims — more about their aims shortly — they did accomplish a thing or two.
Several provincial-level COVID restrictions and mandates were dropped last week — mostly in the Prairie provinces, but elsewhere too — before the crackdown in Ottawa.
Maybe more important, the mask of “liberal democracy” fell — revealing the face of authoritarianism.
Months after even the “experts” fessed up that the vaccines don’t prevent infection and don’t prevent spread, there’s no remaining justification for vaccine mandates other than Because we say so.
The hypocrisy of Canada’s power elite was also laid bare.
“Canada will always be there to defend the right of peaceful protest,” said none other than Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2020 — when farmers in India were blocking major highways to New Delhi.
After a crackdown on protesters in Cuba last year, Canada’s foreign ministry stood up “for freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly free from intimidation.”
As Lenin infamously said, “Kto kogo?” which translates to “Who/whom,” or “Who does what to whom?”
The protesters also — even if they didn’t plan it — demonstrate the resilience of gold and cryptocurrency.
Writes Ed Steer, a veteran observer of the gold market in the Great White North: “One thing I do know for sure — and that’s that physical bullion sales, which have been very strong for a long time now, went into hyper drive over the last few days, as the reports I’m hearing are amazing… especially here in Canada.”
As our Jim Rickards often says, gold can’t be hacked, frozen or seized online.
[Ed. note: Seems like a good time to remind you our friends at Hard Assets Alliance are the best in the business at sourcing the gold you want, when you want it — even if supplies are tight. You can open an account at this link, knowing that our firm owns a piece of Hard Assets Alliance and will collect a small cut once you fund an account.]
Meanwhile, Nurse Ratched’s — er, Minister Freeland’s — attempt to crack down on cryptocurrency is looking mighty ham-handed.
The Counter Signal website obtained documents spelling out a demand that all federally regulated financial firms in Canada cease transactions with 34 crypto wallets supposedly associated with the protest. “The police order comes via Trudeau’s extraordinary and self-prescribed emergency powers, and affects over 25 Bitcoin, worth approximately $1.4 million.”
Yeah, good luck with that: In a related move, a court in Ontario ordered an American Bitcoin wallet developer called Nunchuk to “freeze… assets” and “deliver up… any and all records” that might be relevant.
Nunchuk’s response was priceless. Seriously, read the whole thing…
If the lingo is still over your head, that’s what our Big Book of Crypto aims to solve, by the way. If you’re interested in crypto as a means of preserving your assets, get your copy here.
Meanwhile, American truckers will set out on their own convoy tomorrow. We wish them well, but we’re concerned — and not for the reasons you might think.
“The People’s Convoy” will embark from Adelanto, California, in the Mojave Desert. The idea is to pick up more supporters along the way as the convoy moves east — arriving finally in Washington, D.C., the evening of Saturday, March 5.
“This convoy is about freedom and unity,” says a press release: “the truckers are riding unified across party and state lines and with people of all colors and creeds — Christians, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Mormons, agnostics, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, Republican, Democrats.”
Right, wonderful — but what are your demands, exactly? No protest movement lasts long without issuing clear demands that would make a difference.
That’s why both the tea party movement and Occupy Wall Street fell flat a decade ago. Neither faction could channel their authentic rage over the bailouts and other post-2008 outrages into coherent demands.
The Canadian truckers failed in their objective, but at least they had one that was clear-cut — that the Canadian government rescind the vaccine mandate for truckers crossing the U.S.-Canadian border.
Over time, those demands grew. But they were still concrete.
Meanwhile, the key demands in the Trucker’s Declaration on the People’s Convoy homepage are these…
The first demand refers to the state of emergency declared by Donald Trump on March 13, 2020 — extended every so often by both Trump and Joe Biden.
Honestly, we don’t know what difference that would make. Would it stop Gov. Gavin Newsom from carrying on with restrictions and mandates in California? Would it force blue-city mayors to lift their own emergency orders?
Hell, would it even change anything on the federal level? We’re sure Team Biden could come up with legal sleight-of-hand to continue justifying, say, the vaccine mandate for health care workers and the mask mandate on airlines.
As for the Constitution “reigning supreme,” what does that even mean?
The problem with “demands” this squishy is that they can get diluted and sidetracked in a hurry. God help us if during a speech or an interview, one of the movement’s leaders strays from COVID and starts talking about a “stolen election” or fetal heartbeats or “backing the blue.” The cause will be lost in that instant — one more casualty of the culture wars.
Yes, we know this critique reeks of lobbing spitballs from the balcony — or in today’s instance, from a comfortable home office amid an Upper Midwest snowstorm.
Your editor is well aware of the sacrifices truckers have made these last two years — starting with being expected to deliver “essential” goods while deprived of basic things like access to rest-stop bathrooms.
They’re about to make even more sacrifices, potentially risking harassment, arrest or seizure of their assets. We know that. We just don’t want it to be for naught.
Which brings us to the mailbag: “A great tweet from Jim Rickards to the Canadian finance minister,” a reader writes after Friday’s edition.
“Now it would be just great if American truckers would declare Canada a NO-DRIVE ZONE.
“Any cargo destined for Canada must be picked up by Canadian truckers, of which there will be very few. Most will have their driver’s license suspended, bank accounts frozen and trucks impounded and will be spending their days and nights either in jail or on a park bench.
“There is only Freedom or No Freedom. There is no in between. The only violence in Ottawa is from the police breaking car windows and batter-ramming mobile trailers.”
“If the chosen ones in Canada are completely shut out of the financial system? Their entire life savings will have been stolen,” another writes — presumably from Canada, given the spelling that follows.
“They won’t be able to use their hard-earned, tax-paid-on, dollars to buy food for their families, pay their mortgages, electric or gas bills, insurance, buy gas for their cars? They can keep on working if they can get there but their auto-deposit paycheques will be of no use. Even if they could get a paper cheque from their employer, they can’t cash it anywhere……
“What other choice would these people have but to begin the revolution?”
The 5: Matt Taibbi was saying as much in his latest Substack article, kept behind a paywall or else we’d link to it.
Like us, he recognizes how the de-platforming of Alex Jones in 2018 was a Rubicon for free speech… opening the way to further suppression for wrongthink.
Referring to the apparent de-banking of the protesters’ family members, he writes: “This Soviet concept of guilt by association will now put it in the minds of everyone — not just in Canada but everywhere, since we’ve already seen these efforts reach into the pockets of American GoFundMe donors — that not only speech but their money might be disappeared, or frozen, because of their views, or the views of someone they know.
“This is madness, the kind of thing that sparks revolutions.”
The 5 Min. Forecast