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The Big Read

Why Canada’s ‘shocking’ crackdown on the convoy fundraisers continues to rattle the crypto world

In early February, with the snowy streets of Ottawa’s downtown full of big rigs and protestors, Nicholas St. Louis, a local physiotherapist and the trucker convoy’s self-described “Bitcoin team lead,” posted a YouTube video in which he sang the digital currency’s praises.

Bitcoin would let the protesters, who’d gathered to oppose COVID-19 public health restrictions and air a host of other grievances, “receive global donations without any obstruction,” St. Louis told the camera. A few days earlier, the crowdfunding site GoFundMe had shut down an effort that had raised over $10 million to support the protests. A Bitcoin fundraiser was St. Louis’ proposed solution. According to documents later filed in court, he believed it was effectively beyond the reach of the law: “Uncensorable, permissionless and when you custody it properly it is unconfiscatable.”

Little did he know that three police forces including the RCMP, the federal government, and a team of civil litigators were about to challenge that belief.

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