Darrin Calcutt

The Trudeau government struggled to give out $20 million in subsidies to businesses they claimed suffered during the Freedom Convoy in downtown Ottawa. 

After federal workers went door-to-door asking business owners to apply for cheques, the Federal Economic Development Agency managed to payout $12.9 million despite efforts to encourage take-ups that averaged $11,494. 

According to Blacklock’s Reporter, local authorities claimed severe economic losses over the protests. 

Invest Ottawa cited a March 11 CBC story, which claimed “total economic damage may range from about $44 million up to $200 million,” to justify their claims.

“I can tell you from my vantage point they were very significant,” said the CEO of Invest Ottawa Michel Tremblay, CEO of Invest Ottawa, during a House of Commons Finance committee on March 14. 

According to the City of Ottawa, costs were closer to $37 million. Ottawa City Council said it has no plans to try and recover the costs from Freedom Convoy organizers.

The federal government offered to pay businesses directly for any losses including, “utilities, insurance, bank charges, loss of inventory, wages, rent and other costs acquired during the demonstrations” according to terms of compensation. 

Records showed the Federal Economic Development Agency went to extraordinary lengths to make payouts. The Agency extended the application deadline from April 30 to May 15. Federal workers were instructed to “boost awareness and increase applications from business owners.”

Businesses whose applications were originally rejected report receiving phone calls with unsolicited help on how to fill out forms. 

“The team is reaching out by telephone to these applicants to move their file along as a deficiency in their application was noted,” wrote staff.

The government also translated the grant guide into “Arabic, Vietnamese and Chinese to ensure those business owners for whom English or French is not their first language may understand the eligibility.”

Records show the Agency’s final payout figure came 36% under budget.

According to an internal report provided to the Trudeau cabinet, most Canadians believe the Trudeau government overreached when invoking the Emergencies Act in February to clear peaceful Freedom Convoy protestors from Ottawa’s core.

“Though a small number of participants felt implementing the Emergencies Act was a necessary step given the disturbance caused by the seemingly indefinite nature of the protests, most felt this action represented significant ‘over-reach’ by the federal government as they interpreted this as limiting the right of these Canadians to peaceful protest,” wrote researchers. 

“A significant number identified with the frustration expressed by the protesters regarding ongoing public health measures even if they disagreed with some of the methods.”

Hearings for the commission investigating Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s invocation of the Emergencies Act have been postponed to October 13 as Commissioner Paul Rouleau tends to an undisclosed medical situation.