A Freedom Convoy organizer still on trial for his role in the 2022 trucker protest is suing the federal government for freezing demonstrators’ bank accounts after a court finding that the Emergencies Act was unconstitutional and unreasonable. 

It was under the invocation of the Emergencies Act that the Trudeau government justified freezing the bank accounts of those opposing COVID mandates in the three-week-long Ottawa protest.

Chris Barber, a Saskatchewan trucker who led the convoy across Canada to Ottawa, argues in his lawsuit that his Charter rights were violated.

Barber filed a statement of claim last week in a Court of King’s Bench in Saskatoon, alleging that the unprecedented decision by the federal government to invoke the act was an abuse of power.

Barber owns and operates a trucking company in southwestern Saskatchewan. The lawsuit claims that his frozen accounts resulted in missed payments as well as defaults on loans, damaging Barber’s credit score, which “marred indefinitely” his business for future funding applications. 

“This disruption deprived (Barber and his wife) of the ability to conduct basic financial transactions and live normal lives, leading to severe inconvenience, hardship, embarrassment, exclusion from modern society, and damaged personal and business relationships,” reads the claim, which also names Barber’s wife and his trucking business as plaintiffs.

A spokesperson for the Trudeau government said that so far, no statement of defence has been filed. 

“We will review the claims in order to determine next steps,” wrote the spokesperson in an email to Global News.

The Freedom Convoy was co-organized by Barber, along with Tamara Lich and others, to oppose vaccine mandates and other pandemic restrictions.

Both are currently on trial in Ottawa on charges of mischief, intimidation and several charges related to counselling others to break the law. 

Barber’s lawsuit is in response to a decision by Federal Court Judge Richard Mosley that the invocation of the Emergencies Act and the measures employed under it were unconstitutional and unreasonable.

Mosley said that the use of the act ultimately led to the infringement of Canadians’ constitutional rights and that the Trudeau government failed to require that “some objective standard be satisfied” before freezing citizen’s bank accounts.

He concluded that the act of freezing bank accounts breached the Charter prohibition against unreasonable search or seizure.

The Trudeau government has vowed to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The statement of claim said that Barber had all of his personal and business bank accounts frozen within a day of the invocation without notice.

This prevented him from withdrawing or depositing money. Additionally, he could not use his credit cards and all of his automatic payments were blocked.

His daily living expenses like food, fuel and medicine were made inaccessible, reads the lawsuit. Barber “suffered and experienced fear and anxiety due to the anticipated loss of income.” 

The Trudeau government’s decision to freeze bank accounts was for the “improper purpose of dissuading and punishing” protesters for exercising fundamental Charter rights, alleges the lawsuit.