A trio of US lawmakers condemned Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s handling of the 2022 Freedom Convoy protests in a recent debate on central bank digital currencies. 

The criticism emerged during a debate on a bill addressing the potential risks associated with central bank digital currencies on Thursday.

Several Republican representatives drew parallels between the Canadian government’s actions and those of authoritarian regimes. They highlighted the use of the Emergencies Act to freeze the financial assets of truckers protesting against COVID-19 vaccine mandates. 

Representative Tom Emmer (R-MN) compared the situation to China’s use of CBDCs for citizen surveillance. 

“In China, the Communist Party employs a CBDC that can be used to monitor citizens’ spending habits,” Emmer said. “Closer to home in the Western Hemisphere, the Canadian Government demonstrated the power of federal financial surveillance and control when it froze the bank accounts of hundreds of truckers protesting the Covid vaccine mandate in 2022.”

Rep. French Hill (R-AR) underscored the potential for government overreach inherent in financial surveillance. 

“This legislation is necessary because we live in a world where government can abuse the tools that they have,” Hill asserted. “As noted by the whip, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was freezing bank accounts of people protesting COVID-19 restrictions in his country.”

Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) echoed these sentiments and warned against complacency regarding government powers. 

“We should learn the lessons from the oppressed citizens everywhere from Canada to the communist Chinese before it is too late,” Perry declared.

The debate on Thursday was not the first time Trudeau’s policies have been criticized in the U.S. Congress. 

In June 2022, Rep. Bob Good (R-VA) labelled the Trudeau administration as “oppressive,” drawing comparisons to authoritarian regimes. 

“The guarantee provided by our Founders to ensure we remain free from foreign invasion and, yes, from an oppressive government like we see in Canada, Australia, and the Democrats’ beloved Communist China is the constitutional right of law-abiding citizens to be armed as they choose,” Good remarked.

The controversy stems from Trudeau’s decision in February 2022 to invoke the Emergencies Act, an unprecedented move that allowed financial institutions to freeze the accounts of those involved with the Freedom Convoy. 

Under the direction of law enforcement, Canadian banks froze nearly $8 million held in 206 accounts. The freezes were enacted under laws targeting terrorist and money laundering activities.

However, subsequent testimony from the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police indicated there was no evidence of criminal or extremist group financing in the protests.