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At least 76 financial accounts frozen since Emergencies Act invoked: Mendicino

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Dozens of accounts with financial services firms have been frozen under new powers granted by the Emergencies Act over the past five days, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said Saturday.

Speaking at a virtual press conference that began just as police officers cleared protesters from Wellington Street in front of Parliament, Mendicino said "at least 76" accounts containing approximately $3.2 million had been frozen under the powers of the Act.

"The numbers that we have been able to provide you thus far … show very obviously how the Emergencies Act is being used to bring about the peaceful conclusion of the illegal blockades," he said.

Federal officials had previously refused to provide specifics of how many accounts were affected, citing a desire to maintain secrecy while police operations were ongoing.

When the Emergencies Act was invoked on Monday, banks and other financial institutions were directed to stop providing services to accounts that are suspected of being used to further the 'Freedom Convoy' protest in Ottawa or other blockades. They were also given the power to do so without first obtaining a court order, which would be the normal course of business.

Mendicino said Saturday that the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada is working with "small and medium-sized banks" to enforce the directives issued earlier in the week.

He described the new powers as "powerful financial disincentives" that can put pressure on protesters without the use of physical force.

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