Five candidates of the Conservative Party of Quebec (CPQ) donated money to support the Freedom Convoy protest against COVID-19 measures that paralyzed downtown Ottawa for weeks during the winter, Radio-Canada has learned.
The donations were made at the height of the crisis on GiveSendGo, shortly after the popular site GoFundMe ended payments to convoy organizers due to concerns about violence and harassment at the large demonstration.
The protest lasted from Jan. 29 to Feb. 23.
Radio-Canada consulted a list of 93,000 donors linked to the crowdfunding campaign on GiveSendGo. The list leaked by Distributed Denial of Secrets — also known as DDoSecrets — an American whistleblowing organization.
The five CPQ candidates, who are running in ridings in Montreal and Laval, contributed amounts ranging from $20 to $125.
The crowdfunding campaign netted a total of more than $10 million in donations for the protest, which lasted three weeks and featured thousands of demonstrators — many of whom parked their heavy trucks near Parliament Hill.
As a result of the protest, the province of Ontario declared of state of emergency. On Feb. 14, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act.
'Useless' COVID-19 measures
Along with her $125 donation, Louise Sexton, who is running in Montreal's Maurice-Richard riding, left a written message on the website that described COVID-19 measures as "useless." She also said they threatened to erode freedoms.
Stefano Piscitelli, who is vying for the seat in Laval's Vimont riding, donated $85 and left a message on GiveSendGo that read "Hold the line," in an apparent show of support to the protesters.
Chakib Saab, a CPQ candidate in Jeanne-Mance–Viger wrote "We love you," to go along with his donation of $20.
"For me, for you, for them, for freedom. Lots of love," wrote Carmel-Antoine Bessard, who is running in Montreal's Bourassa-Sauvé riding. She donated $50.
The CPQ told Radio-Canada it has no intentions of asking the candidates who donated to the convoy protest to step down.
"As long as a protest remains peaceful, for us, the right to protest is part of freedom of expression and is essential to our democracy," said Cédric Lapointe, a spokesperson for the party.
"Our candidates did not act violently by participating in the truckers' protest in Ottawa."