Canada Unity 2022, the group of anti-vaccine protestors who have snarled traffic in Ottawa and earned accolades in the right-wing media, wants to talk to you about Bitcoin.
A handful of the group’s organizers held a press conference on Facebook Live Wednesday that quickly devolved into a presentation on the popular form of cryptocurrency, confusing many of their supporters who were watching online.
“Are we at a press conference for Freedom Convoy 2022 or having some guy shove Bitcoin down our throats?” one comment griped. “Very disappointed! I came to see updates about progress made by our Truckers.”
The convoy protests began in late January, after a loose affiliation of truckers banded together to drive from western Canada to the nation’s capital of Ottawa to voice opposition to COVID-19 vaccine mandates for truckers crossing the border into the US. The movement has been embraced by Republican politicians in the US, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. The Canadian government has hit back, denouncing “foreign interference” from the US.
But very little of that was discussed at today’s press conference. The event kicked off with three of the protest movement’s organizers, including Tamara Lich, a former fitness instructor and singer in an Alberta band called Blind Monday, who played a prominent role in organizing a GoFundMe campaign that raised about 10 million Canadian dollars ($7.8 million ) for the anti-vaxx protest.
After spending several minutes disparaging “fake news” and praising supporters like Jordan Peterson, a philosopher whose work is admired by the right, the group turned to Bitcoin.
BJ Dichter, who introduced himself as “vice president and spokesperson for the Freedom Convoy,” said the group has been in touch with “some of the most prominent Bitcoiners on YouTube” to learn how to use cryptocurrency to raise money for their cause. (GoFundMe shut down the group’s fundraising campaign last week, citing “violence and other unlawful activity” during the demonstrations.)
Dichter turned the press conference over to a man named “Nick” who he described as the group’s “Bitcoin team lead for the Freedom Convoy.” Nick, sporting a thick beard and a black sweatshirt with the Bitcoin logo in the upper-right corner, started by setting expectations. “I wouldn’t call myself an expert,” he said. “But I am a liaison to the experts in the Bitcoin world.” Nick said the aim was to fight for the group’s freedom to raise money “without being shackled by the censorship put in place by our legacy financial system.”
After several minutes of a lecture on the advantages of a decentralized fundraising platform, supporters watching the livestream seemed flummoxed.
“This is not what I thought it would be, thanks guys but I’m thinking you will be losing some money support with this… anyway, have a good day,” wrote one commenter. Others implored the group to ditch the Bitcoin talk and get back to the issue at hand: truckers fighting against vaccine mandates.
“I get the safety of donating to Bitcoin… but why are we promoting digital currency?!” another wrote.
In some respects, the convergence of the anti-vaxx protests and Bitcoin was probably inevitable. Last month, the protests drew support from one of the biggest proponents of Bitcoin in the world, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who tweeted “Canadian truckers rule.” Former President Donald Trump has voiced support, and right-wing figures from Tucker Carlson to Ben Shapiro to Michael Flynn have seized on the trucker protests.
The group sees Bitcoin as a possible solution to its fundraising woes. And they may have some support, too. A group of Canadian Bitcoin supporters who go by the moniker “HonkHonkHodl” have created a crypto crowdfunding campaign on the Tallycoin platform as an alternative funding portal for the Freedom Convoy.
According to Tallycoin, the group has raised 1.5 billion in satoshis, with the goal of reaching 2.1 billion.