BMO leaders asked about Emergencies Act in annual shareholder meeting

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TORONTO — Bank of Montreal leaders were asked during the bank’s annual shareholder meeting if they would “consider a court challenge” after the federal government directed financial institutions in February to freeze accounts of individuals connected to the anti-COVID mandate convoy that took over downtown Ottawa for weeks.

The order was made under the Emergencies Act, which was invoked for the first time in Canadian history on Feb. 14. and lifted on Feb. 23.

BMO board chair George Cope responded but didn’t directly answer the question, saying that the bank has “positive dialogue” with the federal government and follows the lead of the Canadian bank regulator.

BMO was also pressed, like other Big Five banks have been, on its climate strategy, as it works to manage its operations and clients on the path to net-zero emissions by 2050.

In his prepared remarks, BMO’s CEO Darryl White reiterated the bank’s $12 billion pledge to finance affordable and accessible housing in Canada over a 10-year period.

He also delved into the company’s U.S. growth strategy, including its agreement to acquire California’s Bank of the West, which is still awaiting regulatory approvals.

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