OTTAWA—The leader of the so-called “freedom convoy,” Tamara Lich, discussed a strategy to “paralyze” the capital in the early days of the protests that paralyzed the streets around Parliament Hill for three weeks this winter, according to evidence presented in court on Tuesday.
Crown counsel Moiz Karimjee presented the evidence, which was obtained through a police search of a cell phone belonging to Chris Barber, a fellow protest organizer who is indicted with Lich on a series of charges related to his involvement. in the occupation of the convoy.
Lich returned to court Tuesday for her fourth bond hearing since her initial arrest in February, after she was rearrested last week for allegedly violating a condition of her release.
The January 30 text message exchange, which was shown on a large screen in court, showed Lich telling Barber that he had just received a call with the protest “command center.”
She goes on to say, “They have a strategy to bring the city to a standstill. I don’t want to make those decisions on my own.”
Lawrence Greenspon, Lich’s defense attorney, dismissed the text message exchange as inconclusive, arguing that it should not influence the court to agree with Karimjee and cancel Lich’s previous release order and keep her in prison while waiting. his criminal trial.
Greenspon noted that it is unclear which strategy Lich was referring to, arguing that “she is not buying his strategy… It is certainly not conclusive that she had any intention of blockading or shutting down the city.”
Meanwhile, Karimjee said that the text is the “Crown CN Tower case” against Lich and shows that she made decisions in the leadership of the protest.
“She wanted to continue a gridlock plan to force an elected government to make decisions by paralyzing the city of Ottawa,” Karimjee said, describing local residents as “helpless victims.”
The convoy protests, which began when the trucks began to arrive on January 28, ended up becoming entrenched in the capital, with hundreds of semi-trucks and other vehicles parked along downtown streets where protesters set up cooking tents. , a supply depot, bouncy castles and an inflatable. Hydromassage bathtub. The situation led to border blockades across Canada as Ottawa police reported an increase in death threats against public officials and a spate of calls clogging local emergency lines. Ultimately, the federal government gave police and banks temporary special powers under the never-before-used Emergencies Law to deal with the crisis.
The text message exchange was revealed as the Crown alleges that Lich violated his bail conditions when he interacted with Tom Marazzo, a retired Army officer and fellow convoy organizer, at a gala in Toronto on June 16. Lich accepted the George Jonas Freedom Award at the event. which was organized by the Justice Center for Constitutional Freedoms.
Lich was arrested last week in Medicine Hat, Alta. on a Canada-wide warrant for her arrest, and two local homicide detectives leading the investigation into his conduct brought her back to Ottawa, the court heard Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Karimjee and Greenspon argued over whether Lich’s interaction with Marazzo violated the provision that prohibited them from “any” contact, except through or in the presence of an attorney.
Greenspon argued that although Lich and Marazzo sat at the same table during the Justice Center gala, the Crown’s evidence about the alleged breach of bail only shows that they had a brief video interaction when Lich left the stage after accept the award, as well as a photograph. which shows them posing together.
Greenspon said the bail condition was intended to prevent communication that could lead to behavior similar to what sparked the other charges against Lich: staging another large-scale demonstration.
“I had no intention of preventing a sub-three-second exchange of congratulations” or preventing Lich from posing with someone for a photo, Greenspon said.
The fact that this is “all they have,” four months after Lich was released on bail, shows that she can be trusted to follow the terms of her release, he said.
Greenspon also argued that there is no evidence to eliminate the possibility that the attorneys were present during the contact between Marazzo and Lich, as an Ottawa police detective who testified in court Tuesday admitted he did not know some of the others. that appeared in the video and photo of the event.
Finally, he pointed out that Lich had spent nine days in jail for the alleged rape, which he said “far exceeds” anything anyone should expect from a person like Lich, with no criminal record facing non-violent charges.
“Does this court really need to arrest Ms. Lich for what she did in Toronto? It’s as simple as that,” Greenspon said.
“Detention on that basis, for what he did, is not justified and would, in my opinion, bring the administration of justice into disrepute.”
Karimjee countered that the gala itself, as well as Lich’s speech accepting the freedom award, amounted to a “glorification of the occupation” of downtown Ottawa. He argued that the evidence of the event is new and must be considered in any new decision on whether to release Lich from jail again.
“Why should I trust her again?” Karimjee said, calling her previous release on bail a “gift” that she “kicks in the mouth.”
Karimjee also pointed to another text message exchange between Barber and Lich during the protests, where they discuss previous arrests and theft allegations against Pat King, a far-right influencer who was involved in the convoy and is also in jail on charges of your paper. .
King has also come up with an unfounded and racist conspiracy theory about white replacement.
Evidence showed that Lich texted Barber: “We need him and I don’t care about his past. But only one is needed. We have to control his rhetoric.”
Karimjee argued that this exchange “reveals that (Lich) has no principles and that the end justifies the means.”
Justice of the Peace Paul Harris is scheduled to deliver a decision in court on Friday.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION