Tamara Lich’s case not a trial of the ‘Freedom Convoy,’ says defence lawyer

By Laura Osman, The Canadian Press

The lawyer for “Freedom Convoy” organizer Tamara Lich warned the court Tuesday that the upcoming trial on her criminal charges should not put the entire convoy on trial.

Lich was a figurehead of the demonstrations that gridlocked downtown Ottawa for three weeks in early 2022 in protest against COVID-19 public health restrictions and the federal Liberal government.

She and her fellow organizer, Chris Barber, were both arrested the day before hundreds of police officers in tactical gear moved in to remove protesters from the roads around Parliament Hill.

The pair have been co-accused of mischief, obstructing police and counselling others to commit mischief and intimidation.

Barber is facing an additional charge of counselling others to disobey a court order.

Lich’s lawyer Lawrence Greenspon was in court Tuesday to request more information ahead of the trial in hopes of getting a clearer idea of what evidence the Crown plans to use to make its case.

“This should not be the trial of the Freedom Convoy,” Greenspon told the court.

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Lich and Barber were among the original organizers of the Freedom Convoy protest that rolled into Ottawa on Jan. 27, 2022.

Thousands of heavy trucks parked on downtown Ottawa streets, honking horns at all hours of the day and night and choking the air with exhaust from their idling engines. Protesters set up camps in the blocked-off streets and vowed not to leave until the government met their varied and often-changing demands.

The protest drew crowds so large that local police and politicians were at a loss about what to do and local residents said the city had descended into lawlessness.

The federal government declared a public order emergency under the Emergencies Act on Feb. 14, 2022, granting special powers to governments, police and banks to freeze the protesters’ accounts and remove them from streets and other critical infrastructure.

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Lich and Barber both appeared in court virtually Tuesday.

Ontario Court Justice Heather Perkins-McVey agreed the trial had the potential to get “out of control,” and said she would not allow that to happen.

The Crown had given Lich’s defence team a broad outline of how it plans to proceed in January, but there is nothing to prevent the lawyers from deviating from that plan.

Crown attorney Siobhain Wetscher promised to deliver a full list of trial witnesses and evidence to Lich and Barber’s lawyers by Aug. 1.

The trial is expected to begin Sept. 5.

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