Prison ‘Freedom Convoy’ Organizer Tamara Lich Again, Crown pleads in Ottawa court

Laura Osman, The Canadian Press

Published Thursday, May 19, 2022 4:25 PM EDT

Last updated on Thursday, May 19, 2022 5:47 PM EDT

OTTAWA – A prosecutor on Thursday argued that Tamara Lich, an organizer of the Freedom Convoy, violated her bail conditions by accepting an award for her leadership during the protest in Ottawa.

A judge initially denied Lich bail after her arrest during the massive protest that took place in central Ottawa in February for more than three weeks, but she was released in March following a review of the court’s decision.

Lich and fellow protest organizer Chris Barber are jointly charged with mischief, obstructing the police, advising others to commit mischief and intimidation.

She was released on a long list of conditions, including a ban on all social media and an order to “not support anything with regard to the Freedom Convoy”.

The Crown says Lich violated one of her bail conditions by agreeing to accept a “freedom prize” from the Justice Center for Constitutional Freedoms, a legal advocacy group that supported the protest.

The organization planned to honor her at a gala for inspiring “Canadians to exercise their charter rights and freedoms by actively participating in the democratic process,” and to lead the “Freedom Convoy” protest in Ottawa.

That protest evolved into a weeklong demonstration that put the streets of Ottawa into a deadlock. The federal government eventually invoked the Emergencies Act for the first time in Canadian history in an attempt to evict the participants.

“Mrs. Lich has suffered for the cause of freedom by serving 18 days unjustly in prison, and is an example of courage, determination and perseverance,” the organization wrote in a statement on its website, which the Crown said in its notification. of application.

Lich told the court she learned she had won the award for her leading role in the protest in an email on March 28, replying that she would be honored to accept.

“You supported something related to the Freedom Convoy,” Crown attorney Moiz Karimjee said when Lich took the position by videoconference.

“Yes, I think so,” Lich told the court, but said she didn’t feel it was a violation of her terms.

“I don’t feel like there’s recognition for that. I think the recognition is intended to inspire Canadians to hold the government accountable to the rule of law and to uphold their Charter rights.”

She also told the court that there is no more convoy.

Karimjee argued in court that Lich should go back to jail to wait on her trail.

The website said Lich would attend the award dinner in Toronto on June 16, if a revision of her bail conditions allowed her, as well as events in Vancouver and Calgary.

The Toronto event is expected to feature a keynote address from columnist Rex Murphy.

Over the course of the arguments, the judge repeatedly admonished the Crown for his “decorum,” until Karimjee made the extraordinary request of Ontario Supreme Court Kevin Phillips to withdraw himself from the hearing.

“Frankly, I have to consider whether to file an annulment given the Your Honor’s comments,” Karimjee said before asking the judge to withdraw from the hearing and telling the court he was just doing his job.

“That request is denied,” Phillips replied.

Despite the tense exchange between the Crown and Justice Phillips, Lich seemed much more relaxed than during previous hearings, when she’d sat up straight with her land in her lap.

On Thursday, she appeared slumped in her chair with her arm hanging over her back, sucking on lozenges to relieve a sore throat.

During the protest, Keith Wilson, an attorney for the Justice Center for Constitutional Freedoms, spoke on behalf of the convoy protesters at a press conference and described Lich as a client. He represented Lich and other members of the protest during civil proceedings in February that banned the noise from their trucks day and night by protesters in the early days of the demonstration.

“Tamara Lich should be detained,” concludes the Crown.

Lich’s attorney, Lawrence Greenspon, disputed the idea that the award gala was related to the protest. He said the event does not appear to be a fundraiser for the protest movement.

Ottawa Sgt. Mahad Hassan told the court that Lich had not been arrested for the alleged offense, although police found they had the grounds, after speaking with the Crown on May 3.

Police and the Crown decided instead to address the issue at the scheduled bail hearing.

Meanwhile, Lich’s lawyers plan to argue that her bail terms are too restrictive and should be reconsidered.

Greenspon told the court on Thursday that the social media ban imposed on Lich was unnecessarily broad and had a huge impact on her life while she is out of custody.

He said she wants to connect with her 94-year-old grandmother and communicate with her friends and family through social media.

The hearing is expected to continue Friday.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on May 19, 2022.

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