Court to weigh in on convoy-related group’s right to stay in Ottawa heritage building

Court to weigh in on convoy-related group's right to stay in Ottawa heritage building
Protesters sit outside a building occupied by members of The United People of Canada in Ottawa Friday, Sept. 2, 2022.

A dispute between an Ottawa landlord and a group loosely associated with the “Freedom Convoy” protest in Ottawa last winter will be sorted out by a judge.

The group of people referring to themselves as The United Peoples of Canada, or TUPOC, took up residence in a deconsecrated church east of downtown Ottawa this summer.

Patrick McDonald, the owner of the old church building, has attempted to evict the group, alleging they haven’t paid rent for the last two months or lived up to the terms of their purchase agreement to buy the building.

The dispute has reached cartoonish proportions, with TUPOC members defending the property with water guns while dressed in red capes and dish gloves.

At one point in the standoff, William Komer, a member of the group’s board of directors, addressed protesters dressed in a crown made of duct tape or aluminum foil, brandishing a sceptre made of garbage.

He referred to himself as Lord William of Lowertown, allegedly long lost nephew of Lord Buckethead, of a long line of a Intergalactic Space Lords, Keeper of the Comedy, and Shepherd of the Haters.

In court Friday, Komer, who eschewed the cape and crown in favour of a shirt and tie, asked the justice to adjourn the eviction hearing because they weren’t given as much notice as required.

Superior Court Justice Sally Gomery gave TUPOC just over two weeks to prepare their case, but vowed she will introduce order to the situation.

In the meantime, she said TUPOC members must not harass other tenants or the landlord and must allow the bailiffs to post notices on the door as needed.

She also said the property owners can’t harass TUPOC either.

“That’s just consistent with the norms of civilized behaviour that we expect of everyone,” Gomery told the court.

McDonald and his lawyer Gordon Douglas, said outside of court Friday that TUPOC members have been harassing other tenants in the area.

McDonald called the group’s leaders the “water pistol brigade” and allege they’ve broken into a locked garage and taken the contents.

For his part, Komer denies harassing anyone and said there is no plan for TUPOC to vacate the church or change their behaviour as a result of the court order.

“We’re going to be staying here,” he said, adding that they’ve raised lots of capital from people who sympathize with their plight.

Clayton Goodwin, CEO of Veterans Accountability Commission, said several members of the community see the group’s presence in Ottawa as a continuation of the Freedom Convoy.

“It’s the same group, everyone is linked,” he said at a small protest of about 10 people outside the church Friday, holding a sign that read “Armour of God or Armour of Fraud.”

“We just want to say, you’re not welcome in our city,” he said, accusing the group of being a grift.

The eviction hearing is expected to resume Sept. 19.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 2, 2022.

Laura Osman, The Canadian PressLaura Osman, The Canadian Press

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