Judge will hear conspiracy argument in trial of Freedom Convoy organizers

Judge will hear conspiracy argument in trial of Freedom Convoy organizers
Tamara Lich arrives to the Ottawa Courthouse in Ottawa on Friday, Nov. 3, 2023. An Ontario court judge says she will entertain arguments that

An Ontario court judge will entertain arguments that Freedom Convoy organizers Tamara Lich and Chris Barber acted as co-conspirators as part of their criminal trial, she announced in a decision Thursday.

The Crown intends to prove the two conspired together in lockstep to organize an illegal protest, and that evidence against one of them should apply to both.

Lich and Barber’s lawyers asked Justice Heather Perkins-McVey to dismiss the idea out of hand, arguing there was no evidence the two conspired together for an illegal purpose.

The two organizers face charges of mischief, intimidation and several charges related to counselling others to break the law in connection with their role in the Ottawa demonstration in early 2022.

There is enough circumstantial evidence to support hearing the Crown’s argument at the end of the trial, Perkins-McVey said Thursday.

“I agree with the defence that a plan to get the government to change its views with respect to various mandates is not necessarily unlawful,” she said in her decision.

“The issue, at this stage, is whether there is a reasonable inference that the means to do so are part of an unlawful common design.”

The convoy organizers listened to Perkins-McVey’s decision via videoconference Thursday.

Lich and Barber’s lawyers told the court last year that organizing a protest is not an illegal activity, and is protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Crown, however, argues that rights have limits, and that Lich and Barber helped to perpetuate an “occupation” of downtown Ottawa.

The weeks-long demonstration blockaded intersections around the parliamentary precinct as protesters entrenched themselves on nearby streets.

Lich and Barber’s trial began in September and was originally scheduled to finish on Oct. 13.

The trial has been on hiatus for most of the year so far, and is anticipated to continue well into 2024.

By Laura Osman.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 7, 2024.

The Canadian PressThe Canadian Press

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!