The prosecution in the trial of Freedom Convoy figures Tamara Lich and Chris Barber admitted Wednesday that the anti-Covid mandate protest was “not violent.”
“We’re not saying that the Freedom Convoy was violent,” crown attorney Siobhain Wetscher told the court.
Wetscher said the Crown is arguing that there are “limitations to all of those [constitutional] rights” such as freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.
“The actions of the demonstrators were curtailed by the Criminal Code because those were limitations.”
The lawyer merely referred to the protest as “not peaceful.”
At this point, Judge Heather Perkins-McVey interjected, “But what we have is two people on trial and I think that’s an important distinction”
Earlier in day 30 of the trial, defense attorney Diane Magas presented evidence to the court and argued that both Lich and Barber had a constitutional right to continue their peaceful protest of the COVID-19 mandates even after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act.
The pair are charged with mischief, counseling others to commit mischief, intimidation, and obstructing police as leaders of the Freedom Convoy that polarized residents of Ottawa in 2022 and arguably began to roll back Covid mandates.
Magas referenced the Emergencies Act legislation – that effectively imposes martial law on an area defined by the federal government – and noted that lawful protests are still allowed under the law.
“So lawful protest is in there as an exception to the implementation of the Emergencies Act. That's a very key factor."
The lawyer said it was irrelevant whether an agreement forged between the Freedom Convoy organizers and the police to move vehicles from the downtown core of Ottawa took effect before or after the invocation of the act.
She also continued to dispute the prosecution’s charge that Lich and Barber worked in concert and were “co-conspirators.”
On Tuesday, the prosecution attempted to prove that Lich’s rallying cry of “Hold the line” was somehow an invitation to commit a criminal act.
Eric Granger, who along with Lawrence Greenspon is representing Lich, argued the phrase had nothing to do with telling people to disobey the orders of police but everything to do with encouraging demonstrators in the face of overwhelming odds.
Granger noted that Ottawa police also used the phrase during the January to February 2022 protest.
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