Lawyers for Tamara Lich and Chris Barber put Crown Counsel Tim Radcliffe on alert Tuesday as both said they will not tolerate the Freedom Convoy protest being called "an occupation."
Lich and Barber 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 February 2022 and arguably began to rollback Covid-19 mandates.
When asked why he so strongly objected to the use of the word occupation, Lich's lawyer, Lawrence Greenspon, told The Post Millennial. "It's a ridiculous characterization. It's complete hyperbole and absolutely unnecessary."
Tamara Lich lawyer Lawrence Greenspon leaves the Ontario Provincial Courthouse in Ottawa during the lunch break on the first day of the Freedom Convoy trial, Sept. 5, 2023.
The courtroom was packed full of media and Freedom Convoy supporters. Speaking to TPM before the trial began, Lich said she could not comment on the trial itself at this time but allowed that she was "ready for the long month ahead" and said she was confident in ultimate victory.
Justice Heather Perkins-McVey is the presiding judge. Her first order of business was to secure a second large-screen television in order to ensure everyone could view the video evidence.
Crown counsel Radcliffe in his opening statement called the Freedom Convoy protest "anything but peaceful" and insisted the trial was not about the political beliefs of Lich and Barber but was focused on "the means" that both used to achieve their goals.
The Crown plans to call 22 witnesses, including former Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, who repeatedly blasted the Freedom Convoy for setting up "bouncy castles" for the children of protesters to use.
Chris Barber exits courthouse during lunch break.
A video played by the Crown on Tuesday showed a peaceful protest and one lane of traffic open into the city of Ottawa on the first day of the protest in late January 2022.
Much of the morning was spent on routine legal housekeeping as both the prosecution and defense discussed how testimony would unfold over the expected 16-day trial.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau refused to meet with any of the Freedom Convoy protesters during their protest in Ottawa. The protesters were a multi-racial group of truckers and others opposed to the Covid-19 mandates that forced many people to get the vaccine in order to work.
Trudeau characterized the group as racists and misogynists. "There is a small fringe minority in this country that is lashing out with racist, misogynist attacks. The vast majority of Canadians aren't represented by them," he said at the time.
He invoked the draconian Emergencies Act on Feb. 14 – martial law legislation that had not been used since its creation in 1988.
The trial continues Wednesday.
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