EXCLUSIVE: Ottawa tried to 'freeze out' Freedom truckers by preventing them from idling trucks in low temperatures

"Was the intention of the bylaw to freeze out the protesters?"


The trial of the Freedom truckers in Ottawa revealed on Friday that the enactment of a city bylaw prohibitting truckers from idling their engines at temperatures above -15 degrees Celcius was meant to "freeze out" the protesters.

This came during the testimony of chief of staff to former Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson on Friday at the trial of Freedom Convoy leaders Tamara Lich and Chris Barber.

"Was the intention of the bylaw to freeze out the protesters?" asked defense counsel Lawrence Greenspon on Day 13 of the trial. 

"I believe that would be the outcome," Serge Arpin told the court. 

Watson was a vocal critic of the Freedom Convoy and asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to intervene in the protest – as Greenspon reminded the court Friday. Watson was particularly upset when truckers erected "bouncy castles" that their children could use for playtime.

Beth Baisch covered the Freedom Convoy protests for The Post Millennial, and captured footage of the contentious "bouncy castles."

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 roll back Covid mandates across Canada.

Greenspon told The Post Millennial that he is dismayed over how "slowly the trial is proceeding, noting that the trial has yet to arrive at  "first base."

"This trial has been set for 16 days. We have completed 13 days and four witnesses of the Crown's intended 27 witnesses. We are a long way from even getting to first base."

During an afternoon scrum with reporters outside of the courthouse, Greenspon expanded on how the city bylaw affected the Freedom Convoy protest and why he raised it with the prosecution's witness.

"I've got to say that the purpose was to demonstrate that in the middle of the demonstration on February 9, City Council of Ottawa passed a bylaw to reduce the temperature at which the truckers could idle their cars and stay warm in the middle of winter," Greenspon told the media.

"So the example I put to Mr. Arpin was: so that the truckers could idle their cars as long as it was below -15 degrees. But, as an example, at -14 they wouldn't be able to idle their trucks in order to stay warm, for them to stay warm or their partner or their children to stay warm."

"It's clear – and I think the witness finally acknowledged – the bylaw was directed at the demonstrators in the demonstration zone and was an attempt to freeze them out," Greenspon said.

Greenspon has requested that the judge consider not allowing the prosecution to call eight Ottawa residents to the stand because he said there testimony is largely second-hand and hearsay. He argued that their testimony does not add to the prosecution's case, adds unnecessary time to the trial and will necessitate the defense potentially calling more witnesses to counter the Crown's claims.

Judge Heather Perkins-McVey said she would rule on the matter before Sept. 29. The trial has recessed until Oct. 11. 

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