Defense team says there is no evidence to support conspiracy between ‘Freedom Convoy’ organizers

There is no evidence to suggest that Tamara Lich and another organizer of the “Freedom Convoy” should be considered co-conspirators in court because their actions were not illegal, her defense team said Tuesday in a file filed in court.

The Crown completed its case against Lich and Chris Barber on Monday.

The two men are co-charged with mischief and intimidation, among other charges related to the ma*sive protest against COVID-19 restrictions that shut down downtown Ottawa for weeks in 2022.

The Crown heard weeks of testimony in court about the disruptive nature of the protest, which blocked roads and filled the city center with blaring horns and the smell of diesel.

Thousands of protesters, including a convoy of trucks, took to the streets surrounding Parliament Hill and protest organizers said they would not leave until their demands to end COVID vaccination mandates were met. 19 would not have been satisfied.

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The Crown also released several hours of social media videos posted by Lich and Barber, from the start of the protests until the time of their arrest, in which they declared themselves leaders of the protest and documented their messages to protesters.

The Crown hopes to prove the two men conspired so closely that evidence against one of them should apply to the other, in what the court calls a Carter application.

Lich’s lawyers, including Lawrence Greenspon, have now filed their own motion asking the judge to drop the conspiracy allegations.

In a court filing, Lich’s lawyers say the Crown’s request should be dismissed because the Crown has not proven Lich and Barber agreed to protest COVID-19 mandates through illegal means .

“To the extent that the protesters had collective goals, they were not fundamentally unlawful,” Lich’s lawyers said in the court document.

While a murder or drug conspiracy is inherently illegal, Greenspon and his colleagues said going to Ottawa to protest COVID-19 mandates is not.

“Similarly, there is no evidence that any of the leaders of the 2022 Freedom Convoy agreed to pursue its goals through illegal activities,” the documents state.

The defense argues there is no direct evidence linking Lich to any of the alleged illegal activities complained about in downtown Ottawa during the protest.

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“There is nothing illegal about encouraging others to come or stay in Ottawa to legally protest. Lich does not encourage anyone to engage in illegal behavior at any time,” the attorneys say.

The Crown showed video evidence of a tearful Lich speaking to supporters during a livestream video the day before his arrest in Ottawa.

In the video, she encourages more people to come to Ottawa to stand with protesters, despite fears she is about to be arrested.

Tamara Lich arrives at the Ottawa courthouse on Friday, November 3, 2023. Lich’s defense team says there is no evidence to support that she and her fellow organizers of the ‘Freedom Convoy’ should be considered as conspirators in court, because their actions were not illegal.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

The Crown also repeatedly referred to Lich and Barber’s use of the phrase “hold the line” as they urged people to come to Ottawa and stay, even as police ordered protesters to leave the streets of the city center.

She repeated these words as she was led out of the demonstration in handcuffs in the final days of the protest, before police carried out a ma*sive operation to end it.

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Crown prosecutor Tim Radcliffe argued in his opening statement that Lich and Barber didn’t just “hold on” during those three weeks in Ottawa, but that they “crossed the line and, in doing so, they committed multiple crimes.”

The two men “put pressure on decision makers” and exercised “control and influence” over where vehicles were parked, all in the name of achieving the political goal of ending health orders in pandemic cases such as vaccination mandates, Radcliffe said.

The defense argues in the court filing that it was never defined in court what exactly the phrase means to Lich or anyone else.

The Crown has not yet responded to Lich’s request in court.

&copy 2023 The Canadian Press

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