The prosecution has finished making its case in the trial of Tamara Lich and Chris Barber, organizers of the Freedom Convoy protest who face criminal charges for their actions during February 2022.
Originally slated for 16 days, the trial saw delays because of how Ottawa police collected and handed over evidence to prosecutors, as well as legal wrangling over the admissibility of specific evidence.
When the trial started in early September, the court dedicated 10 days for the Crown to make their case that Lich and Barber “crossed the line” into criminality, but the pace of proceedings slowed almost immediately and more time was added to the schedule.
Lich and Barber are on trial for charges of committing mischief, obstructing police, counselling others to commit mischief and intimidation for their roles in the protest.
The Crown is trying to establish the two had “control and influence” over the crowds and encouraged others to join the protests while also fundraising.
To do so, they showed videos showing the less peaceful side of the protest and brought in residents who detailed their negative experiences during the convoy.
The Crown also called several police officers as witnesses, including one who described the crowds as “hostile.” Another officer told the court protesters were originally approved to park in front of Parliament Hill on Wellington Street.
The Crown showed several social media posts gathered from Lich and Barber’s online profiles. They showed a Feb. 14 press conference where Lich promised the protest would stay peaceful even as the federal government was preparing to use the Emergencies Act to clear the streets.
“No matter what you do, we will hold the line,” Lich said in the video.
Crown prosecutors are relying on the videos to help demonstrate Lich and Barber had control and influence over the protest in their capacity as leaders.
The videos are being used as examples to show Lich encouraged supporters to stay in Ottawa despite being told by police to leave.
That includes when Lich again told protesters to “hold the line” as she was arrested on Feb. 17, three days after the Emergencies Act had been invoked.
A major police operation to clear the streets of protesters entirely began the following morning.
In a video taken from Barber’s TikTok account, he told truckers to “grab that horn switch” and “let it roll as long as possible” if police tried to dislodge them.
He tells supporters in another TikTok on Feb. 9 that, if a trucker is arrested and ordered to leave the city, they will be replaced “with three new truckers.”
The defence argues protesters were assisted by police, including by being directed how and where to go in downtown Ottawa.
Defence lawyers expect to introduce at least two motions pertaining to their defence this week, and court resumes Nov. 27 when the defence expects to begin entering its evidence.