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CONVOY TRIAL DIARY: DAY THREE
Crown Evidence Also Documents the Success of the Convoy Protest
Seen outside the Ottawa Court of Justice
The prosecution of Chris Barber and Tamara Lich for their roles in the trucker convoy protests at times feels unsettling. Is it a microcosm of how our institutions and systems haven’t come to terms with what many people, outside the laptop bubble, are experiencing. Like forcing vaccination with an experimental product on healthy people or enabling a child’s psychic confusion with pharmaceuticals and surgery, the trial is a process but to what purpose? Where does this lead?
As I watched a series of Chris Barber’s TikTok videos unspool on courtroom screens yesterday, I was pulled back to those first days of the convoy when my faith in my fellow Canadians was restored. I had been concerned that the running of the country had been handed to public health bureaucrats, that our elected officials had stepped away and were no longer in charge. That media was not holding to account the people they should. Risk/benefit calculations had not been run and it was becoming clear the cure was worse than the disease. No matter how esteemed the expert witnesses, courts were not finding in favour of people challenging the government’s civil liberties overreach as we faced lockdown after lockdown and a mandated shot.
In the TikToks, we see Barber reacting to what the convoy had achieved and it made me smile for a minute recollecting those weeks of hope. Sitting almost directly in front of me, I watched him for a reaction but saw only a focussed man jotting notes in rapt attention.
The short videos and other social media seem to be making up a large part of the Crown’s case which involves proving mischief and the counselling of same — something Tim Radcliffe will likely argue the videos show. But that’s not what I saw. No one in that courtroom could walk away without noticing how well Barber comes off. He veers between imploring the protestors to be peaceful, to frustration at the government’s intransigence, to astonishment over the convoy’s successful fundraising campaign — a measure of how Canadians perceived the protest. And perhaps its downfall. Don’t forget it was the former mayor of Ottawa who convinced Go Fund Me to shut down the convoy account based on false allegations the truckers were violent. From Blacklock’s:
The proceedings have been plagued by organizational issues and technical glitches but so far it’s been cordial between all parties. Justice Heather Perkins-McVey even addressed the gallery Thursday morning to inquire if we could see and hear the video monitors well enough to follow along. I raised my hand and asked if they could be raised higher and she acknowledge that this a problem but not fixable. As I’ve said, she seems affable and fair. All good things in a criminal court justice.
Back to the videos — from the Ottawa Citizen:
Convoy protest organizer Chris Barber called for people to “flood the city” in a social media video that was shown Thursday in court as part of his criminal trial in Ottawa.
The Crown hopes his rallying call for people to come to Ottawa last year as police ordered protesters to leave may prove just as damaging to his fellow organizer, Tamara Lich as they could potentially be to Barber.
Barber, who operated a trucking business in Swift Current, Sask., and Lich, from Medicine Hat, Alta., are co-accused in the trial. They face charges of mischief, counselling others to commit mischief, intimidation, and obstructing police, all in relation to their roles organizing the protest against COVID-19 health restrictions last year that blockaded downtown Ottawa streets for weeks.
Barber faces an additional charge of counselling others to disobey a court order that banned the big rigs and other vehicles parked in the streets in protest, from honking their horns in the downtown core.
In the end, no matter what the outcome, this trial will be seen as a referendum on a citizen’s right to peacefully protest in the face of what they perceive as a grave and even life-threatening injustice.
There will be a motion to dismiss from the convoy lawyers at some point.
Just about to record this week’s podcast and then back to court.
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