Skip to main content

Tamara Lich, one of the main organizers of the protests that blockaded Ottawa for three weeks, appears in court in Ottawa on Feb. 22.JANE ROSENBERG/Reuters

An organizer who had a key role in the truck blockade in the core of the nation’s capital has been denied bail, and some police checkpoints remain in place to prevent further demonstrations.

During a bail hearing on Tuesday, Ontario Court Justice Julie Bourgeois said evidence showed that Tamara Lich was “one of the leaders of at least a group of people who obstructed, interrupted and interfered with the lawful use, enjoyment or operation of property in the downtown core of Ottawa by blocking and occupying streets.”

Ms. Lich, a founding member of the separatist Maverick Party from Medicine Hat, Alta., who started the GoFundMe page for what protesters call the Freedom Convoy 2022, appeared in court wearing a surgical mask and a dark jacket. Among the evidence presented to the court by the Crown were videos of Ms. Lich urging protesters to “hold the line” even if she was arrested.

Justice Bourgeois said there was a “substantial risk” that Ms. Lich would reoffend if she was released, and that she would not follow a court order to stop the illegal activity she is accused of committing.

“If you continue this behaviour, it will endanger the protection and safety of the public,” she said.

While Justice Bourgeois acknowledged Ms. Lich does not have a criminal record, she said Ms. Lich’s recent behaviour in Ottawa shows that her “detention is necessary for the protection or safety of the public.”

“I am satisfied there’s a substantial likelihood that you will, if released from custody, commit a criminal offence, more specifically, continue to behave or to counsel behaviour that willfully obstructs, interrupts or interferes with the lawful use enjoyment or operation of property,” she said.

Ms. Lich, who was arrested on Thursday, faces several charges, including mischief and interfering with the lawful use and operation of property.

“You are certainly facing a potentially lengthy term of imprisonment,” Justice Bourgeois said. “This community has already been impacted enough by some of the criminal activity, the blockades you took part in and even led. You have had plenty of opportunity to remove yourself and even others from this criminal activity, but obstinately chose not to and persistently counselled others not to either.”

Ms. Lich is due to appear in court again on March 2. Lawyer Diane Magas said on Tuesday that she is preparing a bail review application on behalf of Ms. Lich.

A bail hearing for another convoy leader, Pat King, who livestreamed his own arrest, also took place on Tuesday, but Justice of the Peace Andrew Seymour did not make a decision. The matter was adjourned until Friday afternoon.

Mr. King is charged with mischief, counselling to commit the offence of disobeying a court order and counselling to obstruct police.

Mr. King, 44, who is from Red Deer, Alta., appeared at the Ottawa courthouse wearing a grey hooded sweatshirt and pants. His COVID-19 surgical mask was often around his chin during the hearing.

During the proceedings, the Crown cross-examined Kerry Komix, who said she came from Alberta to the capital with Mr. King as part of the convoy. She has offered to be his surety. Mr. King blew a kiss.

Separate from Tuesday’s bail hearing, Ottawa lawyer Paul Champ confirmed that Mr. King was served notice of a proposed class-action lawsuit on Tuesday at the Ottawa courthouse. Mr. Champ has been representing central-Ottawa residents in the proposed court action against protest organizers.

Demonstrations in Ottawa were brought to an end on Sunday through significant police enforcement. Protesters in the city’s core were largely cleared out on Saturday. On Sunday, police swept through a logistics camp a few kilometres east of the downtown. On Tuesday, police were maintaining a security perimeter around the core and on Parliament Hill to prevent new blockades.

Some protesters have decamped to a private property in Vankleek Hill, east of Ottawa, to “regroup.” On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said other protesters had also gone to nearby Arnprior and Embrun, Ont., and showed a “desire or an openness” to return to the blockades.

Despite the end of the blockades, Mr. Trudeau said the risk of more protests is the reason the government is maintaining the Canada-wide state of emergency declared last week. The House of Commons approved the use of the Emergencies Act on Monday. The decision was opposed by the official opposition Conservatives, who have challenged the Prime Minister to explain the conditions for lifting the emergency declaration.

Mr. Trudeau has not outlined what needs to change for the government to end the declaration, but he reiterated on Tuesday that it will be done “as soon as possible.”

The use of the Emergencies Act was debated on Tuesday in the Senate, which is expected to vote on the matter later this week.

The House of Commons finance committee held a hearing on Tuesday in which senior federal officials provided an update on the use of the financial powers under the Emergencies Act, which was invoked early last week in response to the protests in Ottawa and at border crossings.

The hearings focused primarily on an aspect of the law that gives financial institutions the power to freeze the bank accounts of people who are involved in illegal protests. Conservative MPs had expressed concern that the measures could be used to freeze the assets of individuals who had innocently made small donations to the protests.

Isabelle Jacques, an assistant deputy minister in the Finance Department, said about 206 accounts were frozen, covering a total value of about $7.8-million.

Ms. Jacques noted that the total number of people affected is less than 206, given that some people could have more than one account frozen. She also said financial institutions started to unfreeze accounts this week. She also stressed that any donation that took place before the act was invoked on Feb. 15 would not be affected.

“Certainly they were not captured because there’s no retroactivity,” she said. She also said that while it is possible someone who made a small donation of $20 or $50 could be affected, that is unlikely.

“In our discussion with financial entities that we had in the past week, certainly that was not the target of the activities,” she said. “Is it possible that somebody was captured? It’s always possible because the order provides for it, but I doubt that we’d have many of those cases.”

The RCMP released a statement on Monday that said the list provided to financial institutions included the identities of individuals “who were influencers in the illegal protest in Ottawa, and owners and/or drivers of vehicles who did not want to leave the area. …” The police also said that “at no time, did we provide a list of donors to financial institutions.”

For subscribers: Get exclusive political news and analysis by signing up for the Politics Briefing.