Ottawa convoy organizer Tamara Lich submitted an affidavit in court as part of a bail review, saying she was unaware a judge who denied her release was a former Liberal candidate. Had she known, she said, she would have asked her lawyer to request the recusal of the judge.
Ms. Lich’s affidavit also said the convoy protests at the heart of the charges she is facing included expressions of discontent with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Ontario Justice Julie Bourgeois, who presided over Ms. Lich’s bail hearing, ran for the federal Liberals in the 2011 election campaign in the Ontario riding of Glengarry-Prescott-Russell.
Ms. Lich, from Medicine Hat, organized the GoFundMe page for the convoy protest. She is a former member of the governing council of the separatist Maverick Party in Alberta.
Ms. Lich testified to contents of her affidavit on Wednesday morning in an Ottawa courtroom. During cross-examination of Ms. Lich, Crown lawyer Moiz Karimjee noted that Justice Bourgeois released fellow convoy protest organizer Chris Barber. On Feb. 18, Justice Bourgeois granted Mr. Barber bail and ordered him to leave Ottawa in 24 hours.
“I don’t know the particulars of Mr. Barber’s case,” Ms. Lich said. “I can’t really speak to that. I can only speak to how I would have felt had I had that information prior to the hearing.”
Mr. Karimjee also asked Ms. Lich if she was implying that Justice Bourgeois was biased against her.
“With the rhetoric and the language that came from some members of the Liberal Party of Canada, including the leader of the party, I would have definitely felt uncomfortable had I known that beforehand,” Ms. Lich replied.
Mr. Karimjee said Wednesday that the matter is about the rule of law, not the Prime Minister.
Ms. Lich, who was wearing a surgical mask mandated at the court because of pandemic restrictions, faces several charges, including mischief and interfering with the lawful use and operation of property.
Court was adjourned on Wednesday without a decision on the bail review. Proceedings are to resume on Monday.
During the bail hearing last week, Justice Bourgeois said evidence showed Ms. 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.”
Justice Bourgeois also said while Ms. Lich does not have a criminal record, the convoy organizer’s behaviour in Ottawa showed her “detention is necessary for the protection or safety of the public.”
On Wednesday, Ms. Lich’s lawyer, Diane Magas, said it was an “error of law” to suggest there is a danger to the public when there was no “suggestion of violence, intimidation, threats, damage, destruction of property, of any sorts by Ms. Lich, or even her encouraging such activities.” There is nothing to suggest Ms. Lich would not obey a court order, Ms. Magas added.
Pat King, an outspoken leader of the convoy, was denied bail on Friday. Justice of the Peace Andrew Seymour said evidence from the Crown painted a “portrait of an individual who has clear intention to continue his protest and is indifferent to the consequences.” He also described “significant frailties” in a proposed bail plan.
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson and Ottawa interim police chief Steve Bell have described what took place in the city as an “occupation.”
Last week, Mr. Watson ended a state of emergency declared on Feb. 6.
Demonstrations in Ottawa were also part of why Mr. Trudeau invoked the never-before-used Emergencies Act. On Feb.14, Mr. Trudeau said it was a “last resort” taken in response to prolonged demonstrations in downtown Ottawa and blockades at border crossings in Alberta, Manitoba and British Columbia.
The act’s powers are triggered as soon as it is invoked, but its provisions require that a vote on its use be held in the Commons within seven days. During that vote, which took place on Feb. 21, NDP and Liberal MPs voted in favour of using the act, while the Conservatives and Bloc Québécois voted against.
Last week, Mr. Trudeau said the federal government was ending the use of the act because it had been assured police had sufficient tools to deal with any further challenges. An inquiry will be held into the act’s use and a special review committee of parliamentarians will also conduct an examination.
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