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Lawyer Lawrence Greenspon arrives with Tamara Lich at the courthouse on the first day of the trial of Ms. Lich and Chis Barber in Ottawa on Sept. 5.Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

A defence lawyer for Tamara Lich, the architect of the 2022 convoy protest that shut down central Ottawa for more than three weeks, said Wednesday that testimony in court has shown organizers made an effort to reduce the demonstration’s footprint in the nation’s capital, but were not allowed to do so by police.

Lawrence Greenspon, a prominent Ottawa attorney representing Ms. Lich during her trial on criminal charges stemming from the protest, told reporters outside the Ottawa Courthouse that evidence presented in court since the proceedings began on Tuesday is “quite clear” that the convoy was “very peaceful” in nature.

“The evidence speaks for itself,” he said. “You had thousands of people in the city for three weeks and they can’t point to a single incident of violence.”

Mr. Greenspon also said there were efforts on the part of the protesters to make an agreement with then-Ottawa mayor Jim Watson, under which they would have moved some of the big-rig trucks they were using to blockade the city’s core, concentrating them on Wellington Street, across from Parliament Hill. But he said testimony on Wednesday from Ottawa Police Inspector Russell Lucas, who served as an incident commander during the protest, showed that police officials would not agree to the plan.

Insp. Lucas was the second witness to give testimony at the criminal trial, in which Ms. Lich is facing charges alongside her fellow convoy organizer, Chris Barber.

Ms. Lich, from Medicine Hat, Alta., and Mr. Barber, from Swift Current, Sask., are both charged with mischief, obstructing police and intimidation. They are also charged with counselling others to commit each of those three offences.

During his testimony, Insp. Lucas described different levels of police co-operation with the convoy protesters at various points in the demonstration, including prior to their arrival in Ottawa.

He said the initial focus for police was managing the trucks that were coming, and mitigating their impact. Regardless of a protest’s message, he added, police must strike the “right balance” between allowing demonstrators to be heard and minimizing their effects on city life.

After the first weekend of demonstrations, Insp. Lucas said, about two-thirds of the protesters had departed. But the footprint of the demonstration remained the same. He described a plan, negotiated with the protesters, that would have resulted in vehicles migrating from other areas to Wellington Street.

“That never happened,” he said, adding that once the proposal was run up the chain of command, officers received direction to not give the protest “one inch.” This, he said, undermined the work of the Ottawa Police Service’s liaison team, who were trying to work with the protesters.

Insp. Lucas also said that as time went on protesters became “more volatile.” Police officers were being “swarmed” by crowds during enforcement actions, he said.

During cross-examination by Mr. Barber’s lawyer, Diane Magas, Insp. Lucas said he was not referring to any physical altercations between protesters and police.

The protest ultimately prompted one of the largest police responses in Canadian history.

On Feb. 14, 2022, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau decided to invoke the never-before-used Emergencies Act, which afforded the federal government sweeping powers. It used those powers to crack down on protesters, including by authorizing banks to freeze personal and corporate bank accounts without court orders. Police had largely cleared the protest from city streets by Feb. 19.

Mr. Greenspon said Wednesday outside the courthouse that a compilation video shown to the court the previous day by Ottawa Police Constable Craig Barlow, a witness for the prosecution, did not depict violence.

The 11-minute video included images of police attempting to advance on protesters who were refusing to move. It also showed congestion in Ottawa’s downtown core as a result of the big rigs on city streets.

On Tuesday, while cross-examining Constable Barlow, Ms. Magas asked why the video did not cover other aspects of the protest, such as people hugging or using a bouncy castle that had been installed on the site. Constable Barlow said he was not asked to include these things.

Crown prosecutors presented additional videos on Tuesday of protesters who were calling out “hold the line” while police tried to clear city streets. The Crown called this a rallying call of the convoy organizers.

Hold the Line is the title of Ms. Lich’s book about her role in the protest.

Prosecutor Tim Radcliffe told the court on Tuesday that protesters did hold the line, as directed by Ms. Lich and Mr. Barber. In doing so, he said, the pair “crossed the line” and committed crimes.

The court is expected to hear testimony on Thursday from another member of the Ottawa Police, Constable Isabelle Cyr, who was working as part of the liaison unit during the protest.

Ms. Lich and Mr. Barber’s trial is to run into October. It is being presided over by Justice Heather Perkins-McVey.

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