The Ottawa City Council was accused of trying to marginalize truckers and their families by Lawrence Greenspon, defence counsel for Tamara Lich, during her ongoing trial in Ottawa, Ontario. Lich, along with co-defendant Chris Barber, is facing charges of mischief, intimidation, obstructing police, and counselling others to commit mischief and intimidation. These charges are related to their involvement in organizing the 2022 Freedom Convoy, a peaceful demonstration against government-imposed mandates and restrictions for public health purposes.
During the trial, Greenspon cross-examined Serge Arpin, former chief of staff for former Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, about a change made to a local bylaw regarding idling vehicles. Prior to 2022, the City of Ottawa allowed idling of vehicles when the outdoor temperature was five degrees Celsius or lower. However, during the Freedom Convoy, the city lowered the temperature required for idling to -15 degrees Celsius.
Arpin acknowledged during cross-examination that the city’s management was focused on putting an end to the demonstration and that the decision to change the bylaw was made within that context. He also admitted that the purpose of the bylaw change was to reduce the number of protesters participating in the Freedom Convoy.
The defence argued that the city’s actions were aimed at freezing out the truckers and their families who were part of the demonstration. Lawrence Greenspon stated that the bylaw change was a deliberate attempt to make it more difficult for the truckers to protest effectively.
The trial also included questioning of Arpin about his involvement in the city’s communications and negotiations with Keith Wilson, a lawyer acting as an intermediary between the city and the defendants. Arpin revealed that he had apologized to Wilson after the city effectively ended its negotiations with the defendants. He acknowledged that this was a failure on the city’s part to uphold “good faith” in the negotiations.
The trial has now been adjourned and will resume on October 13. This extended break will allow both the prosecution and defence to prepare their arguments for the next phase of the trial.
The allegations made by the defence raise concerns about the potential abuse of power by the Ottawa City Council and the degree to which they were willing to undermine the rights of citizens for their own political agenda. The outcome of this trial will have significant implications for the right to peaceful protest and the ability of individuals to challenge government actions they believe are unjust or unconstitutional.