The two organizers of the 2022 Freedom Convoy in Ottawa, Chris Barber and Lich, are facing charges of mischief intimidation, obstruction of police, and counselling others to commit mischief, intimidation, and obstruction of police. The charges are in relation to their roles in organizing a peaceful demonstration against government decrees and lockdown measures implemented to combat the spread of COVID-19.
During the 24th day of the trial, Justice Heather Perkins-McVey ruled that a five-page document, initially redacted by the prosecution, should be fully disclosed to the defence teams. The document is related to the loss of data on the work phones of two Ottawa Police Service (OPS) officers. These officers, Consts. Nicole Bach and Isabelle Cyr, were invited as witnesses by the prosecution and were involved in communication and coordination with Barber during the Freedom Convoy demonstration.
The document, which had inadvertently come into the possession of the Crown, was initially claimed by the prosecution as not being theirs to disclose. The defence argued that the Crown’s possession of the document made it subject to first-party disclosure requirements. The judge ultimately agreed with the Crown that the document maintained third-party status. However, she also determined that it was relevant to the case and should be fully disclosed to the defence teams.
Another document in question is an email chain between OPS Police Liaison Team (PLT) officers. The prosecution redacted the email chain, claiming solicitor-client privilege over its contents. The defence lawyers argued that the email chain does not include any lawyers and, therefore, does not fall under solicitor-client privilege.
Judge Perkins-McVey refrained from ruling on this specific disclosure dispute, stating that she needed more time for careful consideration due to the sacrosanct and complex nature of solicitor-client privilege. She acknowledged that there have been instances where this privilege was applied to communications that did not directly involve lawyers.
Lawrence Greenspon, Lich’s defence counsel, expressed his hope that the judge would make a prompt decision regarding the disclosure dispute over the email chain. He emphasized that he and his counterpart, Diane Magas, representing Chris Barber, preferred not to proceed with cross-examination until the judge determines the disclosure of information from the email chain.
The trial of Barber and Lich continues as they face charges related to their involvement in organizing the Freedom Convoy demonstration. The disclosure disputes regarding the two documents, the loss of data on the OPS officers’ work phones, and the email chain between PLT officers remain unresolved pending the judge’s decision.