On March 7, 2022, Ontario Superior Court Justice John M. Johnston released Tamara Lich from prison where she had served the past 18 days. Tamara Lich is one of the fundraising organizers for the Freedom Trucker Convoy, which peacefully protested in Ottawa against ongoing violations of the… charter Canadian Rights and Freedoms.
Ms. Lich is a mother and grandmother from Medicine Hat, Alberta and works in oil and gas administration. She was arrested in Ottawa on February 17 and charged with violating the law criminal code Section 464 for advising on mischief: the hindrance, disruption and impairment of the use and enjoyment of property. Ms. Lich’s arrest on February 17 was invalid because Section 464 applies only to situations where someone advises another person to commit a crime and the crime is not committed. If the crime advised is actually committed, Section 464 does not apply and the “adviser” may instead be charged with aiding and abetting under Section 21 of the Criminal Code criminal code. But the truckers’ alleged crimes, if inconvenience to some Ottawa residents was indeed a crime, had taken place. Therefore, the offense (if any) had been committed, and therefore Section 464 might not have applied to Ms. Lich.
It seems that the police realized their mistake and the illegality of the arrest. The following day, while Ms. Lich was already in jail, police charged her with willfully obstructing, disrupting or interfering with the lawful use, enjoyment or operation of property contrary to Section 430(1)(c) of the Act criminal code. Ms Lich didn’t have a truck with her in Ottawa, so it will be difficult for the crown to prove she obstructed, interrupted or intervened.
After five nights in jail, Ms Lich was refused bail on February 22 by Judge Julie Bourgeois, a Liberal candidate in the 2011 federal election. Judge Bourgeois’ decision to leave Tamara Lich in prison was highly unusual, given that Ms. Lich has no criminal record and has not been charged with a violent crime. People accused of drug trafficking, possession of illegal firearms and violent crimes are routinely granted freedom before trial.
Judge Bourgeois alleged that Ms. Lich was facing a lengthy prison sentence and used this allegation as a reason to keep Ms. Lich in prison. The judge’s claim was far from reality given that those who took part in violent protests at the 2010 G20 summit in Toronto were given light sentences for deliberately destructive rampages, damage to businesses and the risk of injury to bystanders. Richard Morano was one of the people identified as causing extensive property damage to multiple businesses, vandalizing a police vehicle and injuring a police officer in that vehicle. However, the willful willful destruction of public and private property only earned him seven months in prison.
Given the lenient sentences handed down to actually violent protesters in Toronto, how much jail time can the truckers realistically face for what they did in Ottawa in February: waving Canadian and Quebec flags, feeding the homeless, picking up trash, singing the national anthem sing, dance in the street and set up bouncy castles for children? The idea that Tamara Lich ever faced a lengthy prison sentence is absurd, but this was one of the reasons Justice Bourgeois kept Ms. Lich in prison for more than two weeks.
In a free and democratic society, opponents of government can criticize laws, policies and politicians without fear of arrest, imprisonment or losing access to their bank accounts. Under the rule of law, dissidents have nothing to fear from the authorities as long as the dissident is peaceful.
In contrast, the imprisonment of opposition politicians (and other opponents of the regime) is a tool routinely employed by tyrants to punish dissent worldwide and has been for centuries. Therefore, organizations like Amnesty International were formed to counteract the injustice of imprisoning people for “wrong” political views. Whether the regime could be described as communist, fascist, theocratic, or a corrupt banana republic was irrelevant.
On July 1, 2021, protesters in Winnipeg proudly and publicly demolished and toppled a statue of Queen Victoria while police stood by and looked on. The vandals have not been charged or arrested for their apparent criminal conduct, namely damaging or destroying property in violation of Section 430 criminal code Section that Tamara Lich and other truckers are now tasked with. What explains this differential treatment, apart from the political bias on the part of authorities who reject the rule of law? The same double standard was evident in 2020, when anti-racism protesters flouted public health edicts banning large gatherings: These protests were sanctioned by politicians and health officials, with Prime Minister Trudeau taking an active part in one of them.
The emergency law was not even considered, let alone applied, when protesters shut down rail lines in BC, Ontario and Quebec in February and March 2020 on “negotiated strategy” noting that the Canadian government is not telling police what to do operationally, and that the police services are under provincial or municipal control.Unless the protesters are in Ottawa and their cause is the restoration of the charter rights and freedoms that were taken from us in March 2020: then we have a national emergency.
As one of the Freedom Convoy fundraisers, Tamara Lich was arrested on dubious charges and sentenced to 18 days in prison. No one can be accused of regarding her as a political prisoner, jailed for holding the “wrong” political views and not because of the tenuous charges against her. The Supreme Court ruled R. v. Antique This bail should only be denied to those who have a significant likelihood of committing an offense endangering public safety. But when it comes to a vocal opponent of the regime, the banana republic of Canada cares little what the Supreme Court might say about the presumption of innocence and how it applies to those who have not been convicted of a crime.
Ms. Lich is out of prison and on her way back to Alberta, but is only partially free. Her bail conditions include not protesting, not using social media, and not letting anyone post on her behalf. They are obviously in breach of these terms charter Freedom of expression, association and assembly. Ms. Lich has no criminal record. She has consistently and repeatedly urged protesters to be peaceful and respectful. She poses no threat to public safety. There is no rationale to justify the imposition of these severe restrictions on her right as a Canadian citizen to exercise her charter freedoms.
Attorney John Carpay is President of the Justice Center for Constitutional Liberties (jccf.ca), which provides legal assistance and representation to Tamara Lich and other Freedom Convoy protesters.