Court hears Freedom Convoy leaders cooperated when asked to move trucks out of downtown Ottawa – LifeSite

OTTAWA (LifeSiteNews) – On the 12th day of the trial for Freedom Convoy leaders Tamara Lich and Chris Barber, the court heard that tuckers agreed to move their rigs from downtown Ottawa only minutes after being asked to do so by the former chief of staff to the city’s mayor and after officials realized they were not a threat.

The trial on Thursday continued with testimony from Ottawa city manager Kim Ayotte, who on Wednesday admitted he saw protesters having an enjoyable time dancing in the streets, jumping in bouncy castles, and soaking in hot tubs, but these were “illegal” activities that required a permit.

In court on Thursday, Ayotte, who is the general manager of emergency and protective services, admitted that the “convoy participants upheld their end of the agreement (to leave downtown) and that it was the police who put an end to it,” as noted by The Democracy Fund (TDF), which is crowdfunding Lich’s legal costs, in its court update.

The court learned that Ayotte received a letter from lawyer Eva Chipiuk, who was helping Lich and Barber at the time, that was addressed to Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, outlining “safety measures taken during the protest.”

“Ayotte confirmed an agreement was made between the mayor and Tamara Lich and his involvement in planning the implementation of this agreement,” TDF said.

According to Ayotte, he produced maps during a February 13, 2022, planning meeting that showed alternative parking locations for the trucks. However, they were not shown to the court. At the meeting, a plan was discussed to move trucks onto “Wellington Street and some out of the city.”

The court then heard from Ayotte that on February 15, 2022, he saw about 102 convoy vehicles, or 25% of all trucks, comply with the agreement to leave.

Justice Heather Perkins-McVey asked why the maps were not shown in court, to which Ayotte responded that they were included in the Public Order Emergency Commission (POEC) hearing. The POEC was tasked last year with investigating Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s use of the Emergencies Act (EA) to crush the Freedom Convoy in mid-February 2022.

Ayotte denied that he told Ottawa Chief of Staff Serge Arpin that the city could accommodate many trucks present during the protests.

When Arpin took the stand later in the day, he testified that he sent an email to Lich in mid-February 2022, asking the convoy leaders to move their trucks as a “goodwill” measure.

The TDF noted that when Arpin was asked by the Crown about his email to Lich, he “stated that he received a response within 5-10 minutes, indicating that members of the convoy would strive to meet the terms of Mayor Watson’s letter.”

“However, Arpin admitted that he did not make subsequent observations to confirm whether the convoy members fulfilled their end of the agreement.” TDF said.

Arpin then testified that both he and Watson believed the Freedom Convoy protests “targeted the government of Canada, not the residents of Ottawa.”

“He stated that he was only interested in engaging with the moderate group of protesters, which appeared to include Lich and Barber. He further acknowledged that 102 vehicles were removed from residential areas as per the agreement letter with Mayor Watson,” TDF stated.

Lich and Barber are facing multiple charges from the 2022 protests, including mischief, counseling mischief, counseling intimidation and obstructing police for taking part in and organizing the anti-mandate Freedom Convoy. As reported by LifeSiteNews at the time, despite the non-violent nature of the protest and the charges, Lich was jailed for weeks before she was granted bail.

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