OTTAWA, Ontario (LifeSiteNews) — On the eighth day of Freedom Convoy leaders Tamara Lich and Chris Barber’s trial, the court heard a Crown police witness say she did not keep a list of videos showing the protests despite being ordered to download the videos from a list she was given.
Sgt. Joanne Pilotte of the Ottawa Police Service continued her testimony Thursday on behalf of the Crown and was cross-examined during the last portions of the “voir dire,” or trial within a trial. This mini trial will determine whether certain social media posts will be allowed to be submitted as evidence to the court.
According to Pilotte, she was ordered by Detective Chris Benson of the Ottawa Police to collect video footage of the Freedom Convoy leaders on February 9-11, 2022, but was told not to “capture” anything after these dates.
However, Justice Heather Perkins-McVey reminded Pilotte she had already submitted a video from February 12 to the court, which she noted contradicts her statement about the dates.
Pilotte said in court that she did not “choose” which videos she was told to download but confirmed she was given a “list” of which ones to archive.
However, she then said she did not keep this “list,” and did not remember what happened to it. She was then told by Perkins-McVey to leave the room.
The judge asked the defense if they had asked Benson if he had a copy of the list, to which defence attorney Marwa Younes said they did ask him, but he said he “doesn’t remember” appointing Pilotte with the task to compile the list.
Perkins-McVey then observed, “You would think if she was tasked with something, they would keep a record.” She then said she would “leave it at that.”
When Pilotte returned to the court, she testified that she did not make any “notes” about the list.
When the defense showed TikTok videos of the Freedom Convoy leaders, in which many show them calling for calm and “peace” during the protests, to Pilotte, she said she had seen them but did not “download” these to her list.
Perkins-McVey asked Pilotte if Benson told her to collect additional videos after February 12, to which she replied, “I don’t believe so.”
The judge replied that this is “all the more reason to have the list from Benson.”
Perkins-McVey then requested that Pilotte’s notes she was using to refresh [her] memory” should be entered as an official exhibit to the court.
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 granted bail.
In early 2022, the Freedom Convoy saw thousands of Canadians from coast to coast come to Ottawa to demand an end to COVID mandates in all forms. Despite the peaceful nature of the protest, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s federal government enacted the Emergencies Act in mid-February, leading to Lich’s arrest two days later, on February 17.
Crown witness shown videos of Freedom Convoy leaders calling for peace and respect for police
The Democracy Fund (TDF) is crowdfunding Lich’s legal costs, and said in a Day 8 trial update that counsel for Mr. Barber “showed Sergeant Pilotte several videos of Chris Barber wherein Mr. Barber at various times exhorted people to remain peaceful.”
“He admonished one protester who allegedly burned a Canadian flag and another who displayed a Canadian flag upside down,” the TDF noted.
In another video, Barber stressed that people should not direct their anger toward law enforcement. Former Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador Brian Peckford, who opposed COVID mandates, made an appearance in several videos as well, where he explained and defended the Charter rights of Canadians, and asked people to protest peacefully.
Pilotte was also shown videos of Lich calling for peace and calm. There was also another video that showed two federal MPs telling people to come to Ottawa. Lich’s co-counsel, Eric Granger, asked Pilotte if any of those MPs were charged, to which she replied she was not certain whether they were.
On the seventh day of the Freedom Convoy leaders’ trial, the court also viewed a press conference in which Lich and Barber call for media fairness in coverage of the protests.
It was on Wednesday that the defendants learned Pilotte was given a list of videos to download regarding the Freedom Convoy by Benson.
The court told the Crown that it must provide the defense with the video list made Benson, which Pilotte was told to download.
During the sixth day of the Freedom Convoy leaders’ trial, the court began viewing multiple social media posts showing Lich calling for protesters to be “peaceful” and even to “pray for the Prime Minister.”
On the fifth day of the trial, Lich’s lawyer, Lawrence Greenspon, argued against allowing the Crown to be allowed to submit evidence to the court from local civilians who claimed the truckers’ horn-honking affected their well-being.
Late last week during the third and fourth days of the trial for Barber and Lich, Justice Perkins-McVey reportedly noted her unhappiness with the Crown after it submitted thousands of pages of evidence against the protest organizers all at once.
On day one of the trial last Tuesday, TDF observed that the judge overseeing the court case was clearly “not being led by the Crown.”
On day two of the trial last Wednesday, a police officer testified that he was under direct orders to not give protesters an “inch” and allow them to protest closer to Canada’s Parliament building, which he said would have mitigated disruptions to the city.
Thus far, only two of 22 Crown witnesses have testified, and the court discussed Thursday that it will be hard for the trial to finish on time.
The trial took a break today and will resume on Monday, September 18.