OTTAWA, Ontario (LifeSiteNews) — After legal counsel for one of the Freedom Convoy leaders objected to a Crown witness continually calling the protests an “occupation,” the ruling judge warned the witness she must stop using that term as a descriptor for the protest.
Day 17 of the trial for Freedom Convoy leaders Tamara Lich and Chris Barber resumed on Monday in an Ottawa court with the Crown calling forth the last of its eight civilian witnesses.
Justice Heather Perkins-McVey told Crown witness Zexi Li, who was a key plaintiff in having a horn-honking injunction placed against the Freedom Convoy last year, to use the words “’protest’ and ‘demonstration’” instead of calling the Freedom Convoy an “occupation.”
During her testimony, Li, who is a 23-year-old Chinese-born government employee, claimed that the Freedom Convoy was “difficult” as well as “impossible” to deal with, complaining about large levels of “noise.”
“The level of noise that was present and the effects as a result of the occupation,” she said, according to reports.
“It was difficult to live as a human being and disruptions trying to work and lack of sleep and other effects of the occupation,” she added.
Barber’s defense counsel Diane Magas quickly took issue with Li using the word “occupation.”
This resulted in Perkins-McVey warning Li, “We have been using ‘protest’ and ‘demonstration.’”
Li, however, appeared not to listen, saying “Well I feel it was an…” which then caused the defense counsel to object, resulting in her being asked to leave the court.
Magas said she was asking the court to tell the witness to use “the word ‘protest.’”
“‘Occupation’ is inflammatory. There are people living under real occupation,” Magas noted.
Perkins-McVey then said that Li needs to be asked to “understand it will detract from her credibility if she continues to use this word.”
Lich’s defense counsel Lawrence Greenspon interjected as well, saying that it was not up to Li to “determine” whether the Freedom Convoy was a form of occupation.
Perkins-McVey then suggested Li use “protest or demonstration.”
Which term she chooses, is “up to her,” she noted.
The trial of Lich and Barber resumed last Wednesday after a hiatus of nearly three weeks, seeing the judge agreeing to allow the government to call eight more witnesses despite strong objections by the defense.
On that day, Perkins-McVey struck down a defense application calling for eight Crown civilian witnesses, who are downtown Ottawa residents and business owners, to not be allowed to testify.
During testimony last Thursday and Friday, Perkins-McVey was swift to take issue with the Crown witnesses’ testimony. She reminded the Crown that its line of questioning to its witnesses should result in them giving answers that are based on observational facts rather than on personal feelings regarding the protests.
After much back-and-forth Crown witness agrees to not call Freedom Convoy an ‘occupation’
When Li came back to the court, Perkins-McVey told her directly, “I would prefer you use the words protest or demonstration, when the lawyers object, it is for me to rule and not for you to answer.”
Li replied by saying, “Okay.”
The last few days of the trial has seen civilian Crown witnesses give their recounts of the Freedom Convoy; however, Perkins-McVey has taken issue with the personal nature of the testimony, telling the Crown its witnesses must give their direct observation instead.
When Li continued with her testimony, she said that while there was some relief from the horn honking after the injunction, it came back later.
“I recall a collective resounding honk, at 6:55 in the morning. And more scheduled,” Li stated to the court.
At this point Magas objected, saying that she was speculating at that point.
Perkins-McVey said “Right,” adding, “Only what you heard.”
Li claimed that she was not “speculating, the times were less sporadic, honking at the same moment rather than being spread out.”
“I recall it being on the hour, one instance I mentioned was at 6:55 and 7 a.m.,” she said.
Remarkably, Li again used the word “occupation” but corrected herself to call it a “demonstration.”
She claimed that horn honking was not just from motor vehicles, but sounded like “an air raid [siren] and train horns.”
The Crown’s lawyer then asked Li if she saw an “air raid horn.”
Li said she did not see it, but that it was “under a tarp.”
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.
The Democracy Fund, which is crowdfunding Lich’s legal costs, has produced extensive reports detailing the day-to-day proceedings of the trial which can be viewed here.