Featured Image
Tamara Lich and Chris Barber were arrested by Ottawa Police on February 17, 2022.Joe Warming & Glen McGregor/Twitter

OTTAWA (LifeSiteNews) – The judge overseeing the trial of Freedom Convoy leaders Tamara Lich and Chris Barber was swift to take issue with the Crown witnesses’ testimony. 

Justice Heather Perkins-McVey 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.  

Days 15 and 16 of the trial took place last Thursday and Friday and saw five out of eight civilian Crown witnesses from Ottawa testify to their observations regarding the weeks-long protests.  

In a Day 15 court update, the Democracy Fund (TDF), which is crowdfunding Lich’s legal costs, noted that one of the Crown’s witnesses, Sarah Gawman, an Ottawa resident, testified last Thursday that she felt anxious about the “constant noises” she heard during the protests, which disrupted her “analytical” work.  

Gawman also claimed that her quality of life was negatively impacted by the Freedom Convoy and the noises from fireworks and drum beating. She told the court that she was aware of a class-action lawsuit against the convoy protesters and “confirmed her active participation” in it.  

The next witness to be called was Vivian Leir, who is an administrator at the Presbyterian church on Kent Street, in downtown Ottawa. She claimed that the noise from the trucks was overwhelming and that diesel fumes bothered her, and she was upset that the trucks were not ticketed. 

Leir claimed she was sworn at, that she had to cancel choir bell practice, and that many unmasked people were roaming about the streets.  

Barber’s legal counsel cross-examined Leir, noting that she had claimed the protests were an “occupation,” like that of an invading army. When pressed further, Leir admitted that her train of thought about the Freedom Convoy being an “occupation” might have been based on feelings rather than fact.  

After hearing testimony from some of the Crown witnesses, Justice Heather Perkins-McVey on Thursday made it clear to the Crown that her decision to allow witnesses to testify was based on the condition that their accounts of the Freedom Convoy be “observational” rather than “impact” testimonies.  

Perkins-McVey said witnesses “may have felt a certain way that may not have been the reality.” 

Despite this, several times during court on Thursday she stopped the Crown’s questioning, noting that it had “veered into impact” territory and that the witnesses were testifying based on their feelings instead of observations. 

Lich and Barber’s trial 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. 

The trial, which has been on hold since September 22, has so far proceeded at a snail’s pace.  

One witness, Stephane Bellfoy, testified both on Thursday and Friday. He admitted that he was only “temporarily” living in Ottawa, however. He complained about having to walk long distances to take his kids to hockey, due to the protests, the smell of gas, cigarettes, and “the odour of illegal drugs.” 

Perkins-McVey asked him what “illegal” drugs he had smelled, to which he replied “Marijuana.” 

The judge replied, “Last I checked that was legal.” 

During court proceedings on Friday, the TDF noted that Bellfoy said he was mocked for not wearing a mask, at least ten times, and that he heard fireworks.  

However, during cross-examination, the TDF noted that despite being apparently so irked by the protestors, Bellfoy “admitted that he did not call the police when he heard honking after the injunction was ordered.” 

Another civilian witness called Friday was Chantal Biro, who runs a high-end retail business in ByWard Market.  

She testified that she tried not to have “run-ins” with protestors because she did not feel “safe,” and that people made fun of her. She also says she heard swearing, and people shouting “freedom” as well as the smell of exhaust fumes, “weed,” and “cigarette smoke.” 

However, when pressed during cross-examination, the TDF noted that Biro “admitted that she has never had any interaction with Tamara Lich. Biro was asked whether she is participating in the class action lawsuit against the convoy. Biro admitted that she could not “identify anyone who made fun of her or swore at her during the protest.”  

She also, as noted by the TDF, “further admitted that she has never had any interaction with Tamara Lich.” 

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.