OTTAWA, Ontario (LifeSiteNews) – During the 11th day of the trial for Freedom Convoy leaders Tamara Lich and Chris Barber, an Ottawa city manager 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 Wednesday, Crown witness Kim Ayotte, who works as the general manager of emergency and protective services for the city of Ottawa, spoke about text-message exchanges between him and Barber.
The Crown had presented the text messages before the court. According to The Democracy Fund (TDF), which is crowdfunding Lich’s legal costs, in its court update, one of Barber’s goals during the convoy was to make sure vehicles were removed from residential areas and not blocking emergency access points.
The TDF noted that Ayotte expressed “gratitude” to Barber “for moving a number of trucks.”
“He testified about observing trucks parked in a way that allowed for more trucks during his walks and mentioned observing honking horns, diesel fumes, and illegal parking on February 11, 2022,” the TDF stated.
Ayotte, as noted by the TDF, said that he saw people engaging in “various activities without permits, including playing music and dancing.”
Asked by Justice Heather Perkins-McVey if dancing needed a permit, Ayotte insisted that the activity did “need” one.
“He mentioned seeing a kitchen on February 6 that he had requested to be removed but was still present. Additionally, he observed firewood piles, a structure on the roadway, and a flatbed truck that was eventually used to remove these materials,” the TDF said.
Ayotte was tasked during the Freedom Convoy to work with police to establish “emergency lanes” to quell protesters.
Ayotte also spoke about a photo that showed blocked emergency lanes and how some trucks honked constantly from morning to night.
The TDF noted that Ayotte observed “different convoys at different times throughout the event,” as well as “illegally parked trucks, bouncy castles, and hot tubs.”
Ayotte insisted that while the protesters did not need a permit, those “dancing” in the streets did need a permit, which they did not have.
Lich’s lawyer, Lawrence Greenspon, observed that he was surprised to see Ayotte in court without any notes. After a request by the Crown for Ayotte’s notes, he returned to court with emails and notes as well as a WhatsApp conversation as evidence he wanted to use. However, he admitted that this was not all his evidence.
On Tuesday, Ayotte admitted he only went for an occasional “walk” to see what was going on in downtown Ottawa concerning the protests and observed what was going on through this office window.
City manager admits Freedom Convoy protesters were concerned about maintaining ‘safety’ of street lanes
During testimony on Wednesday, Ayotte affirmed that he agreed “protest leaders were concerned about maintaining the safety lanes and had raised this issue with him,” the TDF said.
He also said that the reason vehicles were not towed away from downtown Ottawa was mostly due to emergency routes being adequately maintained by the convoy partakers.
Ayotte also confirmed that after the protests he had met with the Public Order Emergency Commission (POEC) and had given them a sworn statement. 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.
The TDF said that Ayotte “acknowledged that all operational decisions, including ticketing, towing, fire safety, keeping peace, maintaining public order, and crowd control, were made by OPS (Ottawa Police Service).”
In court Wednesday, Ayotte said he did not know of any police operational traffic plan until the POEC investigation revealed it.
The TDF said that when Greenspon asked if “Ayotte was telling the court under oath that he was not aware of the police traffic plan, Ayotte clarified that he was not aware of the ‘specific document’ until the POEC.”
“Perkins-McVey asked if Ayotte had worked together with the police on the traffic plan, to which he responded affirmatively but stated that he did not have access to the police traffic plan. Ayotte acknowledged that the police traffic plan directed convoy vehicles into the city of Ottawa, including large trucks. He further admitted that during the convoy, he was aware of police actions in this regard,” the TDF said.
The court also learned from Ayotte that “the city never erected barriers to prevent the entry of convoy vehicles into downtown Ottawa at any point during the event,” but that some roads were closed by the Ontario Provincial Police before the convoy arrived.
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 trial against Barber and Lich began September 5 and since Monday the Crown has only called four of its 22 witnesses. Greenspon has criticized the slow pace of the trial thus far.