Lich detained in jail for minor breach of bail while violent offenders go free
By Thomas More —
Ottawa — Freedom Convoy leader Tamara Lich was detained in jail on July 8 for breach of bail conditions even though her lawyer says no one in Canada has ever been detained for such a minor breach.
Ottawa lawyer Lawrence Greenspon told an Ottawa court that he knows of no decision in Canada’s history of a decision to detain an accused on a minor offence of breaching the bail condition of non-communication. Lich was arrested after going to a public $250-dinner in Toronto to receive the annual freedom award from the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms. Lich sat at the same table as Freedom Convoy supporter and former military captain Tom Marazzo, who was invited to the February trucker protest in downtown Ottawa. He liaised with police to ensure that protest vehicles were parked in police-designated areas to allow for emergency traffic flow.
The conditions over Lich’s bail include not being in the presence of about eight other protesters, including Tom Marazzo, unless in the presence of lawyers.
The court was shown a photograph of Lich with Marazzo and four others posing for a photograph at the dinnerand also viewed a three-second video in which Lich leaned over and speaks a short phrase to Marazzo as she passed by the seated Marazzo. Greenspon argued that lawyers for both were present at the dinner.
Lich faces charges of mischief, counselling mischief, obstructing police, counselling to obstruct police, counselling intimidation and intimidation by blocking and obstructing one or more highways for her role as one of the organizers of the protest that occupied about eight downtown streets in Ottawa in February.
She was charged with counselling to commit mischief after twice saying at the time of her arrest: “Hold the line.” A mischief charge is a minor offence that includes charges such as playing music too loudly.
The court room was filled with Lich supporters, some of whom, cried as they left the court house. One woman said: “She is a political prisoner.” Said another: They treat murderers better.”
In fact, violent offenders have been known to get better treatment. In the same Ottawa court house, in a court room down the hall, a violent offender was released despite a second breach of bail and probation conditions. The accused went into a store that he had previously robbed and brandished a knife. City lawyers have said that courts frequently release violent offenders.
Justice of Peace Paul Harris, a former Parks Canada purchasing manager was appointed in 2017 and had no legal background prior to being appointed, argued that Lich needs to stay in custody, in part, because the city of Ottawa “will continue to fear” if she were released. He called the freedom convoy protest an “illegal occupation” and did not mention that the protesters, by and large, were only guilty of parking offences. Lich has not been convicted on any charges and none of the charges against here have been tested in court. Harris also argued for her detention by saying that the trucker protest cost the city of Ottawa “great sums of money.”
He also said that the photo taken at the dinner was “adding more fuel to the fire” and “such action will certainly erode public confidence in the administration of justice.”
Greenspon said that he would immediately apply for an appeal with a superior court before a judge. If not successful, Lich, who has already spent one month in jail, could spend many more months in jail waiting for a court date on minor charges.