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David Krayden: Tamara Lich and Chris Barber’s Trial Reflects an Authoritarian Image of Our Country


Commentary

I’ve started calling it the Freedom Trial. Yes, it’s the much-anticipated trial of Freedom Convoy leaders Tamara Lich and Chris Barber. Both are on trial for a myriad of absurd charges: mischief, counselling others to commit mischief, intimidation, and obstructing police. These are the sort of legal entanglement usually reserved for people who get drunk and begin acting up in a most uncivil manner.

But this was clearly an act of desperation from Canada’s judicial system to punish Lich, Barber, and everyone who supported their protest. I’ve been covering this trial from the first day and it was interesting to note how the prosecution attempted to spin the trial away from politics. The Crown attorney had the gall to suggest that neither Lich nor Barber were on trial for their political beliefs. They are really on trial for serious criminal activity and don’t you forget it.

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But let’s be frank. Just as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act for purely political reasons—there was absolutely no evidence of violence or threat of violence in the Freedom Convoy’s nexus of Ottawa, and the border flaps in Ontario and Alberta had already been resolved—this trial is proceeding for purely political reasons.

And I’ll go further. This trial makes Canada look not just like a third-world dictatorship where political opponents of the brutal regime are routinely put on trial and punished for their temerity and courage in opposing policies they disagree with. This trial is an international embarrassment for Canada and is just another seminal marker on the road to authoritarian government that the Trudeau government has chosen to take over the past eight years.

At first we crawled along that road; at present we are walking quite briskly, on the cusp of breaking into a run. That could well become a sprint to the finish line if the federal government’s commitment to internet censorship continues this fall with the re-introduction of the Online Safety bill that will seek to ban disinformation without first even defining it.

But there is something emblematic of authorities putting political enemies on trial—after their resistance was crushed with a draconian and completely unnecessary legislative measure like the Emergencies Act.

It has not yet reached the apex of dictatorship when dissidents are paraded before show trials and are expected to confess their sins against the state before judgment is pronounced, or that confession has been induced by torture and through threats that family members could also disappear in the night, whisked away to dark underground prisons and ultimately to the frigid slavery of the Gulag.

No, we’re not quite there yet as Lich and Barber are both ably represented by outstanding legal counsel. Moreover, Judge Heather Perkins-McVey has already demonstrated her commitment to fairness and has actually chided the prosecution for not doing its job properly.

But I’ve been reading aloud George Orwell’s “1984” for a podcast over the last week and, although I’ve read the novel several times, am haunted by the dark shadows the book emits for democracies that can very well devolve into dictatorships because they forget that freedom can be very fragile indeed.

It is frightening to see the parallels in Orwell’s book: how the government controls the present and anticipates it will control the future by re-inventing and re-imagining the past to meet the ideology needs of today. In the book, political opponents of the regime are “vaporized.” In our society, they are cancelled, blacklisted, and subsumed by the state.

Never forget that the government froze the bank accounts of Freedom Convoy supporters—and the list it used to track those supporters was illegally hacked by a third party. If you can lose access to your money, the government can pretty well do as it pleases to you.

We don’t yet know if Lich and Barber will be convicted, and if so, if they will be sentenced to jail time. We do know that both have experienced tremendous personal dislocation for standing against COVID-19 mandates that we now know were largely ineffective and quite absurd.

We also know that this trial and the political persecution of Lich, Barber, and others associated with the Freedom Convoy has certainly induced a protest chill into Canadian politics. Is it worth protesting evil when evil comes back upon you and upends your life?

Can some good come from this trial?

Yes, it is an opportunity to tell the truth about the Freedom Convoy and to protest again the federal government’s rigidity.

But even more, you can see that same COVID  hysteria again on the horizon as the Ottawa Hospital demands people mask up again, and people actually riot to bring back the mandates.

So maybe this trial is well-timed. Undoubtedly, the Freedom Convoy put pressure on governments across Canada to reduce and eliminate the mandates and lockdowns. Perhaps this trial will remind us that the COVID mandate madness cannot occur again. We are not going to force our children to breathe in their own germs and carbon dioxide all day long at school. We are not going to take unproven vaccines for the rest of our lives. We are not going to isolate at home and sow the seeds of addiction while forcing businesses to shut down.

Has government learned its lesson? No, it has not.

But Canadians have. And that’s another reason to fight for Lich and Barber.

Their freedom is our freedom.

Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.



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