On Sept. 13, the seventh day of the criminal trial for Freedom Convoy organizers Chris Barber and Tamara Lich, defence lawyers showed a video of Mr. Barber repeatedly urging protesters to remain peaceful as the truckers approached Ottawa.
“This convoy to Ottawa next week on Sunday is a peaceful protest,” Mr. Barber said in a video posted to his TikTok account “BigRed19755” on Jan. 20, 2022, a week before the trucker convoy arrived in the nation’s capital.
“Anybody that joins this protest, or this convoy, from either coast to coast, is to adhere to the rules of the convoy, and I am dead serious,” he said, adding that if anyone doesn’t follow the rules, “they are out.”
Mr. Barber and Ms. Lich, two of the most prominent organizers of the Freedom Convoy protest against COVID-19 vaccine mandates and passports, are being charged with counselling to commit mischief, counselling to disobey a court order, counselling to obstruct police, and mischief that interferes with the use and enjoyment of property.
The two are being tried in downtown Ottawa, where hundreds of vehicles crowded the streets back in January and February 2022. The Crown prosecution is attempting to establish that the pair had an influence on how the protest unfolded over the course of three weeks.
In the TikTok video, filmed in Mr. Barber’s transport truck, he said that emergency vehicles had the right of way and protesters were to give them the “utmost attention” and clear the way for them when necessary. He also urged protesters to show respect to law enforcement at all times.
“Right now the public is 100 percent on the truckers’ and the removal-of-mandates’ side. We do not want to lose that,” Mr. Barber said.
In another video, from Feb. 1, 2022, Mr. Barber remarked from his hotel room in downtown Ottawa that the “peaceful trucks” parked on the streets were no longer honking at 3 a.m.
“It’s called compromise and we’re doing super good with it,” Mr. Barber said.
In a TikTok video posted on Feb. 9, 2022, two days after the injunction was granted, Mr. Barber can be heard saying that if the protesters see police coming to arrest them, they should “lock that door, climb in that bunk, but before you do that, grab that horn switch, and don’t let go,” in order to warn other protesters.
Discussion About Facebook Posts
The Crown prosecution would also like to share statements made by Ms. Lich and Mr. Barber on the “Freedom Convoy 2022” Facebook page. Mr. Radcliffe argued in court on Sept. 13 that the posts did not exist “in a vacuum” and that the court must consider what was said, and not said, on social media.
When Justice Heather Perkins-McVey asked Mr. Radcliffe to give an example of what the organizers did not say, he replied, “Park somewhere else. Go home. Stop honking. Turn off your cars. Turn off your trucks.”
The video recordings are not being submitted as evidence currently because Justice Perkins-McVey has not yet decided if Crown prosecutors will be able to rely on them and other evidence pulled from social media to make their case.
The trial is scheduled to last 16 days.