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Crown lays out arguments as Pat King goes to trial on conduct during 2022 convoy protest

Crown attorneys are arguing a key figure in what became known as the Freedom Convoy is guilty of crimes in part because of his presence and conduct during the weeks-long protests in 2022.

Pat King is facing nine charges, including mischief, intimidation of police and other charges.

They say he was directly involved in organizing a slow-roll at the Ottawa airport and encouraged others to take part in the crime of mischief by telling them to continue honking their horns.

Fewer than 10 witnesses are expected to be called by the Crown over the course of the trial, which is expected to last three non-consecutive weeks and end in July.

Day one of the trial saw downtown resident Victoria De La Ronde enter the witness box.

She described the difficulty of living with a visual impairment during the protests and told the court it was hard for her to leave her building because the methods she used to navigate the city were hindered by protesters.

“I certainly could not go out alone on my street because of the trucks that were blocking, at times they were encroaching on intersections, so I could never tell where those were. I could not hear the signals for crossing,” she said, adding that the vehicles’ idling and honking was  “too loud.”

A small group of police officers in yellow vests walk past a long line of trucks parked on a city street. Someone carries a fuel can past the officers.
A protester carrying an empty fuel container on a broom handle walks on Metcalfe Street in Ottawa past Ontario Provincial Police officers on Feb. 7, 2022. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

She said she wasn’t able to access taxis, public transit or ridesharing services during the protest, making it difficult to leave her apartment and escape the constant noise.

“It forced me to try and come up with ways to try and work around that situation,” she said. “It made me feel cracked and very worried for myself and others in my situation, and worried for everybody in that situation.”

She said the loud music, megaphones and occasional fireworks kept her from sleeping. 

“There was fear and there was also an impact of moving towards almost total exhaustion for lack of sleep,” she said.

“Being up under that constant noise, and also attached to that the fact that I was near exhaustion, I wasn’t able to concentrate, though I was trying my hardest, and I would have these headaches from lack of sleep.”

She also complained about the smell of exhaust fumes entering her unit.

Under cross-examination by King’s lawyer Natasha Calvinho, De La Ronde, a former federal government employee, described how she contacted lawyer Paul Champ’s office about a proposed class action lawsuit launched against many of the people involved in the convoy, including King

Because De La Ronde lived in the affected area, she would be entitled to any financial compensation made available through that class-action lawsuit, which is still being litigated.

Crown prosecutors are expected to call as their next witness Vivian Leir, an employee at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Ottawa.

Leir testified in the trial of Tamara Lich and Chris Barber, two organizers also facing charges for their role in the protests. During that testimony in October, Leir described seeing protesters urinate on church property.

She told court at the time she was “overwhelmed with trucks parked all around our church” when they arrived at the end of January.

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