The Crown is no longer pursuing a criminal charge against “Freedom Convoy” organizer Tamara Lich that alleged she violated her bail conditions last summer.
The bail violation was scheduled to be heard in court next week, but the Crown stayed the charge on Monday in the hopes of using some of that time to deal with Lich’s main charges.
“Given that the substantive matter has gone on longer than anticipated, the Crown wishes to prioritize it and see that it is competed in a timely fashion,” Crown attorney Siobhain Wetscher explained in court.
Lich was released on bail in early 2022 after spending more than two weeks in jail following her arrest in the final days of the protest.
She was allowed to return home to Alberta with a lengthy list of conditions, including that she not communicate with fellow convoy organizers except through lawyers.
Later that summer, she was arrested in Alberta on a Canada-wide warrant after being photographed with one of those organizers — Tom Marazzo — at an awards ceremony put on by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms in Toronto.
The group have her the “George Jonas Freedom Award” for contributing to “advancing and preserving freedom in our country.”
Lich spent another month in jail before being released again.
Her lawyer, Lawrence Greenspon, said the breach charge never should have been laid in the first place.
“Had there been a proper investigation before Tamara Lich was arrested, shackled, hauled halfway across the country and then kept in jail for 30 days ΓÇª they would have realized that her then-counsel were present at the time and therefore these charges should never have been laid,” he said outside court on Monday.
In her book, “Hold the Line,” Lich detailed the event where she and Marazzo sat at the same table, and said she was accompanied at all times by lawyers from the justice centre.
In the book, she also recounted her arrest and described herself as a “political prisoner.”
Greenspon said Monday that Lich is relieved that the charge has been stayed.
“She’s been looking forward to this being one less thing that she has to respond to,” he said.
Lich and her co-accused Chris Barber are on trial for mischief, counselling others to commit mischief, intimidation and other charges.
Greenspon said if Lich is convicted, he believes the time she spent in jail after her second arrest should count toward the time she’s already served.
“It’s part of the whole experience that she went through as a result of the protest demonstration,” he said.
The trial was originally scheduled to be finished on Oct. 13 but it has been stalled by delays related to the disclosure of evidence and legal arguments about the admissibility of testimony and social media posts.
The Crown is expected to call more witnesses before it completes its case. Justice Heather Perkins-McVey has said she expects the legal arguments in the case will be lengthy and complex.
The lawyers have struggled to set time to continue the trial because of conflicting schedules and scarce court time.
Barber’s lawyer Diane Magas has already warned that if the delays continue she will consider making a Jordan application to have the main charges stayed as well. The Supreme Court has ruled that any person charged with a crime has the right to be tried within a reasonable time frame.
The trial is expected to continue on Thursday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 23, 2023.
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