Freedom Convoy leaders face new criminal charges

The Crown has laid more charges against three key leaders of the so-called Freedom Convoy.

Tamara Lich, Chris Barber and Pat King all appeared in court virtually Thursday, a little more than one month after the weeks-long occupation of Ottawa’s downtown core was brought to an end.

Lich was behind a now-halted GoFundMe campaign that raised more than $10 million to support the protests in Ottawa.

She was arrested Feb. 17, denied bail, but then released from jail on March 7 on the condition she leave Ottawa within 24 hours, refrain from using social media and have no contact with certain co-organizers.

Chris Barber, another key organizer, was arrested at the same time as Lich but released a day later under similar conditions.

Until now, Barber faced charges including 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. 

Lich was just charged with counselling to commit mischief.

On Thursday, though, the Crown submitted “new information” from Ottawa police, which laid out six charges for each of Barber and Lich. 

According to a relaid information document, the two are jointly accused of mischief, counselling mischief, obstructing police, counselling to obstruct police, counselling intimidation, and intimidation by blocking and obstructing one or more highways. 

At the Ontario Court of Justice on Thursday, the defence lawyer for Barber and Lich, Diane Magas, said she’d like to review the new information and charges with her clients. 

Lich and Barber are both next scheduled to appear in court in April.

Magas said Thursday she’d like to have a bail review to modify the conditions of Lich’s social media ban. The Crown, however, said it would be up for the court to decide whether it has jurisdiction to further review the conditions.

King charged with intimidation, obstructing police

King, an Alberta resident and one of the most vocal leaders of the three-week occupation, had been facing four charges stemming from his Feb. 18 arrest, which he livestreamed to thousands of viewers.

Court heard Thursday he now faces new additional charges, bringing the total to 10:

  • Two counts of intimidation.
  • Two counts of obstructing police.
  • One count of disobeying a court order.
  • One count of counselling intimidation.

King had been previously charged with mischief, counselling to commit mischief, counselling to obstruct police and counselling to disobey a court order. Those charges remain.

He was patched into his hearing Thursday from the Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre where he’s been held since his bail was denied late last month.

While the Crown argued King was not entitled to another bail hearing, lawyer Cal Rosemond — who had not been retained by King but was in court on his behalf — argued he deserved one, given the “vastly different” nature of the new charges.

King is also now listed as a co-accused with Tyson George Billings, who was arrested on similar charges on the weekend police finally cleared out the occupation.

King’s next court appearance is slated for April 4.

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