NS Trucker seeking stay of criminal charges of mischief at Freedom Convoy

R v. Meister

NS Trucker seeking stay of criminal charges of mischief at Freedom Convoy

R v. Meister

Nova Scotia trucker, Guy Meister, was arrested last year in February 2022 while peacefully protesting at the Freedom Convoy in Ottawa. Mr. Meister went to Ottawa to protest the Canadian Government mandating Covid-19 vaccines for truckers and Canadians with serious consequences for those who did not comply.

Mr. Meister is a law-abiding citizen who did not want to be pressured by the Canadian government into taking a new Covid-19 vaccine with no long-term safety data. He simply believes in the freedom to choose what goes into one’s body without government interference – a right that has been enshrined in the Charter.

 At 12:15 p.m. on February 18, 2022, he was sitting with his friend, Mike, in Mike’s rig near the intersection of Rideau and Sussex, in Ottawa. Suddenly, a group of tactical officers dressed in riot gear and carrying hammers and AR 15 assault rifles, encircled the rig. They had no ID numbers on their uniforms.

One of the tactical officers smashed the driver side window with a hammer and quickly arrested Mike who was covered in glass. Guy Meister was also arrested, and his hands were zip-tied behind his back.

After half an hour in the custody of these tactical officers, Mr. Meister was transferred to the custody of the Ottawa police who were also in the vicinity. The Ottawa police emptied his pockets and replaced the zip-tie with handcuffs that were so tight that his fingers started to go numb. Mr. Meister told the police that the handcuffs were painful and asked to have his hands cuffed in the front of his body. The police refused to loosen them and just retorted that “they are gonna hurt.”

He was detained in this condition with his arms handcuffed behind him in an unheated transport vehicle in the bitter cold without access to food, water, washrooms, medical care, or legal counsel for over two hours. He was then driven to a remote makeshift processing station. There were approximately eight other people in the police transport vehicle. They were taken one at a time into the processing trailer.

Those arrested were required to sign an undertaking in order to be released. They were not provided with the opportunity to speak with legal counsel.

Mr. Meister made his decision: His arms, shoulders and hands were aching. He was in extreme physical pain and he just wanted to get out, so without legal counsel, he signed the undertaking. The question, “don’t we even get to have a lawyer”, that he initially posed to the Ottawa police, was ignored.

Guy Meister’s ordeal lasted more than three hours. He was eventually released on to Conroy Road, where he met up again with his friend Mike. They tried to avoid the cold wind in a bus shelter while Mike called a friend to pick to them up.

Later, Mr. Meister discovered that his truck had been towed away. He recovered his truck after a week with its windows rolled down and the seat wet and full of snow. He needed a jump to start it. The cost to get his truck back was $1,200.

“Mr. Meister, a hard-working Canadian trucker, was arrested for exercising his constitutional right to peacefully protest,” states lawyer Sayeh Hassan, who is supervising the legal defence of dozens of Freedom Convoy participants. “It is imperative for Canadians to have the right and freedom to peacefully oppose government mandates without facing punishment, including arrest and criminal charges. Justice Rouleau correctly recognized that the majority of Freedom Convoy protestors were exercising their fundamental, democratic rights. A stay of charges in this case would send a clear message that the rights of Canadians to peacefully protest is and will be protected.”

In court on Feb 24, 2023, Mr. Meister’s counsel, Brian Doody, argued that Mr. Meister was arbitrarily detained and arrested by the police in violation of his section 9 Charter rights and that therefore the criminal charge against him should be stayed.

The five-day trial for Guy Meister took place at the Ontario Court of Justice in Ottawa in September 2023.

Mr. Meister appeals to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He believes that his involvement in the Freedom Convoy was an exercise of his Charter section 2(b) right to “freedom of thought, belief, opinion, and expression.” He also argues that police did not have “reasonable suspicion” or “reasonable and probable grounds” for his arrest. Further, he asserts his “right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure” with regard to the freezing of his bank accounts. Because Mr. Meister was denied the right to speak to a lawyer “without delay,” and because evidence against him was gathered even while his right to speak to a lawyer was violated, he argues that certain evidence must be excluded from his trial as a result.

Mr. Meister also claims that the federal Emergencies Act failed to properly define an area where such rights would be suspended on the basis of “reasonable limits prescribed by law,” which is required by section 1 of the Charter. In other words, he argues that there had not been a legally defined “red zone” where his right to protest had been suspended.

Lawyer Brian Doody stated, “On the day that Guy Meister was arrested in Ottawa on February 18, 2022, the only ‘reasonable limits prescribed by law’ that placed any lawful limit on Meister’s exercise of his Charter ‘freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression’ are set out in the emergency Order made by the Ontario government on February 12, 2022, which was designed expressly to address the ‘mischief’ of ‘imped[ing] access to or egress from, or the ordinary use of,’ the intersection at Sussex Drive and Rideau Street by lawful protesters and their vehicles on February 18, 2022.”

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