Ottawa, Ontario: Chris Barber is in Ottawa court today. Almost a year after he became a household name in Canada because of the freedom convoy, the Saskatchewan trucker seeks to redress the damage done to his case and personal life by the release to the public of his private text messages that included client/solicitor information, protected, privileged information, as well as personal messages that have impacted his relationships.
The application is seeking a stay of proceedings to quash criminal charges against Mr. Barber due to the extent in which his privacy rights were violated when his private text messages were made available to the public by the Crown and published by the Ottawa media without his consent or knowledge. Mr. Barber will argue that this has prejudiced his case irredeemably.
Shortly after his arrest in February 2022, Mr. Barber’s’ cell phone was seized by the police. Subsequently, thousands of his private messages were released to the media on a Thursday afternoon before the Canada Day long weekend resulting in a public media story on the Monday, based on private cell phone messages. By the time his lawyer got a court order to seal his cell phone records on the following Tuesday, it was a fait accompli – the damage had already been done over the weekend. The media had sufficient time to read through all the private leaked text messages.
Not only did this free-for-all release of Mr. Barber’s text messages to the media present a serious infringement on the privileged solicitor/client messages, but the invasion of his private communications with his wife, family members, friends and business clients, by media access was completely unwarranted given that these private messages had absolutely nothing to do with the protest. The crown’s action to release the text messages, by filing them in court without vetting for privacy rights, blatantly compromised Mr. Barber’s right to confidential communications with his lawyers and privacy rights with others – a protected right of all Canadians.
Chris Barber is a hard-working Canadian trucker who simply wanted to do his job – delivering food to Canadians. However, he felt compelled to stand up against mandates that forced Canadians including other hard-working truckers to be vaccinated against their will or lose their livelihoods. He didn’t have a criminal record and he had no intention of breaking any laws by driving to Ottawa to peacefully protest. He drove to the nation’s capital with a convoy of like-minded truckers to participate in a legal and legitimate protest that was to become one of the most famous peaceful protest movements in the world.
The Justice Centre is committed to standing up for the Charter rights that are entrenched in the Constitution and guaranteed to all Canadians. Canadians have a right to peacefully protest either in favour or against the government, and to ensure their privacy rights are upheld lawfully in the process too.