Peaceful protestor defends himself against criminal charges in five-day trial

OTTAWA, ON: The Justice Centre announces that a five-day trial for Guy Meister has begun at the Ontario Court of Justice in Ottawa. Mr. Meister was arrested in Ottawa and then charged with mischief and obstructing police during the crackdown on the peaceful 2022 Freedom Convoy protest. 


At 12:15 p.m. on February 18, 2022, Guy Meister was sitting in his friend’s semi-trailer truck at the intersection of Sussex Dr. and Rideau St. in Ottawa, when they were surrounded by tactical officers in riot gear carrying AR-15 rifles and hammers. Mr. Meister was arrested when he exited on the truck’s passenger side. Only later, while he was in custody, did the police learn that Mr. Meister owned another rig parked nearby. He was taken to a remote processing facility where, after being denied legal counsel, he had to sign an undertaking to be released.


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. 


The trial in Ottawa at the Ontario Court of Justice before Justice Jonathan Brunet begins on September 21 and is scheduled to run for five days. 


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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