OTTAWA, ON: The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms announces that the 16-day criminal trial for Chris Barber begins today in Ottawa at the Ontario Court of Justice. Mr. Barber faces charges of mischief, intimidation, obstructing a highway, obstructing a police officer, and counselling others to commit the same offences, based on his involvement in the peaceful Freedom Convoy protest in Ottawa in January and February of 2022.
The owner of a trucking company in Saskatchewan, Chris Barber was arrested near Parliament Hill on February 17, 2022, days after Prime Minister Trudeau had invoked the Emergencies Act and one day before hundreds of police officers in tactical gear advanced on Parliament Hill to remove peaceful protesters. He was released from jail with bail conditions on February 18, 2022.
Later, approximately 4,000 pages of private cellular communications between Chris Barber and Tamara Lich, fellow Freedom Convoy participant, and other communications not related to the Freedom Convoy were publicly released. Mr. Barber learned about the privacy violation after reading a CTV article that referenced his private messages. The Assistant Crown Attorney who had requested access to these communications stated that he had only attempted to capture the cellular communications between Mr. Barber and Tamara Lich. A publication ban and a sealing order were applied to the private communications, and counsel for Mr. Barber argued that his charges should be stayed or dropped; the privacy violation amounted to an abuse of process that violated his constitutional right to privacy. The abuse-of-process motion was later withdrawn by Mr. Barber’s lawyer.
On April 23, 2023, Mr. Barber plead “not guilty” to the charge of counselling others to disobey a court order.
The trial for Mr. Barber and Ms. Lich is expected to proceed for 16 days, starting today, September 5, 2023.
John Carpay, President of the Justice Centre, stated, “The 2022 Freedom Convoy was a significant moment in Canadian history. Brave Canadians made a remarkable winter’s journey from our coasts and mountains and prairies to the nation’s capital to peacefully exercise their Charter freedoms, to challenge harmful, unjust and unscientific government policies, and to start a conversation about the importance of rights and freedoms. We are proud to have supported Chris Barber and so many other truckers, both in defending them against unjust criminal charges and in defending Tamara Lich and others in an ongoing civil action against them.”