OTTAWA: Tamara Lich appeared in an Ottawa Court today remotely from prison, after she was arrested on a Canada-wide warrant for alleged breach of bail conditions. The Justice Centre is funding the legal defence of Ms. Tamara Lich, who was represented in court by well-known criminal lawyer Lawrence Greenspon.
After an all day hearing, the Court reserved its decision until Friday, July 8 at 130pm EST in Courtroom 3. Justice of the Peace Paul Harris stated he had copious notes and needed time to consider his decision.
Crown Prosecutor Moiz Karimjee argued that Ms. Lich was in breach of her bail conditions. The evidence presented was a video clip showing her in what was described as a three-second congratulatory interaction with Tom Marazzo, a participant in the Ottawa convoy, immediately after she returned to her table following her acceptance speech, at the Justice Centre’s annual George Jonas Freedom Award dinner in Toronto on June 16, 2022. One of Ms. Lich’s bail conditions states she cannot communicate with Tom Marrazo (and certain other individuals), except in the presence of legal counsel.
A photograph was also introduced into evidence by the Crown, of Ms. Lich with five other guests in a group photo, with Ms. Lich standing beside Mr. Marazzo. The photo was taken by a dinner guest and posted to Facebook. Ms. Lich’s surety, who cannot be named due to a publication ban, testified she asked Ms. Lich about the photograph and that Ms. Lich told the surety that her lawyers were present when the photograph was taken.
At one point, the defence objected to Mr. Karimjee calling the George Jonas Freedom Award “the so-called freedom award”, and he was chastised by Justice Harris.
Mr. Greenspon asked the Crown’s only witness, Ottawa Homicide Detective Chris Benson, if he knew of any other evidence that Lich and Marazzo communicated before or after the brief interaction in the video, which took place in “less than three seconds”, to which he replied “no.”
Mr. Greenspon asked the detective if he was aware that some lawyers from the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms were present, some of whom are acting as her lawyers in civil matters, and that she may have had criminal defence lawyers present at the dinner. The detective replied he did not know who Ms. Lich’s lawyers were, and stated he could not identify them. On questioning, Detective Benson was also unable to identify Justice Centre President and lawyer John Carpay who was seated at the table with Ms. Lich.
Mr. Greenspon told the Court, “This is the third time the crown has tried to incarcerate Ms. Lich, this time for a three-second interaction, and a photo. The prosecutorial response to this far exceeds the severity of the alleged breach.”
Ms. Lich has now spent a total of 27 days in jail, despite having no criminal history or record, on charges that do not involve violence. The Court heard evidence from Detective Benson that Ms. Lich was arrested in Medicine Hat, Alberta on Monday, June 27, 2022, and Mr. Benson and another Ottawa police homicide detective were sent to Alberta on Wednesday, June 29, 2022 to retrieve Ms. Lich. She was flown to Ottawa for a second bail hearing and has been in jail another nine days.
Sending two senior homicide detectives across country to pick up Ms. Lich was something Detective Benson admitted he had never seen in 20 years of policing.
On February 17, 2022, Ms. Lich was first arrested following the peaceful protest in Ottawa, and faces charges of mischief, counselling to commit mischief, and obstructing police. The day before Ms. Lich was charged and jailed, Ontario Superior Court Justice Hugh McLean had ruled that Ms. Lich and other Defendants in a civil action to stop honking in downtown Ottawa were “at liberty to engage in a peaceful, lawful and safe protest.”
This follows a previous bail hearing on May 25, 2022, when the Crown attempted to first have her bail revoked because she was announced as the winner of the annual George Jonas Freedom Award. Justice Kevin Phillips did not agree with the Crown that being a recipient of this award was a breach of her bail conditions and amended the conditions permitting Ms. Lich to attend the award dinner in Toronto. While he said the Courts are not “thought police,” Justice Phillips upheld a sweeping social media ban and Ms. Lich was prohibited from communicating with certain named individuals, unless in the presence of counsel.
“The extent to which the Crown is persecuting Ms. Lich is shocking and concerning. The fact that the homicide detective that brought her back to Ottawa knew nothing about the event where the alleged breach occurred is incredibly troubling. The police did not know who her lawyers were, and did not even realize her lawyers were present at the dinner,” notes Eva Chipiuk, Justice Centre lawyer.
“Had the police taken the trouble to listen to Ms. Lich’s speech, they would have heard that her speech was vetted by legal counsel and there were precautions taken to ensure there was no breach of bail conditions,” adds Ms. Chipiuk.
“The police have a duty to inform themselves and investigate the circumstances surrounding the alleged breach. It seems like in this case, nothing was done apart from viewing a video and a picture posted to Facebook. This is the Crown’s third attempt to keep Ms. Lich in jail essentially on the same evidence each time. Homicide detectives, crown attorneys, and scarce court time are being expended on persecuting a mother and grandmother for her peaceful activism against two years of repressive government lockdowns and mandatory vaccination policies,” concludes Ms. Chipiuk.