Coutts 3 Trial: Publication ban, importance of juries and COVID-19 as an 'awakening'

The role of juries explained amid media blackout as proceedings continue in Lethbridge.

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Juries form an important guardrail against governmental abuses, Michael Johnston, one of the Coutts Three defence lawyers, told Rebel News on Tuesday in Lethbridge, AB.

Alexander Van Herk, George Janzen, and Marco Van Huigenbos are all being charged with mischief over $5000 for their roles in the Coutts blockade of 2022, a peaceful demonstration obstructing traffic across the Sweetgrass-Coutts border crossing connecting Montana and Alberta running parallel to the Freedom Convoy demonstration in Ottawa, ON.

Both demonstrations were broadly opposed to decrees, edicts, and mandates imposed upon Canadians, ostensibly for the purpose of protecting "public health" in relation to COVID-19.

A publication ban has been applied to the preliminary proceedings by the trial's judge, who said such a ban helps protect the defendants' rights to a fair trial by reducing risk of tainting the jury pool.

He said potential jurors exposed to information regarding the trial's preliminary hearings are less likely to impartially execute their roles as jurors if selected to sit on the jury.

Johnston shared a famous quote from the late Patrick Devlin, a British judge and legal philosopher. Devlin described juries as "little parliaments".

"[Devlin] likened every jury to a "little parliament" and suggested that the jury sense is much like the parliamentary sense and that he couldn't see one surviving if the other one died," Johnston explained.

"By involving individuals – the common people that we all are– in the actions of the government at the front-end and the back-end, we ensure that what is actually happening on our behalf is at all times, kind of in conformity with what the people wish, because governments are not instituted for the purposes of being bodies upon themselves.

They exist in order to facilitate and to benefit us; the individuals."

Juries help ensure that laws are "in conformity with the wishes of the people to whom ultimately the government should be responding," Johnston added.

Van Huigenbos, a former city councillor in Fort McLeod, AB, addressed a common misconception about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's invocation of the Emergencies Act and the conclusion of the Coutts blockade.

Van Huigenbos explained that despite the Coutts blockade being used as a key rationale by Trudeau for the Emergencies Act's invocation – with the PM describing the obstruction of traffic across the Sweetwater-Coutts border crossing as a critical threat necessitating emergency powers – the Emergencies Act powers were not used to end the Coutts blockage.

Van Herk reflected on how governmental abuses and coercion marketed as "public health" measures in response to COVID-19 amounted to a political "awakening" for many Canadians in several dimensions. Canadians became more aware of the growing harms to individual liberties flowing from increasing governmental centralization of control over time, he said. He also said the

"COVID was an awakening for a lot of people," Van Herk held. "People felt that there was something wrong, and they knew that with the suppression of what was happening, the only way they can change it is by standing up, getting vocal about it, and getting involved."

Former Alberta Premier Jason Kenney was "ousted" due to the Coutts blockade, Van Herk held "[People] realized that, yes, people can make change, but you have to be involved. You have to take part."

Van Herk concluded by noting a left-wing person's increased proclivity for direct political involvement relative to their right-wing counterparts.

He said, "The wokeness of the left-leaning people, they have all the time, it seems like, to be involved, and we're too busy working and taking care of our families and doing things that we forget about it and rely on everybody else to do it."

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