Did police receive 'false and illegal instructions' in Coutts 4 prosecution?

Ezra Levant reports from Lethbridge, Alberta, where the defence in pre-trial hearing for four men charged in relation to the Coutts border blockade argued that the Crown prosecutor provided police with false and illegal instructions in the lead up to the group's arrest.

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Today was a slog at the courthouse here in Lethbridge, Alberta. Inside, four men who were arrested at the Coutts trucker blockade. Unlike many other trucker convoy protesters, these four are charged with very serious offences, including conspiracy to commit murder.

Other prominent figures opposed to the government spent time in jail, Pastor Artur Pawlowski and Tamara Lich who were behind bars for almost 50 days. While they were given bail, these men — Chris Lysak, Chris Carbert, Anthony Olienick and Jerry Morin — have spent over 500 days locked up, their trial still about a year away.

What we were doing in court today was not the trial; the jury has not yet been impaneled. Currently, the parties are dealing with pre-trial applications and motions. Yesterday, it was about whether or not a concession from one of the men was improperly extracted from him. In that instance, the judge ruled no it was not, that he was given the proper legal cautions.

Today, they were talking about an allegation by the defence that the Crown prosecutor gave false and illegal instructions to the cops. In fact, the defence claimed it was an illegal act and asked for more prosecutor-police communications, saying they had reason to believe it was improper. This was not resolved, with the police putting in, at literally the last moment, a new affidavit which caught the defence by surprise. The defence said they needed more time to review this, so the whole court was adjourned.

After starting at 10 a.m., having a 90-minute lunch break, two 15 minute breaks the day wrapped up at 3 p.m. It was an intense day, and gives a feel for the kind of hard slogging that's going on in the courtroom. During one of the breaks, I had shared a heartbreaking moment with one of the family members of the accused. The sorrow and heartbreak was palpable.

The costs of this case on the public are truly enormous; most, if not all, of the lawyers here are not based in Lethbridge. Between lawyers, clerks, a judge, and dozens of police involved in the case, it is staggering. 

I don't know what to make of it because we haven't had a substantive trial. There are certain facts of which I am aware but I cannot tell you because of a publication ban, which limits the ability to cover the case. I can tell you, however, that I was the only accredited journalist — in addition to a pair of citizen journalists — who were here covering the hearing.

So that's what we learned from the case today. It seems like both sides will be in court all week, and, frankly, this will continue for many more months as these men await trial next spring.

It's a terrible situation, we'll do our best to cover it journalistically.

And finally, as a word to those who might be wondering why Rebel News isn't crowdfunding a defence for these men, given we've taken on 3,000 other pandemic-related cases, the answer is very simple: donor intent.

When Rebel News and The Democracy Fund say they will defend civil liberties cases and civil disobedience, that does not cover murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder — pretty much nothing with the word in it.

Although my hearts breaks for the family members of these men, and if they are not guilty it will be a terrible travesty that they've spent so much time in prison, as a fiduciary I cannot agree that donations made for civil disobedience cases be diverted to cases where extreme conspiracies or planning violence are alleged.

I say alleged, because these men are innocent until proven guilty. Trouble is, a bail judge said they are a danger and must be jailed until trial. What a woeful thing this is.

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