"Findings of fact can't be based on feelings," Justice Heather Perkins-McVey, the judge presiding over the Chris Barber and Tamara Lich trial said on Thursday, the twelfth day of proceedings in Ottawa following testimony from one of the prosecution's witnesses.
Perkins-McVey questioned the "relevance" of testimony from Serge Arpin, who worked as chief of staff for former Ottawa mayor Jim Watson during the time of the Freedom Convoy in the winter of 2022.
"It was an uncomfortable place to be," Arpin said of the downtown streets upon which Freedom Convoy demonstrators' vehicles were parked and where the protest's supporters walked and congregated. He did not explain why he felt "uncomfortable."
The judge's remarks on "relevance" were made after Tim Radcliffe, one of two prosecutors, invited Arpin to explain the nature of his discomfort. Arpin's "subjective" feelings, the judge maintained, are irrelevant to the trial.
The causes of and circumstances around his stated discomfort, she added, may be relevant to proceedings.
Lawrence Greenspon, Lich's attorney, highlighted Arpin's lack of notes while claiming that the Crown failed in fulfilling its disclosure duties with respect to Arpin's testimony.
"He doesn't have anything," Greenspon said of Arpin's appearance in court without any notes regarding events he expected to be questioned about and cross-examined over. Arpin was meant to testify exclusively about city officials' negotiations with Lich in relation to the Freedom Convoy protest, he added. Greenspon said the prosecution did not advise the defence about its intent to have him testify about his observations of the Freedom Convoy demonstration.
Arpin is "another witness with whom we have zero disclosure," Greenspon stated. He also said Arpin's comments amounted to "another expanding witness's testimony" while referring to a pattern of disclosure shortcomings on the part of the Crown.
Earlier in the day, both the Crown and defence completed their respective queries of Kim Ayotte, Ottawa's general manager of emergency and protective services.
Ayotte testified about his role in negotiating with Barber to reduce the demonstration's geographical range of impact. He said Barber had helped move vehicles — 40 large trucks — associated with the protest to Wellington St., in front of Parliament Hill.