Crown prosecutor Tim Radcliffe repeatedly described 2022's Freedom Convoy protest in downtown Ottawa as an "occupation" during his opening statement on the first day of the trial for Chris Barber and Tamara Lich.
Lich and Barber – two organizers of the demonstration – are being charged with mischief, obstructing police, intimidation, and counseling others to commit mischief.
Radcliffe said the protests were "anything but peaceful" as he echoed the narrative pushed by government officials and news media outlets such as the CBC, CTV, and Global News in his repeated characterization of the Freedom Convoy as an "occupation."
Diane Magas, Barber's lawyer, described Radcliffe's use of the term "occupation" as "inflammatory" and "inaccurate" while noting the term's use in a military context.
The prosecution played an 11-minute video montage in the Ottawa Courthouse – mostly composed of footage of the Freedom Convoy captured by Ottawa police officers' body cams and aerial surveillance drones – as a foundation for crimes allegedly directed by Barber and Lich. The video montage was composed by Const. Craig Barlow of the Ottawa Police Service.
Barlow said he was directed by the Crown to monitor hundreds of hours of video and select moments displaying "the horns," "the takedowns," and "the overhead [video]" displaying traffic congestion on certain downtown streets during the Freedom Convoy protest.
When cross-examined by Barber's and Lich's lawyers, Barlow acknowledged that his video montage – prepared in accordance with the prosecution's requests – did not include video of Freedom Convoy demonstrators hugging one another, playing hockey on Wellington Street adjacent to Parliament Hill, or children playing on bouncy castles.
When questioned by Radcliffe, however, Barlow described his video montage as an accurate reflection of the happenings and atmosphere of the Freedom Convoy. The video compilation was "'very representative of what was taking place during the convoy in Ottawa," he stated.
Lawrence Greenspon, Lich's defense counsel, rhetorically asked Barlow if the video montage captured "the worst" excesses of the protest, framing the compilation as insubstantial.
Barlow's video montage was mostly made up of police officers' body cam footage recording demonstrators chanting "Freedom!" and "Love over fear!", standoffs between groups of law enforcement and protesters, and large trucks honking their horns.
At one point during the defense's cross-examination of Barlow regarding the video montage and additional isolated clips from a longer 90-minute video recorded by a police officer on the final day of the Freedom Convoy, Justice Heather Perkins-McVey interjected to highlight that she heard protesters chanting, "Love over fear!" and not just "Hold the line!".
Radcliffe claimed the charges against Barber and Lich are "not about their political views," but about their use of "unlawful" means towards political ends regarding the government's "public health" decrees regarding Covid-19.
About 20 supporters of Barber and Lich attended the proceedings.