The ninth day of the trial of Chris Barber and Tamara Lich took place on Monday in Ottawa, Ontario, and was primarily consumed by the questioning of Etienne Martel – a provincial police officer from Quebec who worked in the nation's capital during the Freedom Convoy of 2022 – by both the prosecution and defense.
Both Lich and Barber are charged with mischief, obstructing police, intimidation, and counselling others to commit mischief and intimidation for their roles as organizers of the Freedom Convoy, a peaceful protest held between January and February of 2022 in opposition to government-imposed decrees and edicts – marketed as "public health" measure to reduce COVID-19 transmission – restricting constitutional rights without due process.
Martel, a witness for the prosecution, stated that he arrived in Ottawa to provide "crowd control" assistance to law enforcement in its response to the Freedom Convoy. He testified that he came to the city on February 17, 2022, hours after both Tamara Lich and Chris Barber had been arrested.
Rebel News asked Lawrence Greenspon, Lich's attorney, if Martel's arrival in Ottawa after Lich's and Barber's arrest diminished the relevance of his testimony.
"Of course," Greenspon replied. "He's testifying about what happened on [February] 18th and 19th, by which point both Tamara Lich and Chris Barber had been arrested and were in custody."
Justice Heather Perkins-Mcvey, the judge presiding over the trial, questioned the admissibility of Martel's testimony given the composition of notes he brought with him to trial. Martel brought a logbook with him to supplement his testimony in the event that he might have needed to refresh his memory.
The logbook, however, was primarily composed of records from other police officers in the unit – about 45 of them – with which he was deployed to Ottawa.
After Martel testified that he had reviewed the logbook prior to his testimony, Perkins-McVey said his review of other officers' experiences may compromise his "ability to provide independent evidence."
Diane Magas, Chris Barber's attorney, emphasized that Martel could not testify to any information he had not witnessed or experienced first-hand.
Martel worked near the "frontline" – the standoff point between police officers and Freedom Convoy demonstrators when law enforcement began using force to end the protest by consolidating the demonstration's footprint – during his deployment to Ottawa.
He testified that "nothing was thrown" at police officers by demonstrators. "No projectiles," he added. While he heard "some yelling," he noted that demonstrators "just stayed in place" as police advanced towards them.
Martel had two English-French translators with him given his lack of English-language proficiency.
The day's proceedings concluded with the judge echoing Greenspon's admissions claims to the prosecution, which amount to acknowledgements of certain claims from the Crown. Greenspon admitted on behalf of his client that mischief was committed by some persons in downtown Ottawa during the Freedom Convoy, rendering any testimony from Crown witnesses towards this claim redundant.
Prosecutor Siobhan Westcher claimed that acceptance of such admissions suppresses the Crown's ability to introduce other witnesses. Both Greenspon and the judge agreed that acceptance of Lich's defense's admissions does not preclude the prosecution from introducing other witnesses, but only precludes testimony or evidence towards the admitted claims to avoid redundancy and uncontested claims.