Rounding out this week’s public hearings as part of the Public Order Emergency Commission was prominent “Freedom Convoy” organizer Tamara Lich’s cross-examination, followed by testimony from a pair of protest participants.
Underway now is the commission’s questioning of Diagolon’s Jeremy MacKenzie, and following him will be former RCMP officer Daniel Bulford, who assisted with security for the “Freedom Convoy” and previously had been on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s security detail before resigning over the forces’ vaccine mandate.
From Lich being accused of having a “selective” memory when it comes to recalling the events that unfolded in Ottawa, to hearing about protesters’ experiences, here are the highlights from Friday’s hearings so far.
LICH ACCUSED OF ‘SELECTIVE’ MEMORY
One notable exchange from Friday’s proceedings came while Lich was under cross-examination by a lawyer representing the Ottawa Police Service. In showing Lich a Feb. 16 police log that indicated officers had told her to depart the city and share that message with others, she was asked whether she recalled this interaction.
Lich said that she remembers being upset.
“I believe I said something to the effect of ‘I can’t believe that you’re about to do this to your own people,”‘ she said.
Asked if she was crying because it was over and police told her to leave, she said she didn’t recall police telling her that she needed to leave. “It was suggested,” she said.
The Ottawa police lawyer then stated: “It seems to me your memory is selective when I take you to something that implicates you, you have no memory of it.”
Lich’s lawyer then popped up to say that was “inflammatory,” and quickly the line of questioning moved on.
Though, another instance where Lich’s memory was called into question came up while under questioning by a lawyer representing the citizens of Ottawa.
Asking Lich about testimony indicating that she “obviously” would have followed a court injunction to leave, it was pointed out to her that when an injunction against horn honking was imposed, her legal representation appeared in court to oppose it.
“You weren’t aware that was the positon you were taking?” the lawyer asked.
“I don’t recall that. But if you say so,” Lich said.
‘I WAS ALSO RECEIVING DEATH THREATS’
Under cross-examination by a lawyer representing the federal government, Lich was asked whether she was aware of death threats various political figures were receiving during the protests, prior to hearing testimony to that effect.
Asked first if she was aware that outgoing Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson received threats, Lich said she didn’t know.
Asked if she was aware former Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly received threats, she said “no.”
“You didn’t know that Deputy Prime Minister Freeland had received…” said the lawyer.
“I learned of that the other day,” Lich said.
“And the prime minister was receiving threats,” said the lawyer.
“I didn’t know that. I was also receiving death threats.”
ARRESTED PROTESTERS’ EXPERIENCES
Friday also saw a pair of protesters—not organizers but two people who decided to come and take part—offer the commission their experience of being in Ottawa, and being arrested after the Emergencies Act was invoked.
First, here’s how each described their experience protesting.
Veteran Chris Deering: “It really wasn’t that I wanted to come to Ottawa, is that I felt it was my duty and that I had no choice [but] to be there. Seeing what was happening over the last few years was troubling… During the protests… there was homeless people being showered with food. I had read that crime was down. It was the most amazing experience I’ve had in my life, and I don’t regret going or being there one bit.”
Peterborough resident Maggie Hope Braun: “There was just a lot of energy. I was seeing people from all different backgrounds and cultures, different outfits and you know, cultural outfits that I had never even seen before in Canada… There was just grown men crying and giving hugs everywhere, and it was emotional, and we cried. We had spent a long time feeling like we were really alone, and not being able to go out and really not being able to even talk or share our experience in our family gatherings… It felt like this was our family… The positive masculine experience, the way that the men were behaving, they were complete gentlemens [sic] and you know, I felt not unsafe whatsoever in the city.”
Maggie Hope Braun and Chris Deering are seen during their testimony at the Public Order Emergency Commission, in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 4, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
And here’s what they said about being arrested.
Deering: “I gave myself to the police and as the police took me down and he kneed me in my side, kicked me in my back. I was laying down…. I had my hands completely up, I’m saying ‘I’m very peaceful. I’m peaceful. I’m not resisting.’ … My hands were zip-tied. The officers slowly picked me up and then we slowly proceeded to the processing line… I was standing there in the cold for two hours. I asked the policeman who was on both sides of me I said: ‘do you mind, you know my condition, is it okay if I sit or kneel because I’m in chronic pain?’ It was obvious, my face was flush and I cried multiple times, and I don’t cry ever. I was it was the worst pain…”
Braun: “There was a man who had the Charter, the Charter of Rights or, I guess it was a bill of rights. It was a document. They look the same and they both represent human rights, and so I took three copies of that and there was three different police units it seemed… So I spoke to each unit, and I said, ‘you may have been able to justify this up until this point, but if you keep moving forward onto the people, because we’re just the people now that you have the trucks, you will be trampling our Charter of Rights with your boots.’ And I put it down in front of each one of them, and in the middle of the street I knelt down in front of the Charter and I told the police officers that that if they move forward, I’m willing to not resist arrest and I won’t move at that point. So that that was my line in the sand.”
More to come…