Freedom Convoy organizers Tamara Lich and Chris Barber are set to stand trial beginning on Tuesday. The pair were hit with a slew of charges related to their involvement in the protest, which saw tens of thousands of Canadians descend upon Ottawa in early 2022 and demand an end to government-mandated Covid restrictions.
Prosecutors have alleged that by telling supporters to “hold the line” after police asked them to clear the area, Lich and Barber obstructed efforts to restore order in the nation’s capital after nearly three weeks of occupation.
The pair’s lawyers said in a joint statement Friday that the trial would likely not be an indictment of the Freedom Convoy itself, suggesting it would focus solely on the actions of those who directed participants.
“We do not expect this to be the trial of the ‘Freedom Convoy,” the attorneys wrote. “The central issue will be whether the actions of two of the organizers of a peaceful protest should warrant criminal sanction.”
Lich and Barber have both been charged with mischief, obstructing police, counseling others to commit mischief, and intimidation.
As Global News reports, the trial is expected to last just over two weeks. During that time, lawyers for both sides will present communications sent out by Lich and Barber to one another, and to those who partook in the Freedom Convoy.
The pair were charged as co-defendants, and Lich has said that given the fact she and Barber started the protest off together, they “feel like [they] have to finish it as a team.”
Following their arrests, Lich and Barber were barred from communicating with one another except when in the company of a lawyer.
Lich has been in and out of jail since the protest took place, being denied and granted bail numerous times. Criticism over her treatment has been widespread, with some suggesting that she has been targeted based on her political views.
“Look what Tamara did,” her lawyer told Tucker Carlson in an interview last year. “She inspired not only Canadians, 1000s of truckers, to drive to Ottawa to stand for their rights and stand against the authoritarian overreach from these Covid policies, but she also inspired protests around the world. The prime minister I think wants to send a message to Canadians that if you dare challenge me and challenge my view of what living under my reign should look like, you will suffer consequences.”