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Freedom Convoy Leader Tamara Lich Denied Bail, Faces Potential Life in Prison

Published: March 3, 2022
Tamara Lich, 49, was granted bail after being denied twice by an Ontario court . Lich was being detained on charges of counseling to commit mischief, a charge that could result in Lich spending years behind bars. (Image: Screenshot via Twitter)

On March 2. Freedom Convoy leader and organizer Tamara Lich was denied bail for a second time by an Ontario court.  Lich is being held on charges of counseling to commit mischief for her involvement in the Freedom Convoy protests that rocked Canada’s capital, Ottawa for much of February. 

Mischief under the Canadian Criminal Code carries with it an extremely broad set of consequences and covers a wide range of possible offenses including interfering with computer data and endangering life or causing death.

Typically, mischief, in the context of protests, relates to interference with someone’s rights either to work or access property or tools, Martin Peters, a Vancouver criminal lawyer told CTV News.

In the most severe cases the maximum sentence is life imprisonment, Peters said.

While minor infractions, like kicking a wall, could result in a fine, mischief to a war memorial or blocking significant portions of a cities’ downtown could result in up to 10 years in prison, Toronto criminal lawyer Karen McArthur told CTV News. 

Peters told CTV News that counseling to commit mischief “should carry similar consequences to mischief itself” however, McArthur said that Lich’s case could see prosecutors push for harsher penalties. 

Charges against the leaders of the convoy, including Lich and Chris Barber, could be taken more seriously due to their leadership roles in what McArthur said was “an organization that had lots of tentacles.”   

Bail denied

At a bail review on March 2 Lich, 49, was again denied her freedom and was sent back to prison until at least next week. She has been in custody since Feb. 17.

Lich was originally denied bail on Feb. 22 after Ontario Court Justice Julie Bourgeois said she felt Lich was “obstinate” and “disingenuous” in her responses to the court during her original bail hearing and concluded that her detention was “necessary for the protection and safety of the public.”

People were quick to point out that a 42-year-old man from Headingly, Manitoba, who after injuring four people with his SUV at a Freedom Convoy rally in Winnipeg and who is facing an array of charges including assault with a weapon has been granted bail despite his violent alleged crimes.  

Justice Bourgeois was a Liberal candidate in the 2011 Canadian federal election prompting Lich’s lawyer to file an affidavit on Lich’s behalf that said “had she known Bourgeois was a Liberal candidate in the 2011 federal election, she would have asked the justice to recuse herself from the case,” the Toronto Sun reported. 

“Had I had that information beforehand, I would have felt uncomfortable with the situation,” Lich told the court Wednesday.

Lich’s lawyer, Diane Magas, argued that Bourgeois repeatedly referred to the impact of the protest on “our community” in her decision to deny Lich bail saying “If a justice feels impacted in our community, in her community, in my submission she should not sit. There should be an out of town judge.”

Political support

Lich is garnering support from across the country particularly by her MLA, Drew Barnes who represents Lich’s constituency of Cypress-Medicine Hat in Lich’s home province of Alberta. 

In a statement, published to Twitter on Feb. 27, Barnes asserts, “As media attention focuses on Russian tanks rolling through Ukraine, there is a miscarriage of justice unfolding in real time in Ontario,” referring to Lich’s treatment by the courts.

“She has been portrayed in the media as a violent criminal, a foreign operative, and an anarchist. Nothing could be further from the truth. She is a former energy worker of Metis heritage, a mother, and grandmother, and sometimes plays guitar in a local band,” Barnes wrote.

The mainstream media in Canada, including the state-funded Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), have repeatedly run disparaging articles aimed at falsely characterizing the peaceful protests that erupted in Ottawa and across Canada at the end of January as gatherings of alt-right extremists. In reality, the protests consisted of everyday normal Canadians from all walks of life and from all creeds. 

Barnes wrote, “Even before the convoy arrived, a variety of officials doggedly attempted to smear these folks as members of a small fringe minority.  They were even accused of being both racists and professional protesters, hired by foreign powers including, most laughably, Russia,” referring to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s comments on the convoy and dubious reporting by the CBC.  

Barnes concludes, “I can only conclude that she is a political prisoner of a thoroughly disgraced establishment,” adding, “Free Tamara? Yes, absolutely. Because when we free Tamara, we free ourselves.”