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Canada’s Political Prisoners Rot in Jail on Minor Charges of Mischief

Published: June 28, 2022
A Canadian flag flies upside down on the back of a truck during the "Freedom Convoy" protest against COVID-19 vaccine mandates and restrictions in front of the Parliament of Canada on Jan. 28, 2022 in Ottawa, Canada. (Image: DAVE CHAN/AFP via Getty Images)

News analysis

On June 27, award winning Canadian freedom fighter, Tamara Lich, was taken into custody after allegedly violating bail conditions imposed by an Ontario judge for her participation in the Freedom Convoy protests that rocked Canada’s capital of Ottawa for nearly three weeks in February. 

Lich, a vocal opponent of Canada’s liberal government imposed vaccine mandates, was awarded the 2022 George Jonas Freedom Award at a sold-out gala in June, hosted by Canada’s Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, for her demonstrated leadership in the historic protests which inspired similar protests across the globe.

One of Lich’s bail conditions was that she was not to “contact or communicate” in any way with a number of leaders of the Freedom Convoy unless “through counsel or in the presence of counsel.”

On the night of the gala, Lich posed for a picture with several others including Tom Marazzo. Marazzo is one of the individuals named in Lich’s bail condition that she is not permitted to associate with without the presence of her legal counsel. Lich’s lawyers were present at the gala. 

Canadian grassroots media are pointing to this photo as the catalyst for Lich’s most recent arrest. 

Marazzo tweeted on June 28, “I can confirm, as did many others, that we were in the presence of all of her lawyers! We’re not stupid. We abided by the conditions since she was released.”

Lich was originally arrested on February 17, 2022, and charged with counselling to commit mischief, and other minor charges. She was denied bail on two occasions and was finally released weeks later on March 7. 

On March 24, Lich was charged with an additional six charges including counselling mischief, mischief, counselling to obstruct police, obstructing police, counselling intimidation, and intimidation by blocking and obstructing one or more highways. None of the charges have been proven in court.

Lich’s most recent arrest comes as Canadians, sympathetic with her battle, plan to demonstrate in Canada’s capital of Ottawa on July 1, Canada Day, leading many to speculate that the timing of Lich’s arrest is potentially an intimidation tactic, employed by authorities to discourage participation in the Canada Day protests. 

Reportedly, Lich will remain in custody in the province of Alberta for six days after which she will be transported to Ottawa, some 3,500 kilometers (2,175 miles) away, to face a judge over her alleged violation of her bail conditions. 

Pat King

Pat King, a minor participant in the February Freedom Convoy protests, who has been falsely characterized as one of the core leaders of the protests by Canada’s mainstream media has been incarcerated on minor mischief charges since Feb. 18, 2022. 

He was denied bail on Feb. 25 despite arguments by his council to release him while he awaits trial. King has not been convicted of any crime however has spent over four months incarcerated.

Following his initial court hearing the Crown announced additional charges of perjury and obstruction of justice against him. 

King is joined in jail by his associate Tyson George Billings, who was arrested on similar charges on the weekend that police cracked down on the peaceful protesters after the Justin Trudeau government enacted the never before used Emergencies Act. 

“According to a legal expert, King and Billings have likely already served more jail time awaiting trial than they will if convicted and sentenced,” the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) Canada’s state-funded media recently reported. 

Joao Velloso, a law professor at the University of Ottawa told the CBC, “We are already reaching a period of prior detention that overpasses the possible punishment.”

Melissa McKee, a pastor at Ottawa’s Capital City Bikers’ Church told the CBC that King is “pretty beat down.”

“I’m not measuring Pat against Tamara or Chris Barber, I’m measuring what he did, what did he do? He did Facebook live videos rallying people, he knew this was a possibility that he could be arrested, but [113] days?” McKee told the CBC earlier in June. 

A group, advocating for fair treatment for King and Billings, have launched a letter-writing campaign asking people to send notes of support to the pair while incarcerated. 

“After over 100 days in prison being mentally worn down, Pat King is being pressured to agree to a gag order to silence his voice upon release,” wrote David Paisley, who runs a popular social media channel entitled, “Live from the Shed.”

Velloso told the CBC that around 80 percent of Canada’s prison population consists of people in a similar position as King. 

In Canada, the average number of adults awaiting trial or sentencing in provincial services is higher than the average number of adults sentenced to custody, according to Statistics Canada.

“For King… he’s going to be in preventative detention for a while, and if you look into the overall trends of criminal punishment in Canada, he probably already served his time,” Velloso told the CBC.