OTTAWA — One of the most visible organizers behind protests against COVID-19 restrictions and the Liberal government near Parliament Hill was denied bail on Tuesday.
A judge in an Ontario court said she believed there was a strong likelihood that Tamara Lich would commit offenses if released.
Another key organizer, Patrick King, was in court for a bail hearing, where a woman who admitted meeting him just four weeks ago offered to be a surety, pledging half the value of her home in Alberta to secure his bail.
The Crown pleaded for King’s continued detention, and the court is due to decide the case on Friday.
In Lich’s case, Judge Julie Bourgeois said the effect of the trucking convoy on Ottawa was immense and she found Lich to be willful and dishonest in her responses to the court during her bail hearing, which took place Saturday.
“I can’t be reassured that if I release you into the community, you won’t reoffend,” Bourgeois said.
“Your detention is necessary for the protection and safety of the public.”
As the bail process progressed, outside the cleanup and recovery of downtown Ottawa continued apace after a three-week blockade by large rigs that many have qualified as occupation.
The Ottawa Police Service reduced the size of the restricted area by several more blocks on Tuesday to primarily the area known as the Parliamentary Precinct, which includes the Hill.
Fences remain in place around much of the neighborhood, and police cars and officers are still plentiful throughout the area, but there are fewer movement restrictions in the city center.
The powers of the Federal Emergencies Act remain in place following a vote in the House of Commons on Monday evening to confirm the use of the law. The Senate began its mandatory review of the provisions Tuesday morning.
But with the blockade over, a federal finance official told a House committee that bank accounts were now unfrozen.
Assistant Deputy Minister of Finance Isabelle Jacques said the RCMP on Monday sent information to the banks about people whose accounts should no longer be affected.
“The vast majority of accounts are being unblocked,” she said.
Jacques said that only the accounts of people who participated in or contributed to the blockade after February 15 would have been affected, and even then it is possible, but very unlikely, that accounts were frozen for people who donated very small amounts.
A total of 206 accounts involving $7.8 million were affected, she said.
Tory MP Philip Lawrence said “Canadians are afraid” that even a small convoy donation could ruin them financially, but Jacques said that was unlikely.
King appeared in person for his day-long bail hearing and had to be reminded by the justice of the peace to wear a mask during the proceedings due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Video: Threat of Criminal Charges, Vehicle Seizures Won’t Deter Ottawa Protesters (cbc.ca)
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King, who is known for promoting racist conspiracy theories online, sat in the prisoners’ box in a gray hoodie emblazoned with the word Odin.
At one point, King’s attorney tersely told him to shut up, saying it was not his time to testify.
Kerry Komix, an Alberta resident, offers to bail out King, who is from Red Deer, if he is released on bail. According to the plan, King would live in her home in a spare bedroom and wear an electronic tracking bracelet.
Komix said she would make sure King met all bail conditions and attended future court dates or risk forfeiting a $50,000 pledge.
“As soon as he is released, he will be in my custody 24 hours a day,” she said.
Komix said she was a light sleeper and had an attentive dog.
“I don’t see any way he could rape it without my knowledge,” she said. “I will be able to hear every move he makes.”
Under cross-examination, Komix said she had known King for four weeks, having herself traveled to Ottawa as part of the truck convoy.
This prompted Crown attorney Moiz Karimjee to further question how Komix really knows King, as well as his own beliefs.
The Crown released a video of King making derogatory statements about different races and appearing pleased that a court order was required earlier this month to clamp down on protest truck honking.
Komix said that the king she knows loves all races.
Karimjee described King as self-centered, saying there was a high likelihood he would commit offenses if released on bail.
“He was at war with the city of Ottawa,” Karimjee said, saying King was facing a lengthy prison sentence.
“This person is not controllable by court order.”
Kings’ attorney Cal Rosemond dismissed the idea of a serious prison sentence, arguing that the Crown had not even presented evidence that his client had pledged to block roads or honk his horn loudly.
Komix would be a “very strong guarantee,” Rosemond said.
During a break in the proceedings, King received documents from the Ottawa law firm headed by Paul Champ, which is pursuing a civil action against protest organizers on behalf of downtown residents.
King was arrested on Friday and faces charges of mischief, counseling to commit mischief, counseling to commit the offense of disobeying a court order and counseling to obstruct police.
Lich, who lives in Medicine Hat, Alta., was arrested last Thursday and charged with counseling to commit mischief.
In addition to holding Lich in custody, Bourgeois ordered Lich to have no contact with King or fellow convoy organizers Benjamin Dichter, Christopher Barber, and Daniel Bulford.
Barber was arrested the same day as Lich and released on bail on Saturday.
Ottawa police said in a statement Monday that officers made 196 arrests, including 110 facing various charges.
Police also said 115 vehicles linked to the protest had been towed away.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on February 22, 2022.
Mia Rabson and Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press