Lich awaits Friday bail decision after Crown produces texts discussing strategy to ‘gridlock’ city

Lich was arrested in Medicine Hat on June 27, and police escorted her to Ottawa on a Canada-wide warrant after she was charged with breaching one of her bail conditions, which bars her from making any direct or indirect contact with fellow convoy organizers.

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Tamara Lich will learn on Friday whether she will be released or whether she will remain in custody at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre after her lawyers mounted a lengthy challenge to the Crown’s latest bid to return the accused “Freedom Convoy” leader to jail.

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Assistant Crown Attorney Moiz Karimjee produced new evidence in court on Tuesday with a series of text messages from Lich to co-accused organizer Chris Barber, including one Jan. 23 exchange where she references a strategic decision to “gridlock” the city during the three-week convoy demonstration.

“They have a strategy to gridlock the city,” Lich wrote. “I don’t want to make those decisions on my own.”

Lich was arrested in Medicine Hat, Alta., on June 27, and police escorted her to Ottawa on a Canada-wide warrant after she was charged with breaching one of her bail conditions, which bars her from making any direct or indirect contact with fellow convoy organizers.

The Crown previously sought to revoke Lich’s bail and return her to jail in May over another alleged breach when she accepted an invitation to a gala in Toronto hosted by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.

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The judge in that bail review found no breach and allowed Lich to attend the gala, which she did on June 16 as a guest of honour.

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Karimjee on Tuesday played a video from that gala of Lich’s acceptance speech for the JCCF’s “Freedom Award.” The clip continues with Lich returning to her place at the head table, where she is greeted by Maxime Bernier then is seen having a brief congratulatory exchange with Tom Marazzo, who is also seated at the table.

Marazzo is among the list of people associated with the convoy leadership that Lich is forbidden from contacting, according to her release conditions, unless she in the presence of a lawyer.

Karimjee also produced a photo from the event of a group that includes Lich and Marazzo — which was widely-circulated on social media — as evidence of the alleged breach.

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Lich’s lawyer, Lawrence Greenspon, argued those actions were “so minuscule” that they were never intended to be covered by the release conditions and “ought not to be prosecuted,” he said.

“Does this court really need to detain Ms. Lich for what she did in Toronto?” Greenspon asked. “To do so … detention on that basis is not justified and would bring the administration of justice into disrepute. (These are) actions which were never intended to be precluded under the conditions of her release.”

The release conditions include a non-communication order restricting Lich from contacting several key convoy organizers, but contains an exception for contact “through (legal) counsel or in the presence of counsel.”

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That clause was open to interpretation from both Crown and defence.

Greenspon questioned Det. Chris Benson, the lead investigator on the convoy cases for the Ottawa Police Service, and suggested Lich had lawyers present at the gala from the JCCF — who have acknowledged funding her legal defence and are representing her in related civil proceedings.

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Karimjee argued the exception was granted “only for discussing legal issues (with counsel); not for posing for photographs.”

The Crown further pointed to the newly-unearthed text messages and said Lich had repeatedly demonstrated a lack of respect for the justice system and the rule of law.

“These texts — and a lot of the other evidence — builds up to a mountain of evidence … a truckload of evidence,” Karimjee said.

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Lich’s court-approved surety, whose identity is shielded by a publication ban, admitted it “absolutely” raised concerns when the photo of Lich and Marazzo surfaced.

Lich, according to testimony, “assured” the surety that she had proper approval from her legal counsel and that lawyers were standing just out of frame when the picture was taken.

The surety has already posted a $20,000 bond, which could be forfeited, and said they would be willing to post another $37,000 for Lich’s new charge. That bond, according to the surety’s testimony, would drain a pension and life savings.

Greenspon downplayed the video clip as “a congratulatory interaction (with Marazzo) that lasted less than three seconds.”

Greenspon said Lich has already spent nine days in jail over the alleged breach — 12 days by the time the decision is rendered — after being arrested on an “unprecedented” Canada-wide warrant.

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“This is the third attempt to put her back in jail,” Greenspon said. “The Crown is trying to convince the court these are among the most serious breaches, and she’s already spent nine days in jail over a congratulatory exchange. This is so minimal that, if there was any communication, it was in the presence of counsel, or of such momentary passing value, and not contrary to the purpose of the non-communication order.”

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Justice of the Peace Paul Harris said he compiled more than 40 pages of notes as he presided over Tuesday’s full-day hearing and told court he would return Friday with a decision.

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