OTTAWA — An Ottawa police liaison officer testifying in the trial of Chris Barber and Tamara Lich agreed on Wednesday that none of the protesters he communicated with indicated they were participating in the "Freedom Convoy" because they were influenced by the high-profile organizers.
Acting Sgt. Jordan Blonde, who described himself as a "secondary" contact to Barber, confirmed as much when prompted with a question from defence lawyer Lawrence Greenspon, who is representing Lich.
Defence lawyers began their cross-examination of Blonde on Wednesday, and he told the court there were multiple groups and factions attending the demonstrations.
Blonde said he believes that not all protesters had the same "wishes or desires," but that they had the same "general reasoning" for demonstrating.
He said the convoy "generated quite a bit of interest," but some people he spoke with seemed to be attending out of a general interest in the event rather than because they had strongly held views about the protest's goals.
He described Barber as polite and respectful and "very amenable" to working with police, based on the interactions they had during the protests.
Lawyers have said they will not be able to complete their cross-examination of Blonde and two other liaison officers until the judge makes a ruling on the admissibility of police documents.
Justice Heather Perkins-McVey ordered access on Tuesday to unredacted documents, which the Crown and Ottawa Police Service argue are covered by solicitor-client privilege, to determine whether they should be admitted as evidence in the trial.
Barber and Lich face multiple charges, including mischief, counselling others to commit mischief and intimidation in relation to the 2022 protests against COVID-19 public-health measures.
The Crown is seeking to prove that Lich and Barber exerted influence over protesters' actions.
The trial is scheduled to resume on Friday, when Perkins-McVey said she will likely deliver her decision on the admissibility of the internal police documents as evidence.
Defence lawyers' cross-examination of Const. Nicole Bach, who was the main contact for Barber during the convoy, is also set to begin later in the day.
In Bach's earlier testimony, she said Barber had expressed the convoy was getting "out of control" in its early days, and that protestors said they wanted to be acknowledged by the federal government before vacating the downtown.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 1, 2023.
The Canadian Press