Chris Barber, one of the principal organizers of the so-called “freedom convoy,” is being released on bail on the conditions that he imminently leaves Ottawa and no longer supports the downtown blockades.
Barber was released from police custody after a court hearing in Ottawa late Friday afternoon.
His bail bond is set at $100,000, with his wife set as a surety. He is instructed to leave the city within 24 hours and the province of Ontario within five days.
He must also, under the order of Justice Julie Bourgeois, no longer directly or indirectly support the ongoing blockades in downtown Ottawa, which police launched operations to clear earlier in the day on Friday.
The only exception is to pay for some gas from his own funds to any truckers that follow him back to his hometown.
Barber, a trucker from Saskatchewan, told the court that he was no longer interested in orchestrating any blockades, despite being one of the primary leaders of the so-called “freedom convoy.”
“My organizing days are done. I just want to go home,” he said.
Bourgeois said she was satisfied that he was genuine in his desire to head home and there was no “substantial likelihood” that he would commit any criminal offence if released.
Barber was arrested Thursday and was charged with counselling to commit mischief, to disobey a court order and to obstruct police. A fourth charge of mischief was laid against him Friday.
One of his co-organizers, Tamara Lich, was also scheduled to appear in court Friday following her arrest on Thursday night and subsequent charge of counselling to commit mischief.
Lich, an Alberta resident, was to be spoken to in court after Barber’s hearing ended. Lawyers agreed to move the hearing to Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. instead as Barber’s proceedings ran into Friday evening.
Police have meanwhile been mobilizing in the downtown core and have made more than 100 arrests by 6:30 p.m. ET. The action follows days of issuing warnings to demonstrators that they would be charged if they chose not to leave the blockades of their own accord.
Another convoy organizer, Pat King, was livestreaming on Facebook when he said that he, too, was being arrested.
On the stream, an officer is heard outside the window of King’s vehicle listing charges of mischief and counselling to commit mischief, obstruct a police officer and disobey a court order.
Another condition of Barber’s bail is that he cannot contact Lich, King or another organizer, Daniel Bulford, without the presence of counsel related to discuss matters related to the “freedom convoy” corporation.
Barber’s next court appearance is set for March 1.
— with files from Global’s Amanda Connolly and Sean Boynton