Tamara Lich ‘did not control’ convoy demonstrators, inquiry hears

Click to play video: '‘I never had any active-duty officers leaking me any sensitive information’: Former RCMP officer Daniel Bulford'
‘I never had any active-duty officers leaking me any sensitive information’: Former RCMP officer Daniel Bulford
Testifying Friday at the inquiry into the government's invocation of the Emergencies Act, former RCMP officer Daniel Bulford said he “never had any active-duty officers leaking me any sensitive information.” Bulford did say that former officers and officers on leave, as well as former military, helped him with some security tasks – Nov 4, 2022

Prominent “Freedom Convoy” organizer Tamara Lich told the Emergencies Act inquiry she “did not control” the demonstrators that snarled the streets in downtown Ottawa for three weeks earlier this year.

She made the comment during her cross examination at the Public Order Emergency Commission on Friday, where she was pressed about her leadership role as the demonstration dragged on.

While counsel for the Ottawa Police Service showed the inquiry evidence of instances during which negotiators logged their attempts to convince the protesters to leave, Lich insisted she had “never been told to leave.”

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But when the Ottawa Police Service lawyer presented Lich with evidence that the Police Liaison Team spoke with her and had logged in their notes that she was asked to leave, Lich did acknowledge she had a “discussion” with the PLT.

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“I, as (the note log) says, became very upset. I believe I said something to the effect of ‘I cannot believe that you’re about to do this to your own people,'” Lich said.

“I was upset and I was crying.”

When pressed by the OPS counsel about whether she was crying because the protest was “over” and she was told to “leave,” Lich pushed back.

“I was upset and I was crying because of what they were proposing to do to Canadian citizens,” she said.

Click to play video: '‘We never wanted to gridlock the city’: ‘Freedom Convoy’ leader Tamara Lich tells commission'
‘We never wanted to gridlock the city’: ‘Freedom Convoy’ leader Tamara Lich tells commission

The OPS lawyer said in response that Lich had a memory that is “selective,” an accusation that prompted an objection from the lawyer representing the convoy organizers.

Meanwhile, Lich doubled down on her assertion that she could not be held responsible for demonstrators refusing to leave.

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“They’re all human beings. I don’t control anyone,” she said.

Lich also distanced herself from the participants accused of violent behaviour, insisting she was advocating for “peace” throughout the protest.

Counsel for the federal government told Lich about a video that OPP intelligence had identified to the inquiry, which said that a “driver at the blockade had made inflammatory statements referencing violence such as such as using a truck as a weapon.”

“The video also showed him displaying a protective vest, which he claimed would stop an armor piercing round. He claimed … he brought it with him to protect himself, and that he had worn it at the blockade,” the lawyer said, quoting the OPP document.

“OPP field officers have spoken with this male and his truck has been positioned in front of Chateau Laurier since the beginning of the protest.

Lich responded that this was “new information” for her.

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The convoy organizer also said that, at the time, she wasn’t aware of the death threats that had been directed at former Ottawa mayor Jim Watson, former Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

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“I was also receiving death threats,” Lich added.

Lich told the inquiry Thursday that she joined the convoy after failing to get a response from members of Parliament she contacted about ending COVID-19 restrictions.

Jeremy MacKenzie, the founder of the online group “Diagolon,” is also expected to testify by video conference from a Saskatchewan prison.

The commission confirmed Thursday that MacKenzie, who is facing charges unrelated to the convoy, will testify publicly despite his bid to speak before the inquiry under a publication ban.

Other protesters on the witness list today are Chris Deering, Maggie Hope Braun and Daniel Bulford, a former RCMP officer who was on the prime minister’s security detail and quit after refusing to get vaccinated for COVID-19.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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