Ottawa

Tamara Lich remains in jail as decision on alleged bail breach expected Friday

Tamara Lich will remain in jail until at least Friday, when a justice of the peace is set to share his decision on whether she breached her bail conditions by appearing alongside a fellow Freedom Convoy leader at an awards gala.

Court hears about January text from Lich on strategy to 'gridlock' the city

Freedom Convoy organizer Tamara Lich talks to reporters Feb. 14, 2022 in Ottawa. Lich remains in custody, awaiting a decision on an alleged bail breach that's expected Friday. (Frédéric Pepin/Radio-Canada)

Tamara Lich will remain in jail until at least Friday, when a justice of the peace is set to share his decision on whether she breached her bail conditions by appearing alongside a fellow Freedom Convoy leader at an awards gala in June.

Lich appeared virtually in an Ottawa court Tuesday for her fourth bail hearing since she was first arrested in February.

Crown prosecutor Moiz Karimjee said a photo and video showing Lich at the Toronto gala, posing with, and briefly speaking to, Tom Marazzo were a "flagrant" breach. He argued Lich should be detained.

But defence lawyer Lawrence Greenspon said Lich's actions were "minimalist at worst" and didn't amount to a violation, so she should be released with conditions.

Lich was taken into custody in Medicine Hat, Alta., on June 27 after Ottawa police issued a Canada-wide warrant for her arrest.

She faces charges of mischief, counselling mischief, obstructing police, counselling to obstruct police, counselling intimidation, and intimidation by blocking and obstructing one or more highways in relation to the protest that shut down parts of Ottawa for roughly three weeks this past winter.

On Tuesday, Greenspon argued the time Lich has spent in custody since she was arrested "far exceeds the seriousness" of her conduct.

"She's spent nine days in jail until now for a congratulatory exchange and for posing in a photo with someone she was not supposed to be in contact with," he said.

The exact wording of Lich's bail conditions were discussed at length during the hearing. They dictate she cannot contact or communicate in any way, by any physical, electronic or any other means, with a list of people associated with the convoy — including Marazzo — except through counsel or the presence of counsel.

Det. Chris Benson, lead investigator in the case, told the court Tuesday that police received "multiple complaints" Lich was allegedly breaching her bail conditions at the ceremony in Toronto on June 16.

Court was shown a video where Lich could be seen speaking with Marazzo for roughly three seconds.

"Surely you're not going to suggest … the contact that's referred to there is physical contact," Greenspon said to Benson, arguing the conditions referred to communication.

"They're present, together, and it's physical contact," the detective responded. "If they're in the same room socializing, that includes that."

Tamara Lich, fourth from the left, was ordered by a judge to have no contact with fellow convoy organizer Tom Marazzo, second from the right. This photo shows the group in Toronto after Lich accepted her freedom award from the JCCF. (Facebook/Stacey Kauder )

Greenspon said police can't hear what she said to Marazzo in the video. He also pressed the detective on whether he could identify lawyers with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF), which put on the event.

Benson said he could not, adding he was not aware of any of Lich's lawyers being in the video or photo taken that same night.

"She's sitting at a table with Mr. Marazzo at a social event, a gala. This is not a lawyer's office, this is not a boardroom," said Benson, explaining the basis for the warrant for her arrest.

"She's then photographed later that night with Mr. Marazzo, arm in arm."

'Strategy to gridlock the city'

A text message from Lich to Chris Barber, another convoy organizer, which was obtained through a police search of his cellphone, was also read out during the hearing.

"Awesome. Command Centre just called. Can you head over there with me soon," reads the message sent on Jan. 30. "They have a strategy to gridlock the city. I don't want to make those decisions on my own."

Greenspon, Lich's lawyer, argued it's not clear who "they" in that message refers to, adding it doesn't say it was Lich's strategy.

Karimjee reached a different conclusion and described the text as the "CN Tower" of his case and saying it shows Lich "is a decision maker in the command centre."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Taekema

Reporter

Dan Taekema is a reporter with CBC Ottawa. He has worked with CBC News in Hamilton, Windsor and Toronto and for newspapers around southern Ontario. You can reach him by emailing daniel.taekema@cbc.ca.

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