The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is pleased to announce that the Crown has stayed 49 charges against seven Freedom Convoy protestors who took part in a peaceful protest in Ottawa. In the past two weeks, the Crown stayed these charges due to a lack of evidence. The seven protestors participated in the peaceful Ottawa protest that occurred in January to February 2022, and saw thousands of truckers and Canadians assemble to protest government covid restrictions and vaccine mandates. The protestors were charged with mischief, mischief to property, disobeying a lawful order, and obstruction of a peace officer. All seven maintain their innocence and believe that the right to peaceful protest is essential for a healthy democracy.
The Justice Centre retained Ottawa lawyer Ms. Monick Grenier to represent Mr. Rob McGown, Mr. Nick Moir, and Mr. Michael Flannery, among others. Ms. Diane Magas was retained to represent Mr. Alexandru Naiche and Mr. Mathieu Monette.
The Ottawa Freedom Convoy was a peaceful demonstration that lasted for three weeks from January until February 2022. Protestors gathered in front of Federal Parliament headquarters to protest the federal government’s vaccination mandates. No criminal charges were laid for weeks against the protestors. On February 14, 2022, the Government of Canada declared a public order emergency under the Emergencies Act that was in effect until February 23, 2022. Using this declaration as a pretext, law enforcement cracked down on the peaceful demonstrators dramatically, including trampling a disabled elderly indigenous woman with a horse.
Mr. McGown, one of the protestors whose charges have been stayed, is a veteran with PTSD who guarded the Tomb of the Unknown Solider with other veterans during the protest. On February 18, 2022, heavily armed police arrived to disperse the protestors not far from the Tomb. Mr. McGown was arrested as a result.
Mr. Flannery is another protestor, from Verdin, Manitoba and works as a technician installing flow lines in the oil patch. He is 36 years old, married with three children. He saw the divisiveness of the vaccination mandates and was concerned about the direction the country was going. He believes that participating in legal protest and making his voice heard is a vital part of stopping this trajectory for the sake of his children.
The Crown stayed the charges because it lacked evidence to prosecute these protestors. A key piece of missing evidence are the arresting officer’s notes, which the Crown failed to obtain for all charges related to the seven protestors. Without these notes, the Crown could not prove the grounds for arrest or have a reasonable chance of conviction. In Mr. Monette’s case, the Crown could not obtain the identity of the arresting RCMP officers nor provide details of the arrest.
The Justice Centre will be participating in the Emergencies Act inquiry, and will make evidentiary, factual and legal submissions, submit policy papers, suggest and cross-examine witnesses, and/or participate in policy roundtables and deliberations. The public hearing will be livestreamed starting September 19, 2022.