OTTAWA, Ontario (LifeSiteNews) –– During the ninth day of the trial of Freedom Convoy leaders Tamara Lich and Chris Barber, a Quebec police captain deployed to the “front line” of the protest admitted that he was able to break for lunch during the crackdown despite the fact that his orders to him came in “military-style.”
Captain Etienne Martel with Surete du Quebec, the province’s provincial police force, led a squad of some 45 officers who were brought in to assist the Ottawa Police around February 18, 2022, for the last three days of the protest. Their job was to disperse the Freedom Convoy protesters and stop them from making any more advancements towards Parliament.
During Martel’s testimony, while being questioned by the Crown, he admitted that orders for him to direct his “green squad,” as they were known, came from a “command center,” and were done in a “military-style” format. His orders were to stay about 15 feet behind the front line and simply “make a line” to try and push back protestors.
The court learned that Martel’s team was not wearing body cameras and that he was not even able to state how many protesters were present.
Martel also testified that he did not make any arrests but did see some taking place.
The Democracy Fund (TDF), who is crowdfunding Lich’s legal costs, reported in its day nine court update that Justice Heather Perkins-McVey was not happy that Martel wanted to use notes about the protests written by a team of crowd control officers instead of relying on his own testimony.
Usually, officer witnesses are only allowed to rely upon concurrent handwritten notes from their duty book during testimony.
The defense objected to Martel trying not to speak from his own recollection of events, which ultimately led to Perkins-McVey ruling that the officer could only use personally verified documents as testimony.
Police captain admits his squad was able to break for ‘lunch’ in the middle of the protest
During cross-examination by Lich’s lawyer Lawrence Greenspon, Martel admitted that he did not know any of the 13 locations of the Freedom Convoy in Ottawa.
Greenspon, as noted by the TDF, suggested that the “demonstration must have been peaceful since Martel and his entire green squadron were able to leave the front line and go for lunch.”
Martel told the court that he was told to go for a “boxed lunch” at the nearby Chateau Laurier. This prompted Greenspon to ask him if the protesters were also breaking for “lunch,” to which Martel responded that he was not sure.
Martel also said that he had no notes from a meeting he had with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and other police officers, and that there were no recordings of radio exchanges between himself and his command. He also admitted that from his vantage point, it was difficult to see what the protesters in the “front line” were doing.
Both Lich and Barber were arrested before the large February 18 protest took place. Much of the Crown’s case rests on it trying to say that Lich and Barder had encouraged the protesters not to move, through earlier words spoken to “hold the line.”
However, during cross-examination, Martel admitted that he used the same “hold the line” expression in French – “garder la ligne” – multiple times while commanding his squad.
Barber’s lawyer Diane Magas said that the phrase “hold the line” can mean many things to different people, and that the Freedom Convoy’s leaders use of the phrase did not mean that they were calling for people to break the law, as their charges allege.
Lich and Barber are facing multiple charges from the 2022 protests, including mischief, counseling mischief, counseling intimidation and obstructing police for taking part in and organizing the anti-mandate Freedom Convoy. As reported by LifeSiteNews at the time, despite the non-violent nature of the protest and the charges, Lich was jailed for weeks before she was granted bail.
The trial against Barber and Lich began September 5 and since Monday the Crown has only called three of some 22 witnesses. Greenspon has criticized the slow pace of the trial thus far.
Last Thursday, the court heard a Crown police witness say she did not keep a list of videos showing the protests despite being ordered to download the videos from a list she was given.
Sgt. Joanne Pilotte of the Ottawa Police Service concluded her testimony on behalf of the Crown and was cross-examined during the last portions of the “voir dire,” or, the trial within a trial. This “mini-trial” will determine whether certain social media posts provided by the Crown will be allowed as evidence.
As of the time of this report, Perkins-McVey has yet to make a ruling on whether to allow the social media postings to be submitted into court.