Convoy protest organizer Tamara Lich released on bail


Tamara Lich has been released on bail with a list of strict conditions, including an order that she leave Ottawa within 24 hours.

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Tamara Lich has been ordered to leave Ottawa within 24 hours and must return home to Medicine Hat, Alta., under the watchful supervision of a surety after she was released from custody Monday afternoon with a list of strict bail conditions.

Lich, 49, sat with her hands folded in her lap in the prisoner’s box as Superior Court Justice John Johnston read his ruling to overturn the Feb. 22 lower-court decision and grant bail to Lich, one of the most visible and vocal accused leaders of the so-called “Freedom Convoy.”

Johnston found that the previous judge who ordered Lich detained made “errors in law” that impacted her decision.

Lich’s Ottawa-based lawyer, Diane Magas, mounted a court challenge of the earlier decision by Ontario Court Justice Julie Bourgeois, who had denied Lich bail on the grounds she presented a “substantial risk to reoffend.”

Magas made allegations of judicial “bias” concerning the judge during last week’s bail-review hearing, and Lich testified she “would not have been comfortable” with the judge presiding over her case had she known that Bourgeois previously ran as a Liberal party candidate in the 2011 federal election.

Magas had produced a video of Justin Trudeau lavishing praise upon Bourgeois as a candidate — though the clip predated Trudeau’s time as party leader and as prime minister, and also predated Bourgeois’s appointment as a judge.

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Johnston said he found no merit to the allegation of bias involving the judge, calling it a “serious” and “misguided” allegation against a judge who is not allowed to make public comment on cases.

Judges “cannot defend themselves” when their integrity is questioned, he said.

“Litigants and lawyers ought to exercise care to raise such serious allegations only in instances where there’s evidence to support the allegation,” Johnston warned.

Bourgeois is a provincially appointed judge, and though it was not raised in court, Johnston was appointed to the Superior Court bench in 2010 under the federal Conservative government led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Johnston said his fellow judge was correct in ruling that Lich’s original surety, her husband, was “not suitable to manage or monitor” her release conditions.

Magas and Lich returned to court last week with a revised bail plan that includes a different proposed surety, a family member who pledged a $10,000 bond and said Lich would be under watchful supervision.

The judge said a cash bond was not necessary, but ordered the bond value doubled to $20,000. Lich was also ordered to post a $5,000 bond of her own.

“I find that Ms. Lich does require a level of supervision if released,” Johnston said, but that risk can be “managed” by the new court-approved surety.

He said the new surety appeared “sincere” and the judge believed the surety could manage Lich’s access to electronic devices under the revised bail plan.

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Johnston ordered Lich released after finding that Bourgeois “erred in law” during her decision, in particular in her analysis of the “gravity” of the offences and the likelihood of a lengthy prison term upon conviction.

Assistant Crown Attorney Moiz Karimjee has often stated throughout the related proceedings that the Crown would seek consecutive maximum sentences upon conviction for the mischief and counselling to commit mischief offences.

“I find that it’s not likely that this accused would face a potential lengthy imprisonment,” Johnston ruled Monday. “It’s highly unlikely that this 49-year-old accused (Lich), with no prior criminal record, who has a job, would face a penitentiary sentence. It’s unlikely that would happen.”

Bourgeois, according to Johnston’s ruling, “did not engage” in a proper analysis and that contributed to the error in law.
He ordered the judge’s initial ruling overturned, asked Lich if she agreed to abide by the conditions and wished her a quick, “Good luck,” as she left the courtroom.

According to the lengthy list of conditions, Lich must be outside of Ontario within 72 hours and must alert Ottawa police with an update each day of her journey home. She can’t enter the province again without notifying local police.

Once back in Alberta, she must reside at her home address and cannot live anywhere else, except with her court-approved surety. Lich will be forbidden from posting messages, images or even logging onto social media, and cannot allow anyone to post on her behalf, according to Johnston’s ruling.

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She cannot promote or indicate her approval of any “Freedom Convoy” activities or other future protests regarding COVID-19 measures for the duration of the court order.

She was also forbidden from contacting a list of alleged fellow convoy organizers, including Pat King, Chris Barber and Tyson Billings.

She was notably barred from contacting a list of alleged organizers who have not been charged with any offences related to the protest, including Daniel Bulford, Benjamin Dichter, Owen Swiderski, Tom Marazzo and Karrie Komix.

Komix, one of the latest names to be added to the non-communication order requested by the Crown, had previously testified in King’s bail hearing and had proposed to act as his surety. That bail plan was rejected by a justice of the peace and King remains in custody.

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