Leslyn Lewis: Was Tamara Lich a Political prisoner?
By Leslyn Lewis
A political prisoner is defined as “a person imprisoned for their political beliefs and actions.”
This definition begs the question of whether Trucker Convoy organizer Tamara Lich is a political prisoner.
In a previous letter, I outlined the fact that the first judge who detained Tamara was a former Liberal candidate, and the crown attorney who prosecuted Tamara had donated over $17,000 to the Liberal Party since 2013.
The fact that that we have to ask if Canada has political prisoners, speaks to the state of our declining democracy. But there seems to be no depth that Justin Trudeau and the Liberals will not sink to in order to control our thoughts, actions and even our democratic institutions.
We never imagined our government would invoke the Emergencies Act without exhausting existing options and without a request from law enforcement – but that happened.
We also never conceived that Canadians could be targeted for their political views, their property confiscated and their bank accounts frozen out of a political vendetta – but that too occurred in our democracy.
These events have sent tremors into the hearts of Canadians, some of whom have picked up and left this country out of fear that we are descending into a full-blown dictatorship. Some patriots I’ve met have even been put on a terrorist watch list just for attending the Freedom Convoy protest.
Tamara was recently released from jail after being arrested for allegedly breaching her bail conditions at a civil liberties awards gala event. Tamara, who is a 49-year-old Métis grandmother with no criminal record, spent 49 days in jail awaiting trial for charges stemming from her role as a Freedom Convoy organizer.
The Crown argued that she was a danger to the public and would likely re-offend, despite the fact that all of her charges were non-violent in nature.
In this extraordinary case, Tamara appeared before the court 5 times relating to bail conditions – [see the table summary of her case at the bottom of this email].
A Political Prisoner? Summary of the Evidence
Here are the facts leading up to Tamara’s latest arrest and bail hearings:
Tamara’s original bail conditions prohibited her from communicating with any convoy organizers EXCEPT in the presence of her lawyer or through her lawyer. The alleged bail breach happened at a civil liberties awards gala where Tamara was receiving an award on June 16th, 2022; she was seen interacting with fellow convoy leader, Tom Marazzo. There were pictures and a video that showed her sitting at the same table as Mr. Marazzo and giving her acceptance speech. Upon returning to the table, she passes by Mr. Marazzo, touches his back and whispers something in his ear. The entire interaction lasted no more than 3 seconds. No breaches were related to the content of her speech. An Ontario warrant for her arrest was issued on June 22nd. In an unorthodox move, on June 24th the Ottawa Crown Attorney extended the warrant to Canada-wide status so Tamara could be arrested in Alberta. However, still without a valid warrant that could be executed in Alberta, Tamara was still arrested by police in Medicine Hat on June 27th. The following day, the Crown in Alberta obtained a remand “to enable police in Ontario to get the warrant endorsed for arrest in Alberta. Two investigators in the homicide unit with the Ottawa Police Service, travelled to Alberta to execute the warrant once it had been endorsed for execution in Alberta” and they returned Tamara to Ontario.
In his ruling, Superior Court Justice Andrew Goodman found the Justice of the Peace who had previously denied Tamara bail had “overstated” the impact of the contact made between Tamara and Marazzo at the gala. Justice Goodman rejected the Justices of the Peace’s conclusion that “vulnerable victims of the February freedom trucker convoy protest” would continue to live in fear of a “re-occurrence of the protests…”.
Justice Goodman took issue with the Justice of the Peace’s reliance upon an irrational fear. He stated:
“It is not reasonable to draw the inference that an interaction of less than three seconds in public at an awards ceremony as well as a group photograph and related, albeit brief contact giving rise to the potential for a breach of terms would reasonably cause such fear.”
Justice Goodman emphasized the presumption of innocence that is entrenched in our Charter and noted that it is important not confuse bail with being on trial: “…whether or not the applicant participated in any criminal conduct will ultimately fall to be decided by a trial court.”
Justice Goodman scolded the Justice of the Peace, he state that:
“I find that the Justice of the Peace’s reasons suffer from erroneous conclusions of the relevant legal issues and he misapprehended the evidence when addressing the secondary and tertiary ground concerns. As the Justice of the Peace’s decision is clearly inappropriate, the detention order must be set aside.”
He also dismissed the concern that Tamara was a danger to the public – and noted that she abided by strict bail terms for 4 months, and she sought permission before attending the gala.
Justice Goodman echoed a previous bail decision by Justice Phillips stating:
“The bail process is not the forum to address the myriad of opinion or issues arising from Ms. Lich’s or the Freedom Convoy’s disruption of the public peace or behaviour or to advance a political or social position one way or the other. I also agree with Phillips J. that no court would ever seek to control the possession or manifestation of political views.” (emphasis added)
The issue of public fear was raised in every bail hearing and also by the Justice of the Peace that oversaw the warrant. Justice Goodman reminds us of the importance of balancing fears with the presumption of innocence and upholding the Charter:
“In my opinion, a reasonable member of the community, informed of the principles of fundamental justice and Charter values and who appreciates the presumption of innocence and the constitutional right to reasonable bail would not view Ms. Lich’s release with great shock and indignation.”
So, the answer is yes. Tamara does meet the definition of a political prisoner – she was imprisoned for her political beliefs and actions. In fact, two agents of the court had Liberal ties and did not recuse themselves from Tamara’s case. In addition, she was arrested in Alberta before a valid warrant in Alberta was issued. And, the grounds cited by the Justice of the Peace in denying her bail were clearly flawed.
Finally, two judges – Justice Phillips and Justice Goodman – made reference to the fact that people cannot be jailed because of their political beliefs. This was a clear sign that the Liberal political vendetta had infested our legal system, and it took two judges to call it out and bring balance back to the justice system and remind us all that “no court would ever seek to control the possession or manifestation of political views“.
Sadly, over the past two years under COVID-19, Justin Trudeau and the Liberals have created an environment that has undermined our institutions for political gains. Under the guise of protecting people’s health and safety, we have seen the erosion of our constitutional rights, and seen our justice system, law enforcement, health system and media weaponized to silence political opponents.
This environment normalized charging and disciplining doctors with dissenting opinions, charging pastors who held outdoor drive-in services for their church members, freezing bank accounts and confiscating property of protesters, publicly shaming and disclosing the addresses of people who donated to a democratic movement, and numerous other public character assassinations. This Liberal government even barred duly elected Members of Parliament from taking their seat in the House of Commons in the name of public health even though they knew that the vaccine did not prevent transmission of covid.
These dictatorial acts have dangerously eroded the foundations of our democracy and the rule of law. The Liberals penchant for weaponizing institutions to silence their political opponents is undermining the very pillars that should be holding society together.
Tamara Lich is just one example of what happens when government uses its power to control Canadians, to inflame hate and division and to infest independent institutions with political operatives.
The only solution to cure the fragility of our democracy is to have citizens of all political stripes acknowledge the dangerous course that we are on, and to have courageous leaders involve checks and balances that will compel institutional actors to publicly declare conflicts as well as amend the Emergencies Act to require a minimum of 2/3 of parliament to invoke it.
I am ready to do this. Are you with me?