A pickup truck drives a highway between Vankleek Hill, Ont., and Ottawa, Monday, Feb. 21, 2022, after officers cleared a trucker protest from nearby Ottawa, that was aimed at COVID-19 measures before growing into a broader anti-government protest that occupied the nation capital’s downtown core. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

Key convoy organizer Tamara Lich denied bail while Patrick King appears in court

Key convoy organizer Tamara Lich denied bail while Patrick King appears in court

OTTAWA — One of the most visible organizers behind the protests against COVID-19 restrictions and the Liberal government near Parliament Hill was denied bail Tuesday.

An Ontario court judge said she believed there was a substantial likelihood Tamara Lich would commit offences if released.

Another key organizer, Patrick King, was in court for a bail hearing, where a woman who acknowledged she had only met him four weeks ago offered to be a surety, pledging half the value of her Alberta home to guarantee his bail.

The Crown argued for King’s continued detention, and the court is slated to rule on the matter Friday.

In Lich’s case, Justice Julie Bourgeois said the trucker convoy’s effect on Ottawa was immense and she felt Lich was obstinate and disingenuous in her responses to the court during her bail hearing, which took place Saturday.

“I cannot be reassured that if I release you into the community that you will not reoffend,” Bourgeois said.

“Your detention is necessary for the protection and safety of the public.”

While the bail proceedings progressed, outside the cleanup and recovery of downtown Ottawa continued apace following three weeks of blockades by big rigs that many called an occupation.

The Ottawa Police Service narrowed the size of the restricted area by several more blocks Tuesday to mainly the zone known as the parliamentary precinct, which includes the Hill.

Fencing remains in place around much of the district, and police cars and officers are still plentiful throughout the area, but there are fewer limitations on movement in the downtown core.

Federal Emergencies Act powers remain in place following a vote in the House of Commons on Monday night to confirm the law’s use. The Senate started its mandatory consideration of the provisions Tuesday morning.

But with the blockade over, a federal finance official told a House committee that bank accounts are now being unfrozen.

Assistant deputy minister of finance Isabelle Jacques said the RCMP sent information to banks Monday about people whose accounts should no longer be affected.

“The vast majority of accounts are in the process of being unfrozen,” she said.

Jacques said only the accounts of people who participated in or contributed to the blockade after Feb. 15 would have been affected, and even then it’s possible, but very unlikely, accounts were frozen for people who donated very small amounts.

A total of 206 accounts involving $7.8 million were affected, she said.

Conservative MP Philip Lawrence said “Canadians are afraid” that even a small donation to the convoy could ruin them financially, but Jacques said that is improbable.

King appeared in person for his daylong bail hearing and needed to be reminded by the justice of the peace to keep a mask on during the proceedings due to COVID-19 restrictions.

King, who has been known to promote racist conspiracy theories online, sat in the prisoners box in a grey hoodie emblazoned with the word Odin.

At one point King’s lawyer tersely directed him to be quiet, saying it was not his time to give evidence.

Alberta resident Kerry Komix is proposing to be a surety for King, who hails from Red Deer, should he be granted bail. Under the plan, King would live at her home in a spare room and wear an electronic tracking bracelet.

Komix said she would ensure King followed any bail conditions and attended future court dates, or she would risk forfeiting a $50,000 pledge.

“As soon as he’s released he will be in my 24-hour care,” she said.

Komix said she was a light sleeper and had an attentive dog.

“I don’t see any way he can breach it without my knowledge,” she said. “I will be able to hear every move that he makes.”

Under cross-examination, Komix said she had known King for four weeks, having travelled to Ottawa herself as part of the trucker convoy.

That prompted further questioning from Crown lawyer Moiz Karimjee about how well Komix really knows King, as well as about her own beliefs.

The Crown played video of King making derogatory statements about different races and appearing pleased that a court order had been required earlier this month to quell the honking of protest trucks.

Komix said the King she knows loves every race.

Karimjee described King as self-centred, saying there was a substantial likelihood he would commit offences if released on bail.

“He was at war with the City of Ottawa,” said Karimjee, claiming King could face a lengthy prison term.

“This person is not controllable by any court order.”

Kings’s lawyer, Cal Rosemond, dismissed the notion of serious prison time, arguing the Crown had not even presented evidence his client engaged in blocking roads or loud honking.

Komix would be a “very strong surety,” Rosemond said.

At a break in the proceedings, King was served with papers from the Ottawa law firm led by Paul Champ, which is spearheading a civil action against protest organizers on behalf of downtown residents.

King was arrested on Friday and faces charges of mischief, counselling to commit mischief, counselling to commit the offence of disobeying a court order and counselling to obstruct police.

Lich, who lives in Medicine Hat, Alta., was arrested last Thursday and charged with counselling to commit mischief.

In addition to holding Lich in custody, Bourgeois ordered Lich to have no contact with King or other convoy organizers Benjamin Dichter, Christopher Barber and Daniel Bulford.

Barber was arrested the same day as Lich and released on bail Saturday.

Ottawa police said in a statement Monday that officers have made 196 arrests, with 110 facing a variety of charges.

Police also said 115 vehicles connected to the protest have been towed.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 22, 2022.

Mia Rabson and Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press

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