Criminal charges against Windsor protestor diverted through alternative measures regime.
WINDSOR: Criminal charges of mischief and disobeying court order were withdrawn against Benjamin Lockstein in a Windsor courtroom on Thursday, September 14, after he made a $500 donation to a cat shelter.
The charges were dropped as part of “alternative measures,” which are defined in the Criminal Code as measures other than judicial proceedings used to deal with an adult person alleged to have committed an offence. Alternative measures do not require the accused to make any admissions, nor do they result in a finding of guilt or a criminal record. They do require the accused person to “accept responsibility” for the act or omission that forms the basis of the alleged offence, and they can only be used where doing so would not be inconsistent with the protection of society.
Mr. Lockstein’s trial was scheduled to begin on September 14 in the Ontario Court of Justice, and it was expected to last three days. The Democracy Fund (TDF) lawyers were packing their bags to head to Windsor when the agreement was made with the crown to use alternative measures.
“We believe Mr. Lockstein would have been acquitted had he proceeded to trial,” says Alan Honner, TDF’s litigation director and lawyer for Lockstein. According to Honner, Lockstein, a retired truck driver, was arrested during the protests while he was walking on the grassy median between northbound and southbound traffic on Huron Church Road. “The crown would have had to establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Lockstein obstructed, interrupted or interfered with traffic prior to his arrest, and that he had the requisite criminal intent to do so.”
Lockstein is one of 13 clients TDF represents in relation to the Freedom Convoy protests that took place in Windsor in February 2022. So far, two other TDF clients have had their charges withdrawn, one of whom was arrested on the sidewalk. In those other two cases, the charges were unqualifiedly withdrawn, with the crown citing “no reasonable prospect of conviction.”
“The mere act of attending a protest is not a criminal offence,” says Honner. “But that’s the impression people might get when the police arrest protestors on the sidewalk or the median. That’s why it’s important for civil rights groups like TDF to get involved.”
About The Democracy Fund:
Founded in 2021, The Democracy Fund (TDF) is a Canadian charity dedicated to constitutional rights, advancing education and relieving poverty. TDF promotes constitutional rights through litigation and public education. TDF supports an access to justice initiative for Canadians whose civil liberties have been infringed by government lockdowns and other public policy responses to the pandemic.