Lich Trial Highlights: September 20, 2023

On Day 11 of the trial, court began with some discussion between Magas and the crown regarding the disclosure of evidence related to Mr. Ayotte.

Greenspon said he was surprised to see that Ayotte appeared in court again without any notes. The crown requested to await these notes and some additional disclosure from Ayotte before continuing their examination. After a break, Ayotte returned to court and indicated that this time, he brought emails, notes, and a WhatsApp conversation as evidence he intended to rely on, although he also mentioned that he did not bring all of it.

He discussed his interaction with Chris Barber during the convoy and his goal of removing vehicles from residential areas. The crown presented text messages between Ayotte and Barber, which showed Ayotte expressing gratitude for moving a number of trucks. He testified about observing trucks parked in a way that allowed for more trucks during his walks and mentioned observing honking horns, diesel fumes, and illegal parking on February 11, 2022.

Ayotte testified that he observed people engaging in various activities without permits, including playing music and dancing. When asked by Justice Perkins-McVey if dancing required a permit, Ayotte replied that dancing in the streets did require a permit. He mentioned seeing a kitchen on February 6 that he had requested to be removed but was still present. Additionally, he observed firewood piles, a structure on the roadway, and a flatbed truck that was eventually used to remove these materials.

Ayotte referred to a photo that showed blocked emergency lanes. He testified that he heard horns constantly during the first week of the protest, from 7 am to 9 pm on some nights. He observed truck congestion, both during his walks and by watching CCTV cameras. Ayotte noted that there were different convoys at different times throughout the event, as well as illegally parked trucks, bouncy castles, and hot tubs.

Ayotte confirmed that he had met with POEC (Public Order Emergency Commission) counsel and provided them with a sworn statement. He acknowledged that all operational decisions, including ticketing, towing, fire safety, keeping peace, maintaining public order, and crowd control, were made by OPS (Ottawa Police Service).

Ayotte agreed that while protesters were not required to obtain permits for protests, he maintained that permits were necessary for dancing in the streets. Ayotte further admitted that he was aware of an email stating that protesters planned to stay in Ottawa for 30 days or more, but he believed it was only going to be a two-day event. Greenspon challenged Ayotte's understanding, stating that his testimony in the statement indicated that he only had intelligence about truckers booking extended stays.

He stated that he was not aware of a police operational traffic plan until the POEC. When Greenspon asked if Ayotte was telling the court under oath that he was not aware of the police traffic plan, Ayotte clarified that he was not aware of the “specific document” until the POEC. Perkins-McVey asked if Ayotte had worked together with the police on the traffic plan, to which he responded affirmatively but stated that he did not have access to the police traffic plan. Ayotte acknowledged that the police traffic plan directed convoy vehicles into the city of Ottawa, including large trucks. He further admitted that during the convoy, he was aware of police actions in this regard.

Greenspon presented Ayotte with a note he wrote on January 26, 2022. In the note, Ayotte describes the convoy as a significant and ongoing event that could continue for an extended period. This may contradict Ayotte's earlier testimony, where he stated that he believed the convoy would only last for two days.

Ayotte acknowledged that on January 27, 2022, he made a note stating that emergency routes were kept open. He attributes receiving this information to former Ottawa police Chief Sloly. Ayotte also agreed that some streets were closed before the convoy's arrival, a decision made by the OPS. Ayotte also confirmed that the city never erected barriers to prevent the entry of convoy vehicles into downtown Ottawa at any point during the event.

Ayotte additionally confirmed that on January 29, 2022, there was an emergency control group meeting, during which the OPS instructed the city not to ticket or tow convoy vehicles without police approval.

During a meeting attended by Ayotte on February 4, 2022, maintaining an emergency lane through downtown Ottawa was discussed. Ayotte admitted that the convoy organizers agreed to maintain this emergency lane, and they did so throughout the “relevant” period.

There were redacted portions in Ayotte's notes from February 6 and 7, 2022, and he stated that he didn't know who made these redactions. In his February 6 notes, Ayotte mentioned that there was "virtually no honking," a statement he attributed to an individual named Rob Stewart, who Ayotte believes is a federal government employee. On February 8, 2022, Ayotte wrote in his notes, questioning whether the absence of honking was due to the injunction. Another notation on February 8, 2022, referred to an agreement between the convoy and police, resulting in the removal of 67 trucks through negotiations with the police liaison teams.

Ayotte agreed that the protest leaders were concerned about maintaining the safety lanes and had raised this issue with him. He further confirmed that during the POEC, he testified that the reason why vehicles were not towed from Ottawa was primarily due to the fact that emergency routes were being sufficiently maintained by the convoy participants. He agreed that this was also his testimony in this trial.

Disclaimer: Please remember this update is given for information purposes only. It is not legal advice. If you have a legal issue, you should consult a lawyer for specific advice.

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