During Day 12 of the trial, Greenspon continued his cross-examination of Ayotte. Ayotte acknowledged receiving a letter from Eva Chipiuk addressed to Mayor Jim Watson, which outlines safety measures taken during the protest. Ayotte confirmed an agreement was made between the mayor and Tamara Lich and his involvement in planning the implementation of this agreement.
The letter appears to outline the safety measures that individuals in the convoy took to ensure a safe and peaceful protest. It indicates that participants immediately reported any unlawful/unsafe events to police.— The Democracy Fund (@TDF_Can) September 21, 2023
Ayotte admitted to producing maps during a February 13, 2022, planning meeting, indicating alternative locations for trucks to park, but they were not produced at trial. He was asked what happened to the maps, to which he responded that they were included in the thousands of documents provided for the POEC but that he did not know what happened to them. Perkins-McVey asked whether Ayotte took notes during the meeting. Ayotte responded: “No.”
Ayotte denied telling Ottawa Chief of Staff Serge Arpin that the city could accommodate the trucks present during the protest.
Ayotte claimed he was not aware that an application for the injunction he brought on February 14, 2022 (to reinforce bylaws in the city) was ex parte. Ex parte means that only one party is required to be present in court, and the opposing party need not be notified. In this case, the city brought an application for an injunction against the protesters but was not required to provide notice to the protesters. He admitted not mentioning "emergency lanes" in his affidavit he provided to the court in support of this application. Ayotte agreed that the tone of his affidavit suggested non-cooperation from the convoy participants. However, he also outlined their cooperation during the planning meeting on February 13, 2022. Perkins-McVey asked if Ayotte attempted to amend his affidavit, to which he responded, "no." He was asked if he understood that affidavits are intended to be honest and accurate representations, and he answered: “Yes.”
Ayotte appeared to admit that the injunction was brought because it got to the point that his bylaw officers were rendered unable to do their job i.e. issue tickets. But he also says that this was not the purpose of the injunction.— The Democracy Fund (@TDF_Can) September 21, 2023
Ayotte testified that the plan discussed during the February 13, 2022, meeting was to move trucks to Wellington Street and some out of the city. However, the agreement letter provided by Mayor Jim Watson did not explicitly mention moving trucks out of the city. Ayotte admitted that the convoy participants upheld their end of the agreement and that it was the police who put an end to it. He acknowledged that on February 15, 2022, he witnessed truck drivers attempting to comply with the agreement through CCTV cameras. Approximately 102 convoy vehicles, or 25%, moved out of the residential areas as per the agreement with the city.
After Ayotte's testimony concluded, Serge Arpin, the former Chief of Staff for Mayor Watson, took the stand. Arpin testified that he sent an email to Tamara Lich in mid-February 2022, requesting that the convoy leaders remove trucks from the residential districts as a show of goodwill. Arpin recalled walking downtown on several occasions and hearing honking horns from Ottawa City Hall. He also lived near the demonstration and could hear the trucks overnight. When asked to specify when he went for his walks, Arpin said he cannot remember the exact dates.
Arpin described seeing rows of trucks emitting fumes and experiencing strong smells and loud noises. When asked to describe the sound of an idling 18-wheeler, Arpin compared it to a lawnmower.
At this point, the defence objected to the relevance of the crown's evidence. The crown argued that the evidence directly relates to mischief and obstruction charges. Greenspon questioned how this connects to the elements of those offences. Perkins-McVey stated that she would not allow the crown to continue questioning about feelings specifically, but they were free to expand on observations.
The crown then asked Arpin about the reply email he received from Ms. Lich. Arpin stated that he received a response within 5-10 minutes, indicating that members of the convoy would strive to meet the terms of Mayor Watson's letter. However, Arpin admitted that he did not make subsequent observations to confirm whether the convoy members fulfilled their end of the agreement.
Arpin says that he did not make any subsequent observations to confirm whether members of the convoy had fulfilled their end of the agreement.— The Democracy Fund (@TDF_Can) September 21, 2023
During cross-examination, Magas questioned Arpin about whether he made any notes during the convoy, to which he responded that he did not, but he made some notes for the POEC (Public Order Emergency Commission) that he later discarded. There was mention of a meeting with OPS detective Benson, whose duty book notes suggest that Arpin may have added notes to the file he provided to investigators. Arpin claimed he did not know what Benson meant by that and denied saying anything about it.
Arpin additionally stated that Ayotte told him that the city could accommodate the majority of trucks present during the protest (this appears to be at odds with Ayotte's statement about whether he told Arpin that trucks could be accommodated).
Arpin agreed that Mayor Watson believed the protest targeted the government of Canada, not the residents of Ottawa. He stated that he was only interested in engaging with the moderate group of protesters, which appeared to include Lich and Barber. He further acknowledged that 102 vehicles were removed from residential areas as per the agreement letter with Mayor Watson.
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.