On Day 17, Zexi Li, a salaried employee who works full-time for the government, testified in the Lich & Barber trial.
Li testified that she had been working from home since March 2020 and that the noise from the protest made it difficult to work and “live as a human being”. She claimed she heard after-market horns on trucks and other sounds, including what she thought was an air raid siren - which she admitted she never saw. Li described hearing “directed honking”, which increased in frequency until the injunction order was made.
Following the injunction order, she testified to hearing only one or two occasional honks, but said “organized honking” continued later on in the protest. Li also said she heard multiple instances of fireworks. She testified that she went for walks or ran errands once or twice a day on average during the protest and that she would typically walk between her home and the parliamentary area where the demonstration was taking place. Li described exploring the area of the demonstration and observing urine, feces, bonfires, garbage, and transport trucks parked in the middle of the street. She said that the biggest thing she observed was people trying to get her attention and find out whether she supported their cause.
She said when she told them that she did not support their case, they would laugh at her and honk, which she found intimidating. During the third week of the demonstration, she said there was a smaller presence on weekdays, and the fireworks most commonly occurred on the weekends.
During the cross-examination, Greenspon asked Zexi Li if she kept notes or a journal of any of the events she described, to which she answered “no”. Greenspon also asked about the "collective honking" and whether she recalls specific dates, but she stated that she did not recall, aside from some honking on Feb 7, 2022. Greenspon asked Li to provide specific dates of fireworks, megaphones, and other noises she observed, but she admitted that she did not remember any specific dates that she heard these sounds. Li was asked about her earlier testimony where she claimed a truck "backed into her," and she admitted that the truck did not actually make contact with her. She also admitted that she did not recall the date she observed the ambulance that she testified was unable to proceed through an intersection.
Greenspon asked her if she was aware of the study conducted on ambulance response times during the protest that concluded that ambulances arrived on time, Li stated that she was not familiar with the study.
Li admitted that she cannot say specifically which roads were blocked on specific dates. Li further admitted that she is a named plaintiff in the class action lawsuit against the convoy and that she actively participated in the honking injunction motion. In addition, she admitted that only horns and honking were captured by the injunction and that the injunction did not capture fireworks, blocked streets, or other noises.
Li admitted that she understood that, provided the terms of the injunction were complied with, protesters were at liberty to continue to engage in peaceful, lawful, and safe protests. She admitted that her lawyers consented to this term as well. Li agreed that she was also present when the continuation of the injunction order was granted. She again admitted that she was aware that peaceful, lawful, and safe protests would be permitted per the continuation as well. Greenspon put to Li again, that the only action that the injunction continuation stopped was honking horns, essentially, to which she agreed.
Greenspon asked if Li's testimony was that the honking was "constant" and that it continued at least "every other minute," to which Li answered "Yes." Greenspon then asked her if she remembered stating previously that the honking had "stopped entirely," to which she answered, "yes." He asked Li if she saw this as contradictory to the statement that the honking was "constant," to which she responded: "I do not see that as contradictory."
Greenspon suggested to Li that the honking generally stopped after the injunction, save some intermittent honking for short periods of time, but Li disagreed. In response, Greenspon provided Li with a copy of the statement she made at POEC (Public Order Emergency Commission), where she stated that there was 'some intermittent honking for short periods of time.' Li then agreed with this statement and admitted that her memory was likely better when she testified at POEC.
The crown called its next witness, Paul Jorgenson, who testified that he lived in a high rise at Kent and Laurier and worked full-time from home during the protests. Jorgenson stated that a number of trucks were "rolling coal" in his opinion, which he explained is when coal is added to truck engines in order to generate plumes of smoke. He admitted that he is not an expert in this area, however. He said that he needed to flee Ottawa for the sake of his mental health and had to do so on foot.
He described being surrounded on “two or three sides” and threatened by protesters. He said that he had to flee this encounter. Jorgenson described these protesters as a large group of "bullies" who threatened him and his partner with their "body language and posture." He said he heard one of the protesters state: "Oh, you're wearing masks?" which he perceived as threatening. He said that he fled upon hearing this.
Jorgenson testified that once he left "centretown" he travelled to "the Glebe" which was the "respite" he was looking for. He said that he and his partner had to "flee" Ottawa on January 31, 2022 and returned February 9, 2022.
When he returned, he described the honking as "intermittent" and "liveable". Jorgenson recalled the fireworks stopping by the time he returned and that he did not experience any "harassing behaviour." He described his life as being "deeply impacted every minute of every day." He said he was unable to travel in his vehicle and became "food insecure" due to the closure of a grocery store he frequented. Jorgenson said that "Hartmans" and "Farm Boy" in centretown were closed and he "couldn't get Uber Eats." He added that the food was "running out in his pantry."
He described the vehicles he observed during the protest as running "the whole time". Especially between January 28, 2022 and January 31, 2022. Jorgenson stated that he witnessed numerous vehicles driving around without license plates. He said his social engagements stopped, except for friends who hosted him for dinner 2 or 3 times. He testified that he had to go for walks in other neighbourhoods.
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.