Lich Trial Highlights: October 27, 2023

On Day 23 of the trial, Mr. Granger initiated his reply submissions in response to arguments put forth by OPS counsel Stewart.

Granger's main emphasis was that the case did not concern either solicitor-client privilege or a third-party record. Instead, recarding the third-party issue, he stressed that in situations where the existence of specific information is in the crown’s possession, it becomes the crown's responsibility to demonstrate that the information in question is either entirely irrelevant, beyond their control, or protected by privilege. Granger characterized the current scenario as a simple matter of disclosure, placing the onus on the crown to provide a clear justification for the redactions made in the documents.

Regarding solicitor-client privilege, he questioned how communication between two police officers could be regarded as solicitor-client privilege, challenging Stewart's arguments for predominantly focusing on the waiver of privilege rather than addressing the fundamental question of whether solicitor-client privilege applied in this case. Granger argued that Stewart's waiver argument didn't directly pertain to solicitor-client privilege, and a clearer distinction between solicitor and client was necessary.

Following Mr. Granger's submissions, Magas entered the discussion.

She contended that forwarding a record to counsel should not automatically bestow it with solicitor-client privilege, arguing against the broad classification of all discussions involving legal advice as privileged. Magas stressed the need for a clearer distinction, especially when the communications involved two clients rather than a solicitor and a client. She further pointed out the inadequacy in the crown's description of solicitor-client privilege, arguing that it must be sufficiently explained for both counsel and the court to determine if it genuinely qualifies as privileged information. A proper assessment, she argued, could not be made without a clearer understanding of the nature of the privilege.

Perkins-McVey weighed in by emphasizing the importance of a proper description of solicitor-client privilege to enable a meaningful assessment. Wetscher also addressed the court, focusing on the litigation privilege claimed. She mentioned that the redactions pertained to witness planning and a legal application not currently before the court, as well as litigation strategies specific to that application, which was a crown application.

Stewart, representing the OPS counsel, reiterated her position, arguing that the redacted conversations between PLT officers contained advice from the crown and had been disseminated to multiple officers. Therefore, she contended that these conversations should remain redacted, as they did not qualify for unredaction.

The Crown then called PLT officer Blonde to the stand for examination in chief. Perkins-McVey inquired about Blonde's access to his Signal chat logs, to which Blonde responded that he did not have access to it. When asked why, Blonde explained that it doesn't appear on his work phone, and when he attempts to open the Signal app, it remains blank. He further informed the court that he is no longer a member of the PLT.

At this point, Greenspon intervened and questioned Blonde about an 8-page summary he had written regarding his intended evidence. He pointed out that this summary was only provided to defence after 8 p.m. the previous night and is dated September 2023. Greenspon contended that this summary cannot be qualified as evidence. Tim Radcliffe responded by asserting that the Crown had no prior knowledge of this document's existence before the previous evening. He suggested that the witness could use any document or information, even a banana, to refresh his memory.

Greenspon proceeded to question Blonde about the content of this 8-page summary. Blonde acknowledged that he had discussions with the previous Crown and Detective Benson in preparation for the trial, and he was aware that the trial was ongoing when he created this document.

Blonde provided information about his commanding officers, Carvalho and Li. He mentioned that he began assisting with planning for the PLT on January 25, 2022, in anticipation of a protest. Blonde testified that he made observations within the core of the protest. He recalled speaking with individuals in an enclosed trailer that had propane heaters. He noted that during the protest, he was partnered with Officer Nicole Bach.

The Crown proceeded to ask Blonde about his observations on January 30, during which he noticed tents, people serving hot food and drinks, and "cooking implements" that included propane fryers. Blonde also mentioned observing several tractor-trailers parked on Nicholas Street, as well as about 50 tractor-trailers on Metcalfe Street. He notes that Kent Street was "completely blocked" when he observed it on January 31.

Blonde testified that on February 2, he met with Barber, who expressed his desire to relocate trucks away from residential areas to Wellington. He said that Barber also wanted these trucks to be visible on Parliament Hill. He stated that on February 4, discussions took place between the PLT and Barber about the goals of the protest. According to Blonde, Barber sought acknowledgment from the federal government, especially from the Prime Minister.

Blonde noted the presence of multiple vehicles parked on Kent Street. Conversations revolved around opening lanes, including an emergency lane, to provide access to 191 Kent Street, a residential high-rise building. While he couldn't recall the specifics of Barber's involvement or what he said to the protesters, Blonde remembered that their interaction resulted in the opening of an emergency lane.

On February 3, Blonde said he visited Confederation Park, where he observed the construction of a permanent wooden structure. He was given a letter from the National Capital Committee, which he distributed to people. The structure was described as a wooden one measuring 12 feet by 12 feet, larger than an "ice shack."

On February 8, in a parking lot on Metcalfe and Slater, Blonde encountered an open fire, which he likened in size to a campfire. His observations on February 9 included saunas, tents, and propane tanks in a parking lot on Coventry Road. He said there were numerous tractor-trailers and around 60 personal vehicles. People of all age groups were present, and while Blonde saw "nothing unusual," he admitted that he had become accustomed to witnessing things he wasn't used to seeing.

February 10, Blonde testified that he noticed a large water bottle at Wellington and Metcalfe into which people were placing money. He said that the bottle was approximately one-fourth full of money. 

February 14 was referred to as "moving day," symbolizing an agreement to relocate trucks from residential areas to Wellington Street. Blonde discussed this with Barber, who explained that he couldn't move the trucks because a police cruiser was blocking the way. Barber had approximately 10 trucks he wanted to move, and Blonde indicated that he would have relayed this information up the chain of command.

The crown provided Blonde with a document containing text messages, which he confirmed were messages exchanged between him and Barber. Blonde recalled being given a script that outlined the relocation of vehicles, and he was instructed to deliver this script to individuals through text messages and in-person conversations on the street.

The Crown then hands another document to Blonde, which he describes as an "information leaflet." He explained that he was tasked with distributing these leaflets by giving them to protesters and placing them under windshield wipers to ensure a broad dissemination of information. At Rideau and Sussex, Blonde stated that the crowd's mood was angry and quite hostile. He added that people were particularly upset about the notices being distributed. On February 16, he said he witnessed individuals taking these notices and depositing them into a toilet placed in the middle of the road.

Later, Blonde mentioned that when the PLT officers approached protesters to distribute these notices, they would hear honking, and the crowd became "very hostile," leading the PLT officers to leave the area.

Blonde also recalled attending the baseball stadium on February 16 and 17 and noted that he did not encounter any negative response from the protesters.

Blonde said he was in the downtown area on February 19 to request people to leave to prevent them from being arrested. He stated he was positioned behind the front line of public order officers but did not assist them in any way. He claimed that some protester contacts were “determined to get arrested.” Blonde mentioned that he did not recall hearing any police broadcasts during this time.

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