Lawrence Greenspon says it is unusual to stay 50 days in jail with no criminal history
Freedom Convoy organizer Tamara Lich was again released on bail after she was detained earlier in July for allegedly violating her previous bail conditions. Her lawyer Lawrence Greenspon says it is unusual that Lich has spent 50 days in jail for nonviolent offences and has no criminal record.
“It’s extremely disappointing that she spent this amount of time before she could be released on what the judge described as a tenuous breach of condition and what I would say is a very defensible minor and technical alleged breach,” Greenspon says.
Lich was re-arrested after having contact with fellow protest leader Tom Marazzo at an awards gala in Toronto in June. The Crown argued that the contact violated Lich’s bail conditions, as she had been ordered not to communicate with key convoy organizers except through counsel or in the presence of counsel.
Lich was the honouree at the awards gala for her role during the convoy that occupied downtown Ottawa for weeks in February, protesting COVID-19 restrictions, including vaccine mandates at workplaces and for truckers.
Lich was placed at the awards gala head table, which Marazzo happened to be at, Greenspon says.
“When she came off the stage after she gave her acceptance speech, she went around the table, and everybody congratulated her. So, there are little less than three seconds where Tom Marazzo congratulates her for the Freedom Award, and at some point later, she’s in a picture standing next to him.”
He says that at the dinner, several lawyers from the Justice Centre assisting Lich were also present, so she was not in breach of her conditions.
“It became clear that the detectives who testified against her did not know who those counsels were and could not say if they were at the same table as her or even in the same picture.”
According to Greenspon, the Supreme Court has said that people should be released on bail if they have spent more time in prison than if they were convicted.
“Any time somebody spends a significant time in jail pretrial before they’ve even been judged, there’s a concern about the administration of justice and how the people in public will see this,” he says.
“Somebody who was arrested, particularly on a breach and is in custody, still has the presumption of innocence, and they have a right to reasonable bail under the Charter.”
Ontario Superior Court Justice Andrew Goodman granted Lich another bail hearing after he ruled that the earlier order on July 8 for Lich’s detainment was “clearly inappropriate.”
Justice Goodman said Justice of the Peace Paul Harris had made “erroneous” conclusions and “misapprehended” the evidence against Lich when deciding she broke her bail conditions.
Justice Goodman released Lich on $37,000 in bond without deposit. “Ms. Lich is not charged with sedition or inciting a riot,” wrote Justice Goodman.
“While the protests were of national import… the charges here relate to minor offences in the criminal code. I find it highly unlikely this 49-year-old woman with no criminal record… would spend any more time in jail.”
Justice Goodman noted that there was no case in Canada in the last 25 years where anybody had gotten a significant penitentiary sentence for a mischief charge and said that the likelihood of Lich to re-offend and the risk to the community remains low.
“While on release, there has been strict compliance with the conditions save for the picture with Mr. Marazzo, and there is a very live question about whether there was a breach at all.”
Greenspon says Justice Goodman is the third superior court judge informing the Crown that Lich has nonviolent offences and is not facing a significant penitentiary term, but the Crown keeps arguing otherwise.
“She’s already spent 50 days in custody, and it would disrepute the administration of justice if she had been held in custody any further.”
Greenspon says it was unprecedented that the Crown got permission to expand the breach warrant to Alberta, where Lich was arrested and jailed for six days before being flown back to Ottawa.