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Key organizer of Ottawa COVID protests denied bail

  • THE CANADIAN PRESS / AP
                                Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walks across an empty Wellington St. to a news conference, Monday, in Ottawa.

    THE CANADIAN PRESS / AP

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walks across an empty Wellington St. to a news conference, Monday, in Ottawa.

OTTAWA, Ontario >> A judge on Tuesday denied bail to one of the leading organizers behind protests against COVID-19 restrictions and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Ontario Court Justice Julie Bourgeois said she believed there was a substantial likelihood that Tamara Lich would reoffend if released.

Another key leader, Patrick King, also was in court for a bail hearing, where a woman who acknowledged she only met him four weeks ago was offering half the value of her Alberta home to guarantee his bail.

Lich was a key organizer of the protest that paralyzed the streets around Parliament Hill for more than three weeks. The trucker protest also grew until it closed a handful of Canada-U.S. border posts. They have since ended.

Lich was arrested Thursday and charged with counselling to commit mischief and promised during a bail hearing on Saturday to give up her advocacy of the protest and return to Alberta.

Ottawa protesters who vowed never to give up are largely gone, chased away by police in riot gear in what was the biggest police operation in the nation’s history.

The self-styled Freedom Convoy shook Canada’s reputation for civility, inspired convoys in France, New Zealand and the Netherlands and interrupted trade, causing economic damage on both sides of the border. Hundreds of trucks eventually occupied the streets around Parliament, a display that was part protest and part carnival.

For almost a week the busiest U.S.-Canada border crossing, the Ambassador Bridge between Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, was blocked. The crossing sees more than 25% of the trade between the two countries.

Trudeau said people in Ottawa were harassed for weeks and said billions of dollars in trade were stalled by the border blockades, putting people’s jobs at risk.

Lich previously belonged to the far-right Maverick Party, which calls for western Canada to become independent.

A separate hearing was held for King, who was arrested Friday on charges of mischief, counselling to commit mischief, counselling to commit the offence of disobeying a court order and counselling to obstruct police. King has been known to promote racist conspiracy theories online.

Alberta resident Kerry Komix was proposing to be a surety for King should he be granted bail. Under the plan, King would live at her home in a spare room.

Under cross-examination by the prosecution, Komix said she had known King for four weeks, having travelled to Ottawa herself as part of the trucker convoy.

Komix said she would ensure King followed any bail conditions and attended future court dates, or she would risk forfeiting a $50,000 bond.

“As soon as he’s released he will be in my 24-hour care,” she said.

Komix said she was a light sleeper and had an attentive dog.

I don’t see any way he can breach it without my knowledge,” she said.

“I will be able to hear every move that he makes.”

Just before a break in the proceedings, King was served with papers from the law firm of Paul Champ, which is spearheading a civil action against protest organizers on behalf of downtown Ottawa residents.

Lich’s bail decision came the day after Canadian lawmakers voted to support the government’s use of measures under the Emergencies Act.

Ottawa police have made 196 arrests, with 110 facing a variety of charges. Police also said 115 vehicles connected to the protest have been towed.

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