John Carpay: Lich-Barber Criminal Trial Shows Ideological Crown Prosecutors and Misplaced Priorities
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By John Carpay.
December 10 2023
Rape victims in Ontario grieve the evil that was unleashed against them personally and also mourn the failure of the Crown to ensure that serious offences are tried promptly.
In 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in R. v. Jordan that serious crimes must be tried within 18 months if proceeding in provincial court, or 30 months if proceeding with a preliminary inquiry and a trial in superior court. This charter right to be tried within a reasonable time benefits both the accused person and the victim of the alleged crime.
Since 2016, in Ontario alone, hundreds of serious charges have been thrown out due to delays, including 86 sexual assault cases. The Crown has limited resources to prosecute cases and simply cannot bring every matter to trial. Knowing this, the Crown should prioritize the prosecution of murder, rape, violence, and other serious crimes.
While some Ontarians who stand accused of rape, murder, arson, and violent assaults walk away scot-free, the Crown is prosecuting Chris Barber and Tamara Lich over their active participation in the peaceful Freedom Convoy protest in Ottawa.
Without vandalism, violence, murder, arson, looting, theft, or property damage, thousands of Canadians protested peacefully in January and February 2022 against mandatory vaccination policies. As citizens, they legitimately exercised their charter freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly in the nation’s capital.
The trial of Lich and Barber was supposed to take 16 days. By early December 2023, the trial had already taken 32 days. It is far from over.
While Ontario prosecutors seem to lack the resources to bring accused rapists to trial within 30 months, the Crown has chosen to spend taxpayer-funded resources to prosecute Lich and Barber over vehicles that may have been parked illegally during the peaceful Freedom Convoy protest.
In many cases, Ottawa police directed truckers to park their trucks in specific locations, which raises the question as to whether these trucks were parked illegally. While there was certainly some partial obstruction of some Ottawa streets, the protesting truckers took great care to ensure that emergency lanes were left open for police, ambulance, and fire trucks. For the record, Ms. Lich had no truck or car with her in Ottawa in 2022.
The Crown in Manitoba chose not to prosecute the vandals who, in July 2021, expressed their opposition to colonialism by tearing down and damaging a large statue of Queen Victoria on the legislature grounds. As members of a certified victim group protesting for the “right” cause, they were permitted by the Crown and the Winnipeg police to violate the Criminal Code by vandalizing public property in broad daylight.
Likewise, some of the protesters who shut down Canadian railway lines in March 2020, causing millions of dollars in damages, faced no criminal charges. Rather, because they were protesting the building of pipelines, the prime minister said that he wanted to meet with them.
It seems that some Crown prosecutors have abandoned the rule of law, a core Canadian constitutional principle, in favour of neo-Marxist woke ideology that sees society as a permanent battleground between oppressor groups and oppressed groups. Law enforcement, when deciding to prosecute or not, now considers the race, ethnicity, and political opinions of protesters, rather than what ought to be the sole criterion: protester behaviour.
The prevalence of woke authoritarian ideology in Canada today makes it difficult to ignore the possibility that Crown prosecutors are targeting the content of protesters’ expression rather than what ought to be the sole criterion: their behaviour. This was also made abundantly clear in 2020 when anti-lockdown protesters were vehemently denounced as idiots who endangered lives, whereas anti-racism protesters were readily forgiven (and even applauded) for violating COVID restrictions.
Are Lich and Barber being prosecuted because they took part in a protest that was despised and detested by the prime minister, by most politicians of most parties, by the medical establishment, by government-funded media, by taxpayer-funded universities, and by the legal establishment?
As those who dare to remember will know, anyone questioning the government’s lockdown policies or vaccine mandates in 2020–22 was denounced as “anti-science” and as against “saving lives.” There was no room for debate. Those who opposed government policies were thought to deserve unemployment, suspension from university, and other forms of second-class citizenship.
In Ottawa in 2022, governments had many law enforcement tools to end the peaceful protest without laying criminal charges and without invoking the Emergencies Act. They chose not to use these tools.
For example, the City of Ottawa could have issued tickets to truckers for failing to have a permit for their demonstration, as required by By-law No. 2001-260. Police could have issued tickets under Traffic and Parking By-law No. 2017-301 and enforced Ottawa Noise By-law No. 2017-255, which prohibits (among other things) the “sounding of any horn.” Police did not use their powers under Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act to remove and store vehicles that impeded the normal and reasonable movement of traffic on roads, nor did they enforce Ontario’s Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (RSO 1990, c. E.9).
Instead of using these non-criminal law enforcement tools to deal with parked trucks that partially obstructed some streets, the federal government invoked the draconian powers of the Emergencies Act. Police then charged peaceful protesters like Lich and Barber with criminal conduct, and the Crown chose to prosecute these charges, even if doing so means denying justice to victims of rape and other serious crimes.
Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
Lawyer John Carpay is president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (jccf.ca).