Federal prosecutors have dropped all charges against a Freedom Convoy protester accused of interfering with the property of downtown Ottawa residents, among other violations.
A press release by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) explains that the charges were dropped against the individual, known in court-documents only as J.W., after the Crown agreed a provincial declaration of emergency to deal with the Windsor blockades did not apply to this matter.
“On February 19, 2022, J.W. was charged with interfering with the lawful use and enjoyment of property of downtown Ottawa residents, failure to obey a court order, and obstruction of justice for failing to identify himself to police,” the JCCF wrote.
“The court order J.W. allegedly disobeyed was made under the provincial declaration of emergency, to deal with the Windsor bridge blockades. The order was created specifically to clear the Windsor blockades and counsel argued that it was an abuse to use the order for any other purpose. The Crown agreed and withdrew all charges.”
Additionally, the JCCF cited a “lack of evidence” to show that the Freedom Convoy supporter actually violated the rights of Ottawa residents or that he failed to identify himself to law enforcement.
“The Freedom Convoy was a peaceful demonstration that protested the trucker vaccine mandates the Trudeau government imposed in January 2022,” said the JCCF.
“In response to the peaceful demonstrations, the Prime Minister took the unprecedented step to invoke the Emergencies Act on February 14, 2022, to suppress the peaceful protests, and freeze bank accounts of protestors without a court order.”
Lawyer Sam Goldstein represented J.W. in the case.
“The right to peaceful protest is an integral part of democracy which is why the right to peaceful assembly is guaranteed by the Charter,” said JCCF lawyer Henna Parmar.
“We look forward to the Canadian Courts upholding the fundamental right of Canadians to peacefully assemble.”
This development comes as the Public Order Emergency Commission deliberates on whether Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s invocation of the Emergencies Act was justified under the provisions defined by the law.
A report with the Commission’s findings is expected to be released in February 2023.