Accused “Freedom Convoy” organizer Tamara Lich has retained the services of Lawrence Greenspon, the high-powered — and high-priced — Ottawa criminal defence lawyer known for taking on some of the city’s highest-profile cases.
Lich was set to appear Monday morning before Superior Court Justice Robert Pelletier to ask the judge to relax some of the bail conditions that currently limit her access to social media.
Instead, her lawyer, Diane Magas, formally requested the change of counsel as Greenspon joined the virtual hearing.
The mischief, counselling and other related charges against Lich were recently updated to include Chris Barber as her co-accused. The two accused convoy leaders are being charged jointly and would therefore appear together in a trial.
Both were arrested on Feb. 17, the day before police made the massive arrests that brought an end to the three-week “occupation” of downtown streets.
Magas told court Monday she will remain counsel for Barber, while Greenspon will take over Lich’s defence.
“I look forward to defending Ms. Lich,” Greenspon said in a phone interview following the hearing.
“It will be a pleasant change to represent somebody who has no criminal record and there’s no weapons or violence, or anything of that nature involved in this case, so I look forward to defending Ms. Lich on these charges.“
Pelletier said Monday he had reviewed the bail application, filed in writing by Magas on March 24, but the judge said he would not be presiding over the actual bail review hearing, as he is currently the lone Superior Court judge at the L’Orignal courthouse presiding over the Prescott-Russell jurisdiction.
In a virtual hearing beset by technical difficulties — comically described by the judge as “something of an Italian opera that ended tragically” — the parties agreed to set a new date for a new Superior Court justice to hear the bail review.
That hearing is expected to last a full day and will be scheduled “in the weeks to follow,” Pelletier said.
Greenspon said in an interview he intends to pursue Lich’s bail review application on similar grounds that were outlined by Magas in the application filed last month.
Lich, according to that application, is seeking to remove the bail condition barring her from accessing her social media accounts, arguing the condition “does not have a rational connection to the risk to public safety or the commission of further offences.”
Greenspon echoed that position Monday.
“The condition that she have no involvement in social media whatsoever is, in my view, unnecessarily broad and we intend to have that condition reviewed,” he said.
In his March 7 decision to overturn the lower court ruling that had denied Lich bail, Superior Court Justice John Johnston — also presiding as an out-of town judge — released Lich on conditions that banned her from logging on or posting any messages on social media.
She is not to allow anyone else to post messages to social media on her behalf, according to the judicial order, or “indicate approval for any future protests … .”
She is also prohibited from engaging in “the organization or promotion of anti-COVID-19 mandate activities and Freedom Convoy activities,” Johnston ruled, and is “not to verbally, in writing, financially or by any other means support anything related to the Freedom Convoy.”
Lich is seeking to relax those bail conditions as well, according to the application filed by Magas, who argued the restrictions violate several of Lich’s charter rights, including the right to freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of association and the right to reasonable bail.
“As the ‘Freedom Convoy’ is no longer in Ottawa, there is no longer any need for a condition banning any support of the ‘Freedom Convoy,’ ” the application states.
“That’s pretty clear,” Greenspon agreed on Monday. “There’s no longer any risk.”
Barber and Lich remain out on bail conditions that include the strict supervision of a court-approved surety, and both are restricted from communicating with a growing list of co-accused convoy leaders and participants.
Magas represented both Barber and Lich through their first court appearances and the bail phase.
She secured Barber’s release the day after his arrest, and while Lich was initially denied bail, she won her release in a bail review hearing on March 7.
The change of counsel to Greenspon is notable. One of the city’s most prominent defence lawyers in both civil and criminal courtrooms, Greenspon represented Mohammad Momin Khawaja in Canada’s first terror trial and has defended clients ranging from former Taliban captive Joshua Boyle to former senator Mike Duffy.
Pat King, another convoy organizer, who was charged separately with similar offences, is also expected to name a new lawyer for his upcoming bail review hearing.
King had been represented by Toronto-based lawyer Cal Rosemond, though King has recently expressed his frustration with the barriers he’s facing in contacting his prospective legal team while he remains incarcerated at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre.
King’s bail review is scheduled to proceed Wednesday.