Tamara Lich Is Canada’s Prisoner of Conscience

July 12, 2022 Updated: July 13, 2022


According to Amnesty International, a prisoner of conscience is “someone who has not used or advocated violence or hatred in the circumstances leading to their imprisonment but is imprisoned solely because of who they are (sexual orientation, ethnic, national or social origin, language, birth, colour, sex or economic status) or what they believe (religious, political or other conscientiously held beliefs).”

Does Tamara Lich fit that description?

Tamara Lich has not used violence or advocated hatred. Was she arrested and jailed because of her conscientiously held belief that the government’s mandatory vaccination and lockdown policies are unjustified violations of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and for acting on this belief through involvement in the peaceful Freedom Convoy protest in Ottawa this winter?

On Feb. 17, Ms. Lich was arrested after the Trudeau government declared the peaceful truckers’ protest to be a national emergency. She was charged with interfering with the lawful use and enjoyment of property (“mischief”), counselling to commit mischief, and obstructing police. Just 10 days prior to that, however, Ontario Superior Court Justice Hugh McLean had ruled, in a civil court action brought by Ottawa residents to stop honking horns in the downtown area, that Ms. Lich and other defendants were “at liberty to engage in a peaceful, lawful and safe protest.”

Parking a vehicle in the wrong place at the wrong time might earn you a parking ticket, but it’s not a crime. Significantly, Ms. Lich had no truck with her in Ottawa when peacefully protesting with other Canadians against charter violations by the federal and provincial governments. In a country that supposedly honours the rule of law as a constitutional principle, Ms. Lich was charged criminally  while peacefully exercising her charter freedoms of expression, association, and assembly.

Violent offenders with long criminal records are routinely granted bail while awaiting trial. Ms. Lich was denied bail and spent 19 days in jail. In light of the fact that this mother and grandmother had no criminal record and was not charged with a violent crime, this denial of bail reeked of raw politics. In March, Ms. Lich was released on harsh and repressive terms that limited her charter freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly. One of her bail conditions states that she cannot communicate with convoy spokesman Tom Marazzo (and certain other individuals), except in the presence of legal counsel.

But on June 27, Ms. Lich was arrested again for allegedly breaching her bail conditions by allegedly communicating with Marazzo at a dinner in Toronto on June 16.

Hosted by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, a legal charity, the dinner was held to honour Ms. Lich with the 2022 George Jonas Freedom Award in recognition of her significant contribution to defending Canada as a free society. Importantly, a judge had already decided that accepting this award was not a violation of her bail conditions.

Yet on July 5, Crown prosecutor Moiz Karimjee presented the court with a video clip from the dinner, showing Lich in what was described as a three-second congratulatory interaction with Marazzo.

Is this worthy of a Canada-wide warrant for arrest?

At the bail hearing, Ms. Lich’s defence counsel Lawrence Greenspon asked the Crown’s only witness, Ottawa homicide detective Chris Benson, if he was aware that some lawyers from the Justice Centre were present at the June 16 dinner, and that Lich may have had criminal defence lawyers present at the dinner. The detective replied he did not know who Ms. Lich’s lawyers were and stated he could not identify them. When questioned, Benson was also unable to identify Justice Centre president and lawyer John Carpay, who was seated at the table with Ms. Lich.

The detective also stated that this was the first time in his experience that a country-wide warrant had been issued for someone who had been accused of breaching their bail.

As of July 12, Ms. Lich has spent a total of 35 days in jail, despite having no criminal history or record, on charges that do not involve violence. After Ms. Lich was arrested in Medicine Hat on June 27, two homicide detectives from Ottawa were sent to Alberta to retrieve her, and she was flown to Ontario for a second bail hearing.

When criminally accused persons out on bail (not jailed while awaiting trial) are charged with breaching their bail conditions, they are often released immediately after their arrest, unless they committed a violent act. Keeping Ms. Lich in jail appears to be a political move of the kind one expects in corrupt dictatorships that do not respect the rule of law.

Indeed, anyone who thinks that Lich’s treatment is “normal” does not understand how the system really works. For example, as Cory Morgan pointed out recently in these pages, Christopher Watts in Kingston, Ontario, was released from jail in June. He was convicted of raping and killing a 13-year-old girl along with repeatedly violating past release conditions. Police feel he is at a high risk to re-offend, but apparently it is impossible to keep him behind bars. In similar fashion, Winston George Thomas, a violent sex offender, was released into the population in Winnipeg on June 18. The Winnipeg Police Service says he is at high risk to re-offend “in a sexual and/or sexually violent manner against all females, both adults, and children.”

By comparison, the extent to which the Crown is obsessively and relentlessly persecuting Ms. Lich is outrageous. The fact that the homicide detective who forcibly brought Lich back to Ottawa knew nothing about the event where the alleged breach occurred, or that her lawyers were present at the dinner, is incredibly troubling.

Politicizing prosecutions to punish opponents of the regime repudiates the rule of law. We must ask ourselves, “Is this the kind of Canada we want to live in?”

Ms. Lich’s next court appearance is on July 14.

I just came back from Romania, my first time leaving the country since the COVID-19 pandemic began. I never thought I would feel so claustrophobic living in Canada. I also never thought I would feel freer in Romania than in Canada. Think about that for a minute: Romania was long known as the place where the secret police grabbed citizens from the street for offending communist dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu.

Do we really want to follow that example?

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Barry W. Bussey, Ph.D., is president and CEO of First Freedoms Foundation.