Emergencies Act inquiry: Highlights from initial organizer testimony


A brand new chapter of the Public Order Emergency Commission’s public hearings started on Tuesday, because the nationwide inquiry into the federal authorities’s use of the Emergencies Act started listening to instantly from “Freedom Convoy” protest organizers.

The first organizer to take the stand was Saskatchewan-based trucker Chris Barber, who bought vaccinated because of the federal COVID-19 cross-border vaccine mandate, and shortly after grew to become one of many authentic convoy organizers.

After spending weeks protesting within the nation’s capital, on Feb. 17 Barber had his financial institution accounts frozen and was arrested on a number of expenses. He is predicted to go to trial in Sept. 2023, although as he stated on Tuesday: “As far as I do know we had been doing the whole lot throughout the regulation.”

Then, the fee heard testimony from Steeve Charland, who represents a Quebec-based anti-COVID-19 mandate group known as Les Farfadaas, which proof has indicated was current within the Rideau Street and Sussex Drive intersection blockade. Charland was arrested on Feb. 26 and was charged with mischief and counselling to commit mischief for his function within the protests.

Rounding out the day was Brigitte Belton, an Ontario-based trucker who made a much-circulated TikTok video about her expertise on the border and as a trucker going through restrictions, pre-protests. She was one of many initial truckers to counsel embarking on a cross-country convoy to Ottawa to protest the cross-border trucker vaccine mandate, which inside weeks spiralled right into a nationwide emergency.

From descriptions of a “energy wrestle” between varied factions of protesters, prodding the motivations of the organizers and efforts made by some to maintain the protests harmonious, to the function TikTok performed in sparking the cross-Canada convoys, this is some key moments from Tuesday’s testimony. 


Asked to stroll the fee by means of how precisely the “Freedom Convoy” got here collectively in a “gradual roll” or convoy of transport vans to journey throughout Canada to Ottawa, Chris Barber stated it was “fully natural.”

“Everything simply actually fell proper into place… I imagine it was about two weeks from the time we began speaking about it, to the time we really left. It was extraordinarily quick,” he stated.

Asked who was main the organizing, Barber stated there wasn’t one chief, although he named Brigitte Belton, Tamara Lich, Pat King, and Canada Unity’s James Bauder as being concerned from the outset.

“It was a gaggle of organizers… We had folks in each province step up, we had helpers in each province. It was all, everybody simply got here collectively.”

Belton stated her motivations on the outset had been to gradual roll in protest, to be a “nuisance” in visitors, to not block borders, with the expectation that when the truckers arrived in Ottawa, the prime minister would meet with them.

Barber, who was a part of the Western convoy, later testified how the truckers, coming from completely different instructions, used radios to co-ordinate as they converged on the capital. “Everything was properly orchestrated.”

For his half, Charland was requested why he bought concerned with the protests. He stated it was about “lastly be heard as a folks, and to inform our elected officers that ‘that is it,'” occurring to state that in his view, the whole lot coated by the media was “sh*t,” which acquired applause by the convoy supporters who confirmed as much as watch Tuesday’s proceedings in particular person.

Barber was additionally requested whether or not there was co-ordination between the Ottawa protests and the border blockades that popped up, to which Barber stated: “Honestly, I’d say we weren’t good sufficient to provide you with that concept.” 


However, this “natural” coming collectively appeared to expertise some pressure because the protests grew, Barber testified.

Barber instructed the fee that he knew that some contributors had come to Ottawa in search of greater than the top of COVID-19 mandates, and these competing agendas appeared to trigger some friction.

Barber testified that, whereas the “core group of precise truckers” stayed collectively, different organizations arrange camp and it grew to become a wrestle for management.

“It was an influence wrestle loads of the time,” Barber stated. He cited the “Taking Back our Freedoms” and “Canada Unity” factions as examples.

Canada Unity was a gaggle led by Bauder, who Barber stated was concerned from the outset, and tried to advance a “memorandum of understanding” (MOU) to have the Senate and Gov. Gen. Mary Simon be a part of them in forming a committee to order the revocation of COVID-19 restrictions and vaccine mandates. Such a suggestion just isn’t possible below present democratic processes.

As the protests waged on and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau refused to fulfill with demonstrators, the MOU developed, seeing some counsel they attempt to type a coalition with opposition events and the involvement of Simon, to unseat the federal government. 

Asked what his concern with Canada Unity was, Barber stated he did not like their MOU, though he additionally testified he is by no means learn it and has no plans to. Asked whether or not he had considerations that it advocated for an undemocratic change of energy in Canada, Barber stated he “heard rumours on each side.”

During the protests, Barber and different protesters made efforts to distance themselves from Canada Unity because of the eye it was getting. After accumulating 320,000 signatures, Canada Unity withdrew the MOU, saying it “does not reflect the spirit and intent of the Freedom Convoy.”

And, after consideration was placed on King’s suggestion that the protests would finish “with bullets,” the fee heard that Barber was concerned in discussions about whether or not King needs to be despatched residence.

However, testimony indicated that Barber had considerations concerning the vans King introduced with him if he was to be requested to go away.

“Was the priority that if Mr. King was despatched residence or requested to not take part, that his supporters would additionally cease collaborating?” a fee laywer requested.

“It would have been an excellent guess, sure,” Barber responded.

Ultimately, Barber stated that he gave King the advantage of the doubt when it got here to the media consideration he was getting, acknowledging that at one level he texted Lich that Barber had “skeletons within the closet, too.” This he stated, was in reference to his on-line behaviour.


Barber instructed the fee that he has “been an web troll for a few years,” and that it was widespread for him to be juggling a number of accounts as a result of he would “continuously turn out to be banned for posting inappropriate issues or issues that went towards group requirements.”

However, Barber testified that he appeared to make use of the convoy to “develop,” and that coming to Ottawa modified his perspective. “It was such a various crowd of individuals… It modified me.”

During his testimony, Barber was requested concerning the function that social media performed in how he bought concerned within the protests and later used his platform to market it.

He testified that he first bought concerned after being approached by Belton, over TikTok, in early January.

“Communication began from there,” he stated.

During her testimony, Belton instructed the fee that her now widely-circulated video about “being harassed” by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) over refusing to put on a masks, was solely her fourth put up on the platform.

She stated she used TikTok to seek for different truckers, and that is how she discovered Chris Barber. “Thank God,” she testified. Belton stated they began talking in early January, she made a flyer which she posted on-line, and after it caught they eye of accounts with bigger followings, “it actually exploded in a single day.” 

Barber additionally testified that, as he continued to make use of his TikTok account by means of the protests to speak each with fellow protesters and to broadcast extra extensively the scene in Ottawa, his following grew from an estimated 30,000 to 170,000.

Describing the scene as “chaos,” Barber stated “the one factor” he might do was put movies out asking for order as a result of they didn’t come to disrupt the town.

However, Barber’s self-described efforts to corral the protesters was contradicted when it got here to speaking concerning the horn honking.


Barber was additionally requested Tuesday, whether or not he felt the incessant horn honking was a type of harmonious protest.

Here’s what he stated:

“I thought-about the horn honking to be a type of pleasure, greater than harmonious protest. I’ll be the primary to confess the horns irritated me. I did the whole lot in my energy to attempt to get the horns to cease. I’ve put out a number of movies frequently saying ‘cease,’ particularly after the courtroom order got here in,” he stated.

A convoy lawyer then performed one in all Barber’s TikTok movies that reveals him laughing as truck horns are blaring within the background.


Under cross-examination by a federal authorities lawyer, Barber was requested about casual briefing paperwork created by the core group of convoy protesters that included varied mentions of conspiracy theories associated to the World Economic Forum and “the nice reset,” and relatedly, made point out of Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland.

Then, the lawyer offered an electronic mail, titled “PREPARE FOR BLOOD AND WAR!!!” addressed to Freeland’s basic electronic mail account, despatched on Feb. 16—two days after the Emergencies Act was invoked and simply previous to police shifting in—making clear threats.

“I declare warfare on all of the CANADIAN authorities for misleading about covid-19. Chrystia Freeland will get a bullet to the pinnacle,” wrote the sender, recognized as Larry Jensen. He then advised Freeland “higher be hidden and be positioned into safety as a result of we all know the place you reside.”

“Prepare to really feel (our) WRATH! You’res [sic] really, the Canadian covid authorities resistance.”

There was some objection to the relevance of this line of questioning, however Barber stated whereas he had not seen this electronic mail earlier than, he’d reject unequivocally what the sender wrote.

The federal authorities’s lawyer then put to him whether or not he’d agree that “once you begin a fireplace and fan the flames, it might get uncontrolled.”

Barber did not instantly reply, saying that whereas he tried to quell protesters’ anger, a letter like that was “the very last thing” he needed to occur, he was not at all times profitable. 


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