Freedom Convoy organizer Chris Barber stated Tuesday the anti-vaccine mandate protest that gripped Ottawa for weeks final winter was beset by “battle” amongst totally different factions pushing their very own agendas.
Barber, a Saskatchewan trucker and small enterprise proprietor, testified at the Public Order Emergency Commission (POEC) investigating the convoy that he and Brigitte Belton, an unvaccinated Alberta trucker, have been the first to pitch a cross-country drive to protest a vaccine mandate for cross-border employees.
Tamara Lich, a former Western Canadian separatist, then joined the staff to assist set up the cross-country trek.
This trio then “organically” aligned with different teams additionally eager to tackle the Liberal authorities and its COVID-19 insurance policies, Barber stated.
A self-described “web troll,” Barber stated he related with these disparate teams by way of social media platforms resembling TikTok — the place he has tens of 1000’s of followers who flocked to his account throughout the worst of the pandemic as he attacked COVID-related insurance policies.
“The phrase began to unfold. It was fully natural — every little thing simply fell proper into place,” Barber stated. “A bunch of various teams got here collectively and had enter in the planning.”
The end result was a “energy wrestle” between his group of largely Western Canadian truckers and different components like Canada Unity, an outfit against masks mandates and vaccine passports. Canada Unity produced a memorandum of understanding (MOU) calling for the overthrow of the Liberal authorities.
The group’s founder, James Bauder, known as for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to be arrested and “charged with treason.”
Barber stated he by no means really learn the MOU and did not assist a movement to grab energy in Ottawa.
“I consider I simply ignored it. I’ve no clue what’s in the doc. I wasn’t into that type of factor,” Barber stated.
Barber stated that had he recognized at the outset that Bauder and his group would be a part of the convoy whereas calling for the authorities’s overthrow, he would have “promptly informed them to go residence.”
Barber, who testified that he’s vaccinated, stated he solely got here to Ottawa to protest border restrictions — insurance policies he stated harm his enterprise as a result of he employed unvaccinated drivers who could not journey to the U.S.
“I keep in mind calling on Mr. Bauder and having him resign the MOU a part of the means by way of the convoy,” Barber testified.
“There was an excessive amount of spotlight, an excessive amount of highlight on this doc that we did not have something to do with.”
“We had just a little little bit of battle between Canada Unity and Taking Back Our Freedoms,” he stated, referring to a bunch led by former Newfoundland and Labrador premier Brian Peckford.
Barber stated he additionally often clashed with Pat King, a far-right organizer with a historical past of incendiary social media posts.
King, who amassed a big following on Facebook, inspired individuals to flock to Ottawa to hitch the movement.
“Pat and I had an influence wrestle between one another — that was evident. It was an influence wrestle backwards and forwards over management,” Barber stated.
Barber stated the authentic convoy organizers felt “some concern” when the media reported on King’s earlier violent and racist feedback. While he stated he was bothered by a few of the unhealthy headlines King’s feedback had generated, Barber added he by no means really requested King to depart the convoy.
Text messages tabled at the fee Tuesday present the convoy organizers have been nervous about shedding King-aligned supporters if he was eliminated.