Freedom Convoy Leader Tamara Lich Denied Bail After Arrest in Ottawa

Tamara Lich, one of the leaders of Canada's Freedom Convoy protests, was denied bail on Tuesday.

The 49-year-old was charged with counseling to commit mischief by allegedly helping to organize the trucker protests against COVID-19 restrictions and vaccine mandates, CityNews Toronto reported.

Lich, who was arrested last Thursday, is one of almost 200 people arrested in protests by truckers and supporters that blocked the streets of Canada's capital for nearly a month. In response, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergency Act for the first time in 50 years, which gave the government greatly expanded powers to restore order.

Although Lich told the court at a Saturday bail hearing she would leave Ottawa and return to her family in Alberta, Ontario Court Justice Julie Bourgeois said in her decision she felt Lich's statements and responses during the hearing were disingenuous, according to The Canadian Press.

"I cannot be reassured that if I release you into the community that you will not reoffend," Bourgeois said. "Your detention is necessary for the protection and safety of the public."

Lich was the one who established the protest's GoFundMe page, which amassed more than $10 million before the site started to issue refunds to the donors, CityNews reported. Though Lich said the money was going to food, fuel and lodging for the protesters, GoFundMe said it was returning the money because it supported "violence and other unlawful activity," CityNews added.

In addition to Lich's arrest, Patrick King, a 44-year-old protest leader also from Alberta, was arrested last Friday and is facing charges of mischief, counseling to commit mischief, counseling to commit the offense of disobeying a court order and counseling to obstruct police, The Canadian Press reported. King's bail hearing is scheduled for later Tuesday.

Bourgeois also ordered that Lich have no contact with King or other protest organizers such as Christopher Barber, Daniel Bulford and Benjamin Dichter.

In a statement Monday, Ottawa police said they had arrested 196 people in connection with the protests, with 110 facing charges. Officers towed another 115 vehicles believed to be involved in the protests.

Mischief charges are "extremely flexible," covering anything from "interfering with computer data" to causing death, according to The Canadian Press. A counseling to commit mischief charge means telling someone to commit a crime that falls under the "mischief" umbrella.

Mischief charges can bring a range of penalties, from a fine for mild cases to life in prison for the most extreme cases. The counseling charge could warrant even harsher penalties than regular mischief. Toronto criminal lawyer Karen McArthur told The Canadian Press that this is because those like Lich are leaders of "an organization that had lots of tentacles."

The decision to deny Lich bail came a day after Canada's House of Commons voted to support Trudeau's use of the Emergencies Act, The Canadian Press said. The act allows authorities to designate no-go zones, compels tow trucks to tow vehicles and freezes protesters' bank accounts.

Trudeau said that while the government did not want to invoke the act, "it became clear that local and provincial authorities needed more tools to restore order and keep people safe."

Update 02/22/22, 11:40 a.m. ET: This story was updated to add more background and information.

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A Canadian trucker protest leader was charged with counseling to commit mischief and denied bail. Above, a demonstrator waves a Canadian flag in Ottawa on February 19. Photo by Andrej Ivanov/AFP via Getty Images