During a meeting between city employees and “Freedom Convoy” protesters, notes were taken revealing that the City of Ottawa entertained the idea of allowing big-rig trucks to stay on the street along Parliament Hill indefinitely, according to court proceedings. The notes, produced by the defense during the trial of Tamara Lich and Chris Barber, who organized the convoy, indicated that the city’s emergency services manager, Kim Ayotte, had outlined an area on Wellington Street where the city agreed to stage trucks continuously. However, Ayotte testified that the police did not agree to this and it was not part of the deal.
The agreement between the convoy organizers and then-mayor Jim Watson was brokered by Dean French, the former chief of staff to Premier Doug Ford. The deal involved moving the trucks out of residential areas and onto Wellington Street during the protest. Ayotte considered the agreement a success when Barber reported that he had moved 40 trucks on February 14. However, the efforts were halted on February 15 due to communication issues between the police and protesters.
The court proceedings revealed inconsistencies in Ayotte’s affidavit, as it did not mention the earlier agreement between convoy organizers and the city to reduce the size of the protest zone. Defense lawyers argued that the affidavit inaccurately portrayed the level of cooperation between the demonstrators and the city.
This trial sheds light on the complexity of managing large-scale protests and the challenges that arise when trying to navigate agreements between organizers and authorities. It raises questions about the role of communication and expectations between all parties involved in such situations.