Updated at 12:45 yesterday.
Mylene Crete La Presse
(Ottawa) One of the “Freedom Convoy” organizers admitted Tuesday that he had no control over all of the truckers who paralyzed downtown Ottawa, although he asked them to be peaceful. Chris Barber is the first protester to present his version of the facts to the State of Emergency Commission.
He said he was surprised and moved by the size of the movement he, Brigitte Belton and Tamara Lich have started on social media. Chris Barber opposed the federal government’s mandatory vaccination of truckers crossing the Canada-US border. Their demonstration aimed primarily at bringing down this policy.
He tried to distance himself from Canada Unity, a group that wanted to overthrow the government with the help of the governor general and the Senate speaker. He also admitted that the organizers of the “Freedom Convoy” wanted Patrick King, one of the movement’s leading figures, to leave Ottawa because of his violent remarks. Videos of Mr. King saying that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “was going to be shot” and that “the only way to resolve the situation is bullets” made headlines at the time.
“I know he has problems. I have skeletons in my closet too,” he admitted writing to Tamara Lich. He admitted to having been an internet agitator himself, publishing racist and anti-Muslim content that he is no longer proud of.
“I was a different person during the convoy,” he said. Meeting people from all walks of life, crying and laughing with them changed him. “It humbled me and made me realize that my posts were evil and there was a better way to do it. »
The federal government’s attorney presented him with several newsletters sent out daily by the convoy organizers to truckers that profiled Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland as one of the leaders of the World Economic Forum’s “globalist elite,” one theory of the conspiracy.
He then handed her a death threat Ms. Freeland had received, in which the signatory claims to have declared war on the federal government, and asked her if he knew that Ontario Provincial Police found a person in Ottawa on the same day with armor and Weapons have arrested knives. “When you light a fire, can the flames get out of hand? he asked her?
“So I’ve been there a lot,” Chris Barber replied, adding that such a letter to the Deputy Prime Minister was the last thing he wanted. Then he admitted that the other demonstrators had not always listened to him.
Chris Barber was the liaison between the Ottawa Police Department and the truckers who parked all over the downtown streets. He helped negotiate with them to clear passageways for emergency vehicles. However, he had little success on the corner of Rideau and Sussex streets, where the Quebec group opposed health measures, the Farfadaas. Their leader, Steeve Charland, is scheduled to testify before the commission on Tuesday.
In his opinion, the “Freedom Convoy” was wrongly portrayed negatively in the media. He feels that despite the loud honking, the protest was not intrusive to Ottawa citizens. He found their sound annoying, but for him it was an expression of the euphoria of the moment.
The “freedom convoy” paralyzed the city center of the federal capital from January 28 until a three-day large-scale police operation between February 18 and 20 put an end to it after the historic application of the emergency law. The public inquiry, led by French Ontarian judge Paul Rouleau, aims to determine whether the extraordinary powers granted under this legislation were justified.