A different outlook presented as convoy leaders continued their testimony.

ABOVE: Tamara Lich and Pat King both testified this week at the inquiry into the use of the Emergencies Act. 

The testimony of ‘Freedom Convoy’ organizers this week painted a very different and, in some cases, engaging portrait of protestors as the main people behind the February 2022 occupation of downtown Ottawa took the stand at the inquiry into the use of the Emergencies Act.

The first significant testimony of the week was from Tom Marazzo; a retired Canadian forces Captain with 25 years of service and candidate for the Ontario Party in the June 2022 provincial election.

Marazzo told the inquiry that during the Covid pandemic, for the first time in his life, he felt afraid of the power of the government. He also said that he had become fearful of law enforcement, its powers over the populace, and the lack of doctors speaking up for informed consent laws.

He also felt that the vaccine passport system was a violation of medical rights. Marazzo previously worked as an instructor at Georgian College and claimed he was fired for questioning the legality of the college’s vaccine mandate system. After a call from James Boughter, a friend who was involved with the protest, he was asked to lend his military expertise to organize the logistical needs of the protestors when they arrived in Ottawa.

Marazzo explained the logistics operation behind the protest and how he came up with the “magic number” of 322 trucks in downtown Ottawa after four days of counting. Still, he could not say the total amount given the satellite protests in the Ottawa area. Marazzo also stressed that while in charge, he planned routes to ensure emergency lanes to hospitals were always open despite the protest.

Marazzo also discussed the Ottawa Police Services Board and stated he believed that Diane Deans desired to direct police operations and that when it came to former Chief Peter Sloly, she was acting as “his boss.” Marazzo testified that he tried to constantly communicate with the various police forces operating in the area so that the protest would not escalate.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association then asked Marazzo about his financial situation after the government started freezing accounts. Marazzao said all his accounts were frozen, including his credit card on file with the pharmacy for his son’s—who has a chronic heart condition—medication. His ex-wife’s credit rating was deeply affected even though they had been divorced for ten years but shared a joint account for the sake of their son.

Other interesting facts uncovered during testimony on Thursday included the total amount of money raised by the protest movement. Of the $24 million raised through online crowdfunding, 86 percent of this was donated by Canadians, 11 percent by Americans, and 3 percent by others. This evidence was brought forward by Commission Lawyer Daniel Shepherd and painted a different picture than the foreign subversion narrative presented by the CBC’s Nil Köksal when she, without evidence, tied the protest to Russian subversion.

Pat King testified next. He revisited his role in the 2019 “United We Roll,” when federal anti-Alberta oil legislation motivated Alberta oil and gas industry workers to travel to Ottawa to protest. King stated that the vaccine mandate was wrong because truckers “are the backbone of the Canadian economy” and “truckers are the guys who want to be left alone.”

King defended the protest as being fundamentally peaceful and said that any danger was from public officials’ treatment of the convoy protestors and from Ottawa residents who “threw eggs” and “dropped marbles off of high rises” at them. King described the occupation as Woodstock-esque, saying “I’ve never seen anything more loving and peaceful in my life.”

King further admonished the intolerance of those opposed to the protest, saying that his lawyer had been threatened along with friends and their children. King got under the skin of a cross-examiner from Ottawa resident’s coalition, lawyer Paul Champ, when he said, “this town does not like people who speak out.”

Champ angrily said that the people of Ottawa had “one morning” at the inquiry to tell their side, whereas the organizers were given a “full week” to tell their side of events.

When questioning resumed, Champ went on to ask where King sourced fuel, to which he caustically replied, “patriotic Canadians.” King’s two hours of testimony were abrasive, defensive, and overtly ideological.

Tamara Lich, perhaps the most well-known of the convoy organizers, took to the stand. She spoke about her motivation for organizing the ‘Freedom Convoy’ and her political background in the Maverick Party. Lich said she felt a personal sense of Western alienation because Alberta had no say or voice in the election of the Trudeau Liberals and felt the government was imposed on the province by the rest of Canada and that Alberta has “no voice in the House of Commons.”

Lich testified that the convoy’s financing was handled at a central location in downtown Ottawa where the cash was distributed. In earlier testimony, another protest organizer stated that money was handed out in envelopes of $2000 to the protestors, totaling about $20,000 per day.

When the crowdfunding streams were shut down, Lich noted that she could raise funds directly through e-transfer, most of which went towards fuel for the trucks. Interestingly, Lich also testified that she did not want Pat King to attend the protest because of his behaviour, including the violent rhetoric he previously used against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Still, Lich maintained that the demonstrations were fundamentally peaceful despite what Ottawa residents, politicians, and law enforcement said about them during the three weeks and afterward.

The organizers’ testimony has made for the most interesting week so far in the inquiry into the use of the Emergencies Act. Justin Trudeau and federal officials, whose communications have already been cited at the inquiry, will testify before things conclude on November 25, 2022.