‘Freedom Convoy’ organizers’ lawyer removed from hearings

One of the lawyers representing the core “Freedom Convoy” organizers at the Public Order Emergency Commission was asked to leave the hearing room on Tuesday after a tense exchange with the commissioner overseeing the proceedings.

Commissioner Paul Rouleau instructed security to remove Freedom Corp. lawyer Brendan Miller, after arguing over federal government redactions to documents, and an attempt to have a ministerial staffer added to the witness list.

Miller, who has taken the lead in questioning witnesses from the perspective of the protesters, was trying to have Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino’s director of communications Alexander Cohen—who was present at the commission on Tuesday—testify before the commission.

First raising this request when the commission took a break during Mendicino’s testimony, the commissioner told him that if he wanted to have a last-minute witness added to the roster, he needed to make his submission in writing.

Miller then tried again after the break to make his case before the commission, prompting Rouleau to quickly interject. A back and forth ensued in which Miller noted he already had outstanding written applications related to federal government document redactions that the commissioner has “refused to rule on.”

This resulted in Rouleau calling for a brief break in proceedings and asking security to “deal with” Miller, who was then escorted out.

Speaking with reporters outside the Library and Archives Canada building, where the hearings are taking place, Miller questioned the direction the commission was heading.

The Government of Canada has continuously and every day dropped hundreds of documents on the parties, and the parties [to the inquiry] are frustrated. It is not just myself,” Miller said. “They have tried to turn this entire proceeding into an inquiry about the failures of [former Ottawa police] chief Sloly as opposed to actually about the invocation of the Emergencies Act.”

Miller restated his concerns around the degree of redactions placed on certain documents and turned over to the commission, saying the duty he has to his clients is “to uncover the truth.” He then veered into unsubstantiated and refuted claims about certain individuals’ presence within the protests until one of his clients, convoy organizer Tamara Lich, pulled him away.

Hours later, after Rouleau largely dismissed Freedom Corp.’s application to access to unredacted versions of federal documents, Miller was permitted back into the hearing room to cross-examine Mendicino.

“Before I start, I apologize for talking over you earlier today,” Miller said to Rouleau.

MILLER LINE OF QUESTIONING CALLED ‘RECKLESS’

Then, after a few introductory questions, Miller began asking Mendicino about the aforementioned allegations.

Over the course of the last five weeks of public hearings, Miller has brought up text messages Cohen sent on a few occasions, in an effort to suggest the Liberals were trying to “craft a narrative” around the protests. The message chain in question is between Cohen and a PMO staff member discussing communication approaches to highlight the “more extreme comments” from some participants.

Miller’s latest line of inquiry pursing his claim that efforts were made to discredit the protests, has focused on an allegation that that he is aware of the identity of a masked man who was documented carrying a Nazi flag on the second day of the Ottawa “Freedom” Convoy protests. This flag-bearer —who has been named— Miller alleges, works for the firm Enterprise Canada and has connections to the Liberal Party of Canada.

Similar to his calls for Cohen to appear, Miller has sought to have this individual to testify, and has stated that the convoy organizer’s legal team has an affidavit from someone who met this person at the protests and can identify him.

This line of questioning with Mendicino did not get far after a federal government lawyer interjected, alleging Miller was “asserting claims in order to associate them with the credibility of this public hearing process.” The matter was also raised with CSIS officials during a previous cross-examination.

Enterprise Canada has strongly denied Miller’s accusation, calling it “unfounded” and “defamatory” while noting that the person in question was not in Ottawa during the protests, and his latest political involvement was backing Pierre Poilievre in his successful Conservative leadership bid.

In a cease and desist notice made public on Tuesday, Enterprise Canada said it was “irresponsible and reckless to use the Commission’s process to make these false and damaging allegations in a highly visible forum.”

Asked by reporters on Tuesday in his post-ouster-scrum whether he was worried about potential legal action Miller said no, suggesting the proof which he has not yet presented will be his defence.

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