Judge rejects ‘Freedom Convoy’ lawyer’s racist flag claims as a ‘fishing expedition’

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OTTAWA—It could be a distraction and a waste of time for the Emergencies Act inquiry to pursue a “Freedom Convoy” lawyer’s conspiracy principle that has “little foundation in evidence,” says the decide main the method.

In a determination launched Wednesday morning, commissioner Paul Rouleau rejected a written utility by the lawyer representing some protest organizers on the inquiry as, at the least partly, “a fishing expedition” primarily based on hypothesis.

Brendan Miller, the lawyer for a charity referred to as Freedom Corp, has claimed the federal authorities tried to discredit convoy protesters as extremists. He seems to have falsely recommended the media, together with the Star, colluded with a public relations agency referred to as Enterprise Canada to assist the federal government do that, and has repeatedly accused an Enterprise worker by identify of carrying a Nazi flag to the convoy occupation in Ottawa — an allegation the agency says prompted loss of life threats towards its worker as it threatens to sue Miller for libel.

In his determination Wednesday, Rouleau walked by way of Miller’s allegations whereas rejecting his utility as missing proof and posing a distraction to the inquiry’s core mandate, which is to probe how and why the federal authorities made the controversial determination to invoke the never-before-used Emergencies Act to take care of the convoy protests towards public well being measures final winter.

Rouleau additionally famous that Miller tried to advance his principle by questioning inquiry witnesses about it — together with officers from Canada’s nationwide spy company and two federal cupboard ministers — however was unable to uncover proof to assist it.

Rouleau ejected Miller from the inquiry on Tuesday after he repeatedly interrupted the listening to and vented frustration about his push for the “truth.”

Miller didn’t present remark when requested by the Star on Wednesday.

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In his written utility, Miller requested Rouleau to compel police to offer the licence plate data of a truck photographed with a Confederate flag hooked up to it throughout the protests. Miller claimed the truck didn’t belong to a protester and was photographed by a politician.

Rouleau rejected that utility, describing Miller’s claims as “purely speculative” with “no proper foundation.”

“This is, in essence, a fishing expedition,” Rouleau wrote.

Miller additionally needed the Enterprise worker he accused of carrying a Nazi flag, as nicely as a freelance photographer who labored on the protests, to be compelled to testify.

According to Rouleau, Miller argued in his utility that members of the “political executive” tried to “paint the protesters as racists and extremists, notwithstanding the intelligence from law enforcement saying otherwise.” When the protesters arrived to start what was a three-week occupation of vehicles and encampments round Parliament Hill, Miller alleges the federal government’s effort included the circulation of pictures of Nazi and Confederate flags among the many protesters — together with within the Star.

In his utility, Miller claimed the individuals carrying the flags weren’t protesters however “provocateurs,” Rouleau mentioned. Miller additionally claimed the Enterprise worker who denies being there truly took pictures of one among these “provocateurs” and carried a Nazi flag himself.

Rouleau mentioned Miller first made this declare primarily based on images he alleges present the Enterprise worker on the protests, however the decide says the faces within the images are “obscured.” Miller additionally submitted an affidavit from a man named Shawn Folkes, during which Folkes claims to have met the person with the Nazi flag and later concluded after watching Miller elevate the conspiracy on the inquiry that the particular person is the Enterprise worker.

He notes that Miller additionally speculates with out proof in his written utility that “it is possible” Enterprise Canada did this “at the direction of the prime minister, his staff or both.”

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Miller first falsely claimed the Enterprise worker took a photograph of a Confederate flag that appeared in a Star column written by a political commentator with hyperlinks to the general public relations firm, then later said it was taken by the freelance photographer, Rouleau wrote.

According to Rouleau, Miller’s utility suggests it’s suspicious the photographer’s on-line portfolio contains pictures of the prime minister, and that Miller — when questioning Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino on Tuesday — tried to ascertain a connection between the prime minister and the photographer. “He did not,” Rouleau concluded.

Miller has “raised serious allegations about Enterprise Canada with little foundation in evidence,” Rouleau wrote. Given the seriousness of the accusations, Rouleau mentioned the inquiry must canvass new proof from the targets of Miller’s principle, which “would constitute a very significant distraction from the commission’s core mandate.

“In light of the absence of any other factual support, it is not a prudent use of the commission’s remaining time to pursue Freedom Corp.’s theory.”

Rouleau additionally rejected Miller’s utility to elevate redactions of presidency paperwork submitted on the inquiry, stating there was no purpose for him to reveal what have been deemed cupboard secrets and techniques. Rouleau mentioned he has learn the blacked-out parts of the paperwork and that not one of the data “relates in any way” to Miller’s conspiracy principle.

“As troublesome as Freedom Corp.’s allegations might be, even if they had been supported by compelling evidence, the fact is they would have little, if any, relevance to the key issues the commission must determine,” he wrote.

Alex Ballingall is an Ottawa-based reporter masking federal politics for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @aballinga

Tonda MacCharles is an Ottawa-based reporter masking federal politics for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @tondamacc

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