OTTAWA — Pat King, a far-right influencer accused of spurring protesters to break the law during the so-called Freedom Convoy occupation around Parliament Hill, will remain in jail after he was denied bail in an Ottawa court on Friday.
King is the second convoy organizer whose bid to get out from behind bars was rejected this week, after protest spokesperson Tamara Lich was denied bail on Tuesday.
As in Lich’s case, King’s bail bid was rejected on grounds that he presented a “substantial likelihood” to reoffend if released, and that would damage public faith in the criminal justice system.
Andrew Seymour, the justice of the peace overseeing King’s bail hearing, also expressed doubts about King’s proposed surety — an Alberta woman named Kerry Komix who said she met King four weeks ago and travelled with the convoy to Ottawa.
“The court would be taking an unacceptable risk in trusting the supervision of Mr. King to Ms. Komix,” Seymour concluded.
Seymour also agreed with Crown lawyer Moiz Karimjee’s argument that, given the seriousness of the allegations against him, King could face a “lengthy term of imprisonment should he be convicted.”
“Downtown streets descended into lawlessness,” Seymour said.
“It shook Ottawans’ and Canadians’ faith in institutions such as government and the police to protect them. The alleged offences are extraordinarily serious and unprecedented.”
Seymour also rejected the argument from King’s lawyer, W. Calvin Rosemond, that leaving his client in jail awaiting trial would expose him to the risk of contracting COVID-19.
“It is somewhat ironic that an individual whose raison d’être is to protest vehemently against public health measures that are designed to reduce the spread of COVID would now suggest that … the potential of being infected at a detention centre should impact the court’s consideration,” Seymour said.
Rosemond declined to comment when asked whether he would seek a review of the bail decision.
King, 44, livestreamed his arrest last Friday, as police started moving against the convoy occupation around Parliament Hill. He is charged with mischief, counselling to commit mischief, counselling to disobey a court order, and counselling to obstruct police.
He was one of several organizers arrested as police moved in to clear the convoy occupation that had entrenched itself around Parliament Hill for more than three weeks, blocking main downtown streets with parked semi trucks and other vehicles, as well as a stage for performances and speeches, bouncy castles, inflatable hot tubs and makeshift kitchens for cooking and distributing food.
Many of the protesters expressed opposition to COVID-19 health measures and vaccination mandates, while some promoted baseless conspiracy theories, misinformation about the pandemic, and called for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to resign.
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The decision to deny King bail came after Seymour rejected an attempt by the Crown to reopen the case to include evidence from a Mountie in Alberta that alleges King bought a restricted handgun in defiance of a court order.
“It’s like a person charged with dangerous driving being asked not to operate a car … two days later, he’s seen operating a tank,” Karimjee said.
Karimjee added that the alleged purchase of a handgun is also relevant to a statement King made in a video played during his hearing on Tuesday, in which King is shown stating that Trudeau is “going to catch a bullet one day,” and that “the only way that this is going to get solved is with bullets.”
Rosemond responded that the Crown should have been able to find this evidence on its own, and raised concerns that its emergence on the same day that a bail decision was expected could delay the case and unfairly cause King to spend more time behind bars even while he’s presumed innocent.
Rosemond also dismissed King’s comment about bullets as “forecasting, like a political scientist might,” and argued that if the Crown actually thought this revealed an intention to act, it would have tried earlier to find King’s gun records.
Seymour agreed with the defence, stating the relevance to the current case is “limited” because King isn’t charged with a firearms offence or orchestrating any violence. He also said the Crown had several days before the bail hearing “to run what would conceivably be a rather routine check of gun registry and licence records.”
During King’s bail hearing on Tuesday, his proposed surety said she was willing to borrow against her home in rural Alberta to put up at least $50,000 to bail King out of jail. Under questioning from Karimjee, Komix said she was willing to increase that amount to $105,000, which she said was the full value of her home.
Komix also revealed she had only known King for four weeks, and had travelled with him from Alberta to Ottawa with the so-called “Freedom Convoy.” And she admitted she was part of a cryptocurrency fundraising campaign for convoy truckers with King.
Karimjee argued this showed Komix shared King’s ideology and could not be trusted as his surety.
“Her being proposed as a surety is like one thief being tasked to supervise another burglar,” Karimjee said at the time.
Seymour agreed Friday that the plan to have Komix oversee King on bail had “significant frailties,” stating there are two inferences he could draw from her testimony — “and neither of them are positive.”
Either Komix “is firmly entrenched among the leaders of the ‘Freedom Convoy,’” or “she is easily manipulated by those who are.”
King is scheduled to return to court on March 18.
Alex Ballingall is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @aballinga
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