By Sheldon Spackman
City RCMP are thanking the public for their vigilance in providing Mounties with information that led to numerous property crime arrests in Red Deer last weekend. The crimes took place between Friday, March 3rd and Sunday, March 5th.
Police say in two cases, citizens assisted them by detaining suspects who were attempting to flee. While RCMP do not encourage the public to ever put themselves at risk by confronting criminals, they are grateful for the support of the public in seeing that 39 charges were sworn against seven men for property crimes over the weekend.
The first such incident happened around 3:30 pm on March 3rd. RCMP say that’s when they responded to a report of a stolen truck that was parked in a field at Highway 11A and Range Road 273A. The occupant of the truck was wanted on several outstanding warrants from nearby RCMP detachments and was taken into custody without incident. The truck had been reported stolen out of the Sundre area earlier the same morning. 26 year old Joseph Murdock Hayden faces 7 counts.
Then around 4 pm on March 3rd, Mounties responded to a report of suspicious activity downtown in the area of northbound Gaetz Avenue and Ross Street. On arrival, Police found a suspect who was wanted on an outstanding warrant and who was in possession of small amounts of ammunition, methadone and marijuana, in violation of probation conditions. 20 year old Braeden Jacob Lewis faces four new counts.
Shortly after 1 pm on Saturday, March 4th, RCMP arrested two men as they tried to sell a stolen truck after arranging the sale online. RCMP located one suspect in the Village Mall parking lot, where he had arranged to meet a buyer who did not know the vehicle was stolen. When police arrived, the suspect attempted to flee on foot but was detained by a citizen and taken into custody by police. The second suspect was identified through the course of the investigation and arrested at a residence in the Highland Green neighbourhood shortly afterward. 31 year old Matthew Douglas Bauer faces three counts, while 31 year old Brandyn John Beach faces one count of Trafficking in stolen property over $5,000.
About an hour later, RCMP responded to a report of a suspicious car in a parking lot on Halman Crescent. Mounties arrived to find a stolen SUV. As police contained the scene in preparation to arrest the male occupant of the vehicle, two citizens approached with a second suspect they had detained after catching him in the act of breaking into a nearby residence. That suspect broke free and tried to flee but after a brief foot chase and attempts to resist arrest, he was taken into custody. The first suspect in the stolen car also attempted to resist arrest but was taken into custody after a brief altercation. Police seized a number of weapons including a knife, bat and axe from the vehicle that the first suspect was prohibited from possessing due to court-imposed conditions. 32 year old Aaron Frederick Brown faces 11 counts, while 23 year old Jesse Lee Sprague faces three counts.
Finally, shortly after 5 am on Sunday, March 5th, RCMP arrested a man after responding to a report of a suspicious vehicle and locating the suspect parked in a stolen SUV in a lot at 67 Street and Taylor Drive. The suspect assaulted two police officers before being taken into custody. Both officers sustained minor injuries that didn’t require medical attention. The vehicle had been stolen out of Red Deer on February 9th as it sat unlocked and idling. 25 year old Martin Victor Talbot faces nine counts.
In a release, Corporal Karyn Kay says “These successful arrests were all made because citizens reported suspicious behaviour to the police when they saw it, and RCMP are so appreciative of the public engagement and support we’re seeing. However, police urge citizens to never put themselves in potential danger by confronting a criminal. You have no idea if they’re carrying a weapon, or if they’re intoxicated and likely to react violently and unpredictably in their efforts to escape arrest. The police are trained in tactics to subdue armed or aggressive suspects. Please leave that to us – we never want to see a member of the public injured as a result of a confrontation with a criminal.” Kay adds, “RCMP thank Red Deerians for the active role they play in locating stolen vehicles and reporting suspicious persons and behaviours. It’s clear from the number of property crime arrests and charges we saw between Thursday and Sunday that citizen engagement plays a key role in the RCMP’s crime prevention and enforcement work.”
‘Freedom Convoy’ organizers’ trial on scheduled break until after Thanksgiving
Tamara Lich arrives for her trial at the courthouse in Ottawa, on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2023. Lich and fellow Freedom Convoy organizer Chris Barber are charged with mischief, obstructing police, counselling others to commit mischief and intimidation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
The trial of “Freedom Convoy” organizers Tamara Lich and Chris Barber has begun a scheduled break that will continue until after Thanksgiving.
The court finished hearing the testimony of Serge Arpin, the chief of staff to Ottawa’s former mayor, on Friday.
He spoke about how the city responded to the protest that overwhelmed the downtown core for three weeks in early 2022.
Arpin also testified about his interactions with convoy organizers while working out a deal with former mayor Jim Watson to move big-rig trucks out of residential neighbourhoods.
The evidence was originally due to be wrapping up by this point in the trial, which had been scheduled to last 16 days, but Arpin is just the fourth witness to finish his testimony.
The trial was expected to hear from 22 witnesses, leaving the court to ponder how much more time will be needed to reach the finish line.
Justice Heather Perkins-McVey, who is overseeing the trial, has identified several dates in October and November.
Lawrence Greenspon, the lawyer representing Lich, said he does not want to set new court dates until the Crown has established a new, more accurate time estimate for its case.
As of Friday, the trial is expected to resume Oct. 11.
Lich and Barber are charged with mischief and counselling others commit offences such as mischief and intimidation for their role in organizing and prolonging the demonstration.
The defence questioned Arpin Friday about how city council and staff attempted to put an end the protest. As the mayor’s chief of staff, Arpin told the court he sat in on every council meeting.
He was grilled about a bylaw change on Feb. 9 last year that banned idling in a vehicle unless the temperature fell at or below -15 C. The bylaw originally allowed idling if the temperature was below 5 C.
“City council … was attempting to freeze out the truckers and their families,” Greenspon told the court.
Arpin said he believed the intention was to bring the demonstration to an end.
Arpin was also involved in the deal between Watson, Lich and other organizers to move trucks out of residential neighbourhoods and onto Wellington Street, in front of Parliament Hill.
He texted back and forth with the convoy organizers’ lawyer Keith Wilson on Feb. 14 and 15 in an exchange that was filed as evidence in the trial.
The texts suggest city staff did not give protest organizers or their lawyers a heads-up about plans to file a court injunction against demonstrators who violated city bylaws.
“Just so you know, it is highly irregular for the city’s lawyers to have done this without providing us lawyers here with notice,” Wilson wrote to Arpin on Feb. 15.
“This could change everything.”
Arpin told Wilson he was under the impression they knew about the court filing, but said in court that he never informed them himself until after the injunction was granted by a judge.
Lawyers representing the convoy organizers were not given an opportunity to oppose the application in court at the time.
The deal between Lich and the mayor fell apart later that day when police would no longer allow trucks to move closer to Parliament.
Arpin confirmed the police service underwent a change in command that day as a result of the police chief’s resignation.
He apologized to Wilson at the time, the text messages show.
“Our goal has always been de-escalation and I know you share this goal,” he texted to Wilson on the 16th.
The Crown hopes to pick up its case in October with eight local witnesses from Ottawa who lived or worked downtown during the Freedom Convoy protest.
Lich and Barber have already admitted that there was mischief taking place in the protest zone.
Greenspon has argued that the testimony of those witnesses would be akin to victim impact statements, and therefore shouldn’t be allowed to be heard during the trial.
B.C. premier suspects Ottawa holding back information about foreign interference
A flock of birds flies past as Moninder Singh, front right, a spokesperson for the British Columbia Gurdwaras Council (BCGC), waits to speak to reporters outside the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara Sahib in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, September 18, 2023, where temple president Hardeep Singh Nijjar was gunned down in his vehicle while leaving the temple parking lot in June. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
British Columbia Premier David Eby said he “strongly” suspects that the federal government is holding back information that could help the province protect its residents who have connections to India from foreign interference.
Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc has reached out, saying Ottawa wants to make sure the provincial government has the details it needs to keep B.C. residents safe, “but there has not been good information sharing,” the premier said Friday.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau revealed in Parliament on Monday that Canadian intelligence services were investigating “a potential link” between the Indian government and the fatal shooting of Sikh advocate Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Surrey, B.C., last June.
In response to the killing, Eby said on Friday that the priority should be protecting the criminal prosecution process so people can be held accountable for the killing.
But on the broader issue of ensuring community safety, he said there’s “a long way to go to share that information.”
Eby said people in B.C. have been “feeling pressure from India,” and he believes Ottawa has information through agencies including the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service that could help respond to foreign interference.
The premier’s initial statement in response to Trudeau’s announcement called on Ottawa to “share all relevant information” related not only to foreign interference, but also to “transnational organized crime threats” in the province.
He said Friday that the prime minister had reached out before telling Parliament about the probe based on “credible” information about the potential link between India and Nijjar’s killing.
Eby accepted Trudeau’s offer for a briefing by CSIS, but everything the premier knows about the situation is “in the public realm,” he said.
“I expressed my frustration in the meeting with the CSIS director about our inability to get more concrete information,” Eby said.
He made the remarks during a media question-and-answer session after addressing local politicians at the Union of BC Municipalities conference.
Eby said he understands there may need to be reform around the law governing CSIS in order for the agency to share the kind of information he’s looking for.
“If that’s what’s required, let’s make it happen, because the only way that we’re going to make traction on this is by the federal government trusting the provincial government with information and being able to act on it in our local communities,” he said.
Nijjar was a prominent supporter of the Khalistan separatism movement that advocates for a Sikh homeland in India’s Punjab province. He had been working to organize an unofficial referendum among the Sikh diaspora on independence from India at the time of his killing.
India designated Nijjar as a terrorist in 2020, an accusation he had denied.
Canada and India expelled each other’s diplomats in the fallout of Trudeau’s announcement, and India has halted visa services in Canada.
India’s government has denied the accusation as “absurd and motivated.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 22, 2023.
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