Randy Hillier wants a change of venue for his ‘Freedom Convoy’ trial

If the trial is in Ottawa, there’s no chance the polarizing Hillier would get an unpolluted jury, his defence lawyer said.

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Former MPP Randy Hillier, facing nine charges stemming from last year’s “Freedom Convoy” occupation of downtown Ottawa, wants a change of venue for his trial to ensure an untainted jury.

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His defence lawyer, David Anber, has filed a motion for a change of venue that will be heard later this year.

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If the trial is in Ottawa, there’s no chance the polarizing Hillier would get an unpolluted jury, his defence lawyer said.

“Of course we are asking to change the venue. We had the mayor, the prime minister, and others in high positions demonizing the Freedom Convoy in various media across the City of Ottawa — often invoking facts that later turned out to be debunked,” Anber told this newspaper.

“There’s a class action suit naming large chunks of the city as so-called victims of the convoy. How are we supposed to pick an unbiased jury from this community after that?” Anber asked.

Hillier is facing nine charges, including an accusation that he encouraged his social media followers to flood police non-emergency lines during the peak of the demonstration, when Ottawa police were pleading with the public to keep those phone lines open.

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Hillier’s tweet on Feb. 19 reached his 56,000 followers, and over the next six days the Ottawa Police Service non-emergency line logged 274 malicious calls, according to an outline of the Crown’s case against Hillier, while there was a “surge” in similar calls to the city’s 911 line.

Hillier told his Twitter followers at the time to “keep calling” the non-emergency line and said that “in a democracy expressing yourself is a fundamental freedom.”

Hillier is also charged with assault. That police charge stems from the day he marched alongside Maxime Bernier and allegedly ignored an officer’s directions as the protest converged on Parliament Hill, then “threw” a metal gate out of the way, according to the Crown’s case.

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Hillier shouted “Let’s go!” as he used his shoulder and hip to push the officer out of the way while a group of demonstrators forced their way through the barricade, according to the Crown.

After his release from Ottawa police headquarters, he told reporters he was a freedom fighter being prosecuted for dissenting views. 

He is to reside there under the supervision of his wife, Jane Hillier, who will act as his court-approved surety after posting a $25,000 bond, while Hillier posted an additional $10,000 bond.

After his arrest last year, his defence lawyer told this paper: “He denies committing any of these offences and we’re going to vigorously fight them.”

Hillier, a visible presence during the convoy protest, is facing two counts of mischief, two of counselling to commit mischief, one of counselling someone to commit an indictable offence, three counts of resisting or obstructing a public or peace officer and one of assaulting a public or peace officer.

He denied the assault charge when asked by reporters outside the police station after his arrest last year.

“I only ever greeted people … with love and affection and embrace and handshakes. So unless handshakes or warm embraces are now considered assault, I have no idea,” Hillier said at the time.

None of the charges against Hillier have been proven in court.

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