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The Coutts Four Debacle

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I want to provide a brief preface to this article by saying two things: one, this is an ongoing issue that has already seen some dramatic change since I first began this article and, two, I am in no way an expert on this issue and that this is more a broad overview to help give greater context to those who are not aware of what has happened to these four men.

Although many are well aware of the main focus of the Truckers Protest in Canada’s capital city of Ottawa, Ontario, likely many outside of Canada (and probably quite a few even within Canada) do not realize that there were multiple protests nationwide; especially from Ontario westward. One of these protests was in a small border town called Coutts in the prairie province of Alberta. As a culmination of this protest, Trudeau’s government finally realized the trucker protesters were not the imminent threat they were originally assumed to be. This was demonstrated by Trudeau’s scurrying off to hide in a remote, hidden location, where he held press conferences with an unsettled look on his face. Once they understood these were just “Normies” who still believed in the old system and only wanted to protest and party (which also included feeding the poor, cleaning the streets, and doing more to reduce crime on the streets of Ottawa than the police had ever done, as the men of the protest would chase away any obvious unsavoury types) Trudeau’s government regained its composure and invoked the ostensibly rarely to be used Emergencies Act as a means to crush the protest and bring everyone in it, or even slightly connected to it — including donors — to heel.

On February 13 and 14th, 2022, far away from the main center of protest, four men were arrested at the Coutts border blockade that was near the American border town of Sweetgrass, Montana (the blockades intended to keep all flow of traffic between Canada and the USA). Their crime? Conspiracy to commit murder, possession of a weapon for dangerous purpose, mischief to property valued over $5,000, and in the case of one of the charged, utter threats. Many of these charges were due to activity some distance up the road from where these farmers and truckers were protesting where a cache of over a dozen firearms, thousands of rounds of ammunition, a machete, and body armour were discovered by the RCMP.

The details related to this discovery are somewhat confused, where the woman living there, Joanne Person, claims most of the firearms were unknown to her, with only a .22 caliber rifle that was licensed and legally stored (Canada having some fairly rigorous gun regulations; far more rigorous than in the US) belonged to her. Indeed, Person had the wits about her to make a secret audio recording of the search, where she did much to expose the suspicious nature of this cache; suspicious in the sense that they may have been planted there. Initially, Person was herself charged, but thanks to such revelations, the charges were quietly dropped against her. In addition, eleven people in total were charged at Person’s home as she was known to host the protesters, but ultimately the only ones of consequence were against four men: Christopher Lysak, Chris Carbert, Jerry Morin, and Anthony Olienick. Admittedly, the four were armed at the protest, as there were growing concerns of a possible violent standoff, but not with the weapons found on the property up the road from them. Whether they are guilty to any degree of these charges is yet to be determined, but the curious situation at Person’s home does bring some questions to mind as to whether the authorities were manipulating events to ensure at least some of those charged would face time in prison. There is little evidence any of these four men had ever been to Person’s home or knew anything about this cache that was “discovered.”

Since their arrest, the four accused have remained in custody. They have applied multiple times for bail, but each time they’ve been denied. This may seem reasonable if you truly believed they were a threat to society, but the charges have increasingly been under scrutiny as more accusations are coming out that the substance of the evidence is scant; regardless, the courts have decided to keep them detained. Meanwhile, accused suspects in other instances have been able to secure bail, even when they’ve been openly violent. A clear case of this is a member of Antifa who attempted to run over protestors in the town of Headingley in another prairie province of Manitoba. Even though the perpetrator, David Zegarac, a long-time member of Antifa and associated far-left groups, was clearly seen and even videoed veering his vehicle towards peaceful protesters, injuring four, and then later running red lights and resisting arrest, he was granted bail within days after the incident.
The ongoing denial of bail to the so-called Coutts’ Four (as they’ve become known among their supporters) would normally be a breach of Canadian law, whether in terms of English Common Law that is still a part of Canada’s legal system, or its Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Either way, the accused are not normally denied bail in such circumstances, but the one key difference here that is outside the norm is the invocation of the Emergencies Act. Under this Act, the federal government has much wider powers to effectively institute virtual martial law. Yet, the Act was never intended to be used (or abused) in this way, as the idea behind it was to be reserved for real threats of insurrection; not because of protests that are deemed inconvenient to the government with only minimal infractions of the law at best. This was further underlined by both a parliamentary commission and then a federal court decision declaring that this use of the Act was excessive and should not have been invoked. Regardless, two of the Coutts Four remain behind bars coming up on two years since their arrest for the foreseeable future.

As you can imagine, much like the January 6th prisoners, this has resulted in significant hardship for the men, their families, and friends. Along with the obvious stress and having the men’s names and reputations smeared in public (all before having their day in court) there has been the economic hardship of legal bills and lack of income that would normally come from the men. There’s also been the personal difficulty of not being able to see their loved ones often. Again, remember, actual violent perpetrators such as Zegarac have been permitted freedom while awaiting trial. Another sad note is how little attention the plight of these men has received in their homeland. Mainstream media either ignores them or tends to treat them as criminals, but no consideration that other accused people have received better treatment for worse crimes. It has been left to alternative media in Canada, as well as international media, both alternative and mainstream conservatives such as Tucker Carlson, the NY Post, and the Daily Mail to shine the light on what has been going on.

As mentioned in the preface to this article, there have been some dramatic events that have since occurred. Two of the four accused have since been released with them pleading guilty to only minor firearms-related charges: Jerry Morin has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to traffic firearms, while Christopher Lysak has plead guilty to possession of a loaded, restricted firearm in an unauthorized place. In each case, these charges would normally only result in a fine and a temporary suspension of their firearms license (especially in Lysak’s case) but they received time served; meaning they spent almost two years in jail for something they would never have spent time incarcerated for. Neither of the men admitted to any wrongdoing as far as the more serious charges, notably of threatening to murder members of the RCMP. This is important, as it shows just how weak the case was against them that the Crown (what they call the prosecution in Canada) didn’t press the issue regarding it. The other two members of the Coutts Four have to wait a little longer, mostly due to having different legal counsel, which some have said has been less competent than that of Lysak and Morin. In all likelihood, they’ll receive a similar outcome.

Finally, to be clear, this article is not intended to state that these men are completely innocent of all the charges against them, as has already been noted about Lysak and Morin’s admission of guilt over those firearms-related charges. Instead, it’s more about what they’ve been accused of has included some rather dubious evidence, and, perhaps the bigger issue, is that this has been more about the basic right of bail that has been suppressed without any adequate reason; especially after the very recent federal court case that has effectively repudiated the entire use of the Emergencies Act. It is unconscionable that these men have been treated this way in what is undoubtedly a politically charged act of vengeance. The Trudeau government is being vindictive in making these men an example to all of what happens to those who embarrass their regime and refuse to submit to their arbitrary mandates.

Postscript: If you’d like to contribute financially to help these men and their families here are links to their fundraising sites on Give Send Go:

Christopher Lysak: https://www.givesendgo.com/lysakdefensefund
Chris Carbert: https://www.givesendgo.com/GBC3A
Jerry Morin: https://www.givesendgo.com/G9D6V
Anthony Olienick: https://www.givesendgo.com/GBDGK

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