The L.-H.-La Fontaine tunnel is not a place to demonstrate, decides the judge by condemning Farfadaas
Guillaume Levasseur Le Devoir At trial, the three defendants argued that they had spontaneously decided to block the L.-H.-La Fontaine tunnel to make a “stunt” and denounce the police brutality they had witnessed during the demonstration held earlier that day.
A judge found guilty of mischief and conspiracy three members of the “Farfadaas”, accused of blocking the Louis-Hippolyte-La Fontaine tunnel for a few minutes on March 13, 2021. The leader of the anti-mask movement Mario Roy, the former leader identity group La Meute Steeve “L'Artiss” Charland and Karol Tardif will receive their sentence later.
Judge Jean-Jacques Gagné, of the Court of Quebec, rendered his decision orally Thursday morning in a room courtyard of the Montreal courthouse.
Not all public spaces lend themselves to the exercise of freedom of expression, ruled the magistrate, and certainly not a bridge-tunnel.
The defendants claim that they wanted to “send a message”, but they did so without regard to the potential for intimidation on other motorists in the tunnel.
“I therefore find that the defendants do not did not limit themselves to communicating a message. They took actions that were not reasonably necessary to do so,” he read.
These members of the anti-sanitary measures group the “Farfadaas” had been charged with mischief (for blocking the tunnel that connects Montreal to its South Shore) and for conspiracy. The criminal trial lasted four days last January.
Of the original seven defendants in the case, only three remained: one died before trial, two pleaded guilty, including André Desfossés on day one of the trial, and finally, Tommy Rioux was acquitted in the middle of the trial. The Crown prosecutor having declared that he had no evidence against this defendant, the judge immediately entered an acquittal.
The members of the trio chose to represent themselves, without a lawyer, and testified in their defence.
On March 13, 2021, a very large crowd gathered in Montreal to denounce the health measures imposed in an effort to counter the spread of COVID-19.
At trial, the three defendants argued that they spontaneously decided to block the tunnel to make a “stunt” and thus denounce the police brutality they had witnessed during the demonstration held earlier that day. .
Various videos viewed by the judge — some recorded by motorists, others by Department of Transport cameras — show two rows of vehicles occupying the three lanes slowing down before coming to a halt in the tunnel around 6:30 p.m. descend to sing on the roadway, to the sound of horns and insults aimed at Prime Minister François Legault. We then see a motorist, probably exasperated, attack protesters' vehicles with a hammer, which puts an end to the blockage.
The traffic stoppage lasted about five minutes, according to the district attorney. Crown Me Martin Bourgeois. Rather 4 minutes and 11 seconds, corrected Mr. Charland, arguing that the stop would have been shorter without the intervention of the “man with the hammer”.
At trial, the defendants argued their right to demonstrate, including in the street.
Me Martin Bourgeois had nothing to do with this argument: “We cannot use the screen of freedom of expression to make no whatever,” he pleaded before Judge Gagné.
The Louis-Hippolyte-La Fontaine tunnel is “one of the worst places” to “send a message”: motorists who found trapped and captive during his lockdown on March 13, 2021 lived in fear, he argued.
Defendant Mario Roy has already indicated his intention to appeal his conviction .