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Convoy organizers back on trial, the long-range transit plan, and the PWHL draft: 5 stories to watch in Ottawa this week

Tamara Lich arrives for her trial at the courthouse in Ottawa, on Monday, Sept. 11, 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 Tamara Lich arrives for her trial at the courthouse in Ottawa, on Monday, Sept. 11, 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

Week three of the trial of "Freedom Convoy" organizers, the city's long-term transit plan, and preparing for the fall virus season. looks at five stories to watch in Ottawa this week

Convoy organizers back on trial

Week three of the trial of Chris Barber and Tamara Lich gets underway this week.

The two high-profile figures within the "Freedom Convoy" movement are on trial for mischief, counselling others to commit mischief, obstructing police and intimidation for their roles in the 2022 protest that gridlocked downtown Ottawa for three weeks.

Technical issues and questions surrounding the admissibility of social media evidence have held up the trial. On Thursday, the court had to be led through Facebook posts and be told how to know when they were posted, how comments work, and how to tell whether a video was recorded and posted later or streamed live.

The Crown is attempting to prove that Barber and Lich were directing the protesters who blocked city streets with heavy vehicles and that they encouraged others to remain in the city after police ordered them to leave.

The defence is arguing that Lich and Barber were two members of a much larger movement, all of whom were exercising their Charter right to freedom of expression.

Freedom Convoy organizers Tamara Lich and Chris Barber (right) make their way with counsel to the Public Order Emergency Commission, Tuesday, November 1, 2022 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

City councillors get update on long-range transit plan

City staff will be holding a technical briefing for councillors Monday outlining the long-term financial plan for the transit system.

OC Transpo is projecting a $40.8 million deficit in 2023, with fare revenues projected to be $12.3 million below budget this year and A report for the finance and corporate services committee warned OC Transpo is facing a projected $35 million fare revenue shortfall next year.

The budgetary pressures facing OC Transpo are among the most significant issues the city has to deal with as it drafts the 2024 budget.

Last week, transit commission heard that while the city is hoping the federal and provincial governments come through with some additional funding, the head of OC Transpo is not optimistic that will be the case.

A service review is underway, which will look at adjusting routes and could be recommending cuts, as staff say they plan to "reduce spending" in 2024.

An OC Transpo bus is seen in this undated file image. (Leah Larocque/CTV News Ottawa)

Fall respiratory season approaching

Ottawa's medical officer of health is warning that a combination of flu, RSV, and COVID-19 could put pressure on the local health-care system this fall.

The latest COVID-19 wastewater surveillance shows the levels of COVID-19 are "high" in Ottawa, while the testing per cent positivity rate was over 18 per cent last week, according to Ottawa Public Health.

Dr. Vera Etches says OPH is monitoring viruses as students get back to schools.

The board of health meets Monday to discuss the fall respiratory virus season. A report for the board suspects 2023 will look like 2022 did, with "early circulation and peaking of influenza and RSV, along with an ongoing burden of COVID-19 in the community" this fall and winter.

Local hospitals have tightened their mandatory masking rules ahead of the fall after many were loosened over the summer.

A sick man covering his mouth. (cottonbro studio/Pexels)

"One million person march" on Parliament Hill

Protesters and counter-protesters are expected to meet on Parliament Hill this Wednesday as activists hold what they're calling a "one million person march" opposing what they characterize as "gender ideology teachings" and promoting policies that ensure "parental consent remains paramount," according to organizers.

It comes as 2SLGBTQ+ rights and issues have been at the forefront of culture war battles across North America, particularly when it comes to transgender rights and gender-affirming care.

At least two provincial governments in Canada have proposed legislation that would force educators to tell parents if a child wishes to be addressed by a different name or different pronouns at school. Delegates at the recent Conservative Party of Canada convention also voted in favour of prohibiting "medicinal or surgical interventions" for gender-diverse and transgender kids, should a Conservative government form.

It's unclear how many people will be on the Hill on Wednesday. Counter-protesters have outnumbered past anti-2SLGBTQ + protests in Ottawa, and several local groups and the Ontario Federation of Labour have announced plans to show up Wednesday to counter-demonstrate.

Both the protesters and the counter-protesters insist they will be peaceful and are discouraging violence.

Similar events are planned for other cities across Canada as well.

A protestor in support of Pride celebrations and LGBTQ2S+ Rights sings via a megaphone during a protest between Pride supporters and counter-protestors near in the Ottawa's west end on Friday, June 9, 2023. (Spencer Colby/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Another step towards the puck dropping on women's pro hockey

The next step toward getting a professional women's hockey team on the ice takes place Monday with the Professional Women's Hockey League (PWHL) draft.

Ottawa is one of the original six teams in the new PWHL, which will begin its inaugural season in January.

The as yet unnamed Ottawa team has already announced three players—forwards Emily Clark and Brianne Jenner and goalie Emerance Maschmeyer—its general manager, Michael Hirshfeld, and head coach Carla MacLeod. TD Place will be Ottawa's home arena.

Toronto, Montreal, Boston, New York, and Minneapolis-St. Paul are the other five teams in the new league.

The draft will be held Monday. Ottawa has the fifth overall pick.

Canada's Emily Clark (26) and Canada goalkeeper Emerance Maschmeyer (38) pose in front of Olympic workers after defeating United States in the women's gold medal hockey game at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022, in Beijing. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)


The trial of Tamara Lich and Chris Barber is entering its third week this week, not its second. Top Stories

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