OTTAWA—The chief of staff to former Ottawa mayor Jim Watson appeared to agree with a defence lawyer’s suggestion that a bylaw change in early 2022 that lowered the temperature at which drivers are allowed to idle their vehicles was an attempt to “freeze out the truckers and their families.”

“You don’t disagree with me, sir, that the effect of this bylaw was an attempt by the city council to freeze out the demonstrators in the red zone, correct?” asked defence lawyer Lawrence Greenspon on Sept. 22, day 13 of the criminal trial of convoy organizers Chris Barber and Tamara Lich.

“I believe that would have been the outcome,” replied Serge Arpin, outgoing chief of staff to Mr. Watson, who was mayor at the time of the protest in January and February 2022.

The convoy protest began in mid-January 2022 in response to COVID-19 vaccine mandates imposed by the federal government on truckers crossing the Canada-U.S. border. Over the course of three weeks, hundreds of vehicles converged in downtown Ottawa demanding an end to mandates and general COVID-19 public health restrictions.

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