Charges of assault and mischief laid following an altercation at a 2022 Freedom Convoy rally have been dropped against a former Innisfail town councillor.
Crown prosecutor Alan Hogg withdrew the charges in Red Deer provincial court on Tuesday, the day set for a trial on the charges laid after the Feb. 3 incident in Sylvan Lake that happened as a convoy in protest of vaccine mandates passed through Sylvan Lake. Hogg provided no explanation to Judge Bert Skinner as to why the charges were withdrawn.
RCMP were monitoring the convoy that had started out from Eckville earlier in the day. As the convoy passed through Sylvan Lake, RCMP said a pickup pulled out in front of the line of vehicles blocking them.
RCMP alleged that Carritt, who was in the lead vehicle, got out and there was an altercation with the pickup driver.
Carritt was charged, as was the other driver, who was charged with failing to yield to a pedestrian.
Carritt said outside court that “freedom has prevailed”.
“The charges were absolutely ridiculous. We were on a peaceful protest and our vehicle was actually assaulted, as well as a pedestrian, but I ended up with the charges.
“We need to stop the division in this country and we need to continue moving forward for freedom. Our freedom of speech is being jeopardized and that’s our biggest freedom,” said Carritt.
“We need to continue to speak out and we need to have the ability to continue to speak out and we all need to continue to fight that fight.”
Carritt ran unsuccessfully for mayor in Innisfail in fall 2019. In January 2022 he became leader of the new Alberta Statehood Party, which wants to unite with the U.S. and become its 51st state.
In a response to a request for comment, an Alberta Justice spokesperson said “a key duty of a Crown prosecutor is to assess cases on an ongoing basis and to ensure all aspects of the evidence are carefully considered at all stages of a prosecution.
“Evidence is evaluated in light of the prosecution standard that the matter is in the public interest and that there be a ‘reasonable likelihood of conviction,’” said Ethan Lecavalier-Kidney, press secretary for Justice Minister Tyler Shandro.
“If the Crown prosecutor becomes aware that there is insufficient evidence to proceed, the charges may be stayed, withdrawn, or downgraded.”
Defence lawyer Maurice Collard said “freedom and sanity have prevailed today.
“Mr. Carritt was protesting and standing up for civil liberties and bodily autonomy. These charges from the very beginning were nonsense.
“We intended to aggressively defend against them and we’re glad that we have seen the result we have today.”
Collard said some “hard questions need to be asked” about why Carritt was charged but other counter protesters were not charged.