Photo: Nicholas Johansen
A truck outside the Kelowna courthouse during the first week of David Lindsay's trial in March 2023.
David Lindsay was convicted of two counts of assault Wednesday morning and now faces possible prison time.
After several days of trial for much of this year, Judge Cathaline Heinrichs sentenced Lindsay on Wednesday for the August 19, 2021 assaults on two security guards during a protest in front of the Saúde Interior building in the city center on Avenida Doyle.
Lindsay was one of the main people behind the weekly COVID-19 protests that took place for years in Kelowna's Stuart Park. More than 30 of her supporters packed the Kelowna courtroom Wednesday morning.
Lindsay has represented herself during the criminal proceedings. But after many months trying out his unusual legal arguments, including arguing that Canada's RCMP Act is unconstitutional, he was unsuccessful Wednesday.
He even asked for a mistrial, saying that Judge Heinrichs did not help him enough during the trial and showed bias against him, but the judge categorically refused.
“I am not Mr. Lindsay’s lawyer and cannot offer him legal advice. This is clear from the self-represented criminal model… that we analyzed in court on the first day of the trial,” said Judge Heinrichs.
“Mr. Lindsay has had plenty of time since August 19, 2021 and the start of the trial to obtain legal advice.”
Judge Heinrichs laid out the key issues to be determined in the assault matter: Did Lindsay intentionally apply force to the security guards without their consent?
Relying largely on a video of the incident taken by Lindsay supporter Leo Beauregard, Judge Heinrichs said Lindsay announced to the guards “I have the right of access”, before lowering her head and coming face to face with the two guards. who were blocking the door. Interior Health had previously banned Lindsay from entering the building.
Two police officers told Lindsay that day that he would be arrested if he tried to enter the building.
Photo: Rob Gibson
While no one was injured in the minor contact Lindsay made with the guards, Judge Heinrichs said there was a broader context that must be taken into consideration.
“In the context of a protest where police were present to maintain peace and order, Mr Lindsay’s behavior created a risk to the public interest,” she said. “Groups of people protesting can be unpredictable; Mr. Lindsay’s act may have been the catalyst to cause more violent behavior toward law enforcement and the public who were present that day.”
In addition to the conviction on the assault charges, Judge Heinrichs also found him in contempt of court for telling her in June that he refused to provide written closing arguments within her deadline. During the argument on June 16, he told the judge three times that he would not follow her instructions.
“I'm not doing that, I'm telling you now. If you want to cite me for contempt or something like that, that's up to you, but I'm not going to do that,” Lindsay told the judge.
Lindsay finally made her closing arguments “shortly before the hearing,” Judge Heinrichs said. She noted that Lindsay's reason for not wanting to present his closing arguments, because he didn't want to “reveal his defense,” didn't make sense.
“The closing argument is exactly when he needs to present his defense, that’s what written arguments are supposed to be for,” Judge Heinrichs said.
After his conclusion, the judge gave Lindsay the opportunity to “purge the contempt” by providing a written apology for his behavior, without the “justifications or excuses” he offered in his remarks on the issue of contempt.
Lindsay told Judge Heinrichs that she would write an “unconditional apology” in an attempt to expunge the contempt, but it would be up to the judge to decide whether she accepts the apology.
Crown prosecutor Grabavac said he was willing to proceed with sentencing on Wednesday, adding he would seek a prison sentence followed by probation in the matter. When he noted that the maximum penalty in the case is two years in prison, an audible murmur could be heard among Lindsay's supporters.
Lindsay was not prepared to proceed with sentencing, and a sentencing date is expected to be set for January.
Judge Heinrichs also rejected several of Lindsay's requests in the matter. In one, he argued that the entire RCMP Act and the BC Policing Act are unconstitutional and that the officers' investigation into the assaults is not valid.
He also requested that Crown prosecutor David Grabavac be held in contempt of court for repeated lies and misrepresentations. Judge Heinrichs rejected both requests, calling the constitutional argument “manifestly frivolous” and saying there was no basis for a contempt allegation against Grabavac.
Lindsay has a long history of her creative legal theories going nowhere. On a 2007 BC Court of Appeal ruling that labeled him a “vexatious litigant,” the court said that “almost all of the requests that Mr. Lindsay made on his own behalf were without any merit and were therefore considered by the courts that considered them.”
As he sold his pseudolegal theories about avoiding taxes for many years, before moving on to protest government measures against COVID-19, he appears to have found a new target. Most recently, he organized a protest in Stuart Park against Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity educational resources in BC schools, where he met with a large group of counter-protesters.
“It’s a really sad day when there are queers demonstrating,” Lindsay told the crowd through a microphone, as counter-protesters chanted and chanted behind him. “You know, every society that allowed queers to take control destroyed itself from within. And if it continues, Canada will destroy itself.”