July 15th, 2024

Court hears accused in Coutts blockade thought protest could lead to war

By The Canadian Press on July 2, 2024.

An RCMP helicopter flies over as a truck convoy of anti-COVID-19 vaccine mandate demonstrators block the highway at the busy U.S. border crossing in Coutts, Alta., Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022. One of two men accused of conspiring to kill Mounties at the 2022 Coutts border blockade told his mother there "will be a war" should violence break out. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. – One of two men accused of conspiring to kill Mounties at the 2022 Coutts border blockade characterized the protest as a last stand and told his mother there “will be a war” if police moved in.

“Mom, I am fine. If they start the violence, I am just telling you there will be war and casualties of war,” read one of the text messages relayed in court Tuesday from Chris Carbert’s phone.

“The sooner you wake up to what’s happening the sooner you’ll understand why I have to do what I have to do.”

Carbert and Anthony Olienick are on trial charged with conspiring to commit murder at the blockade, which tied up traffic for two weeks at the busy U.S.-Alberta border point at Coutts in 2022 to protest COVID restrictions and vaccine mandates.

Court heard Carbert was determined to see the protest through and that there was no going back.

“Mom I won’t be home until laws are passed and the government is toppled,” he texted her.

She replied, “I thought maybe you would go home for a couple days, then go back.”

Carbert wrote back: “I don’t think you truly understand what this is for and about. If we lose here, I will likely die in war.”

Around the same Carbert was texting his mother, he received a message from someone else telling him to stay calm and that the protest was not worth a criminal record or jail time. The person reminded him he has a son.

Images of guns from Carbert’s phone were also shown Tuesday, with some of the weapons on a couch or bed.

Last week, court heard text messages from others at the blockade that painted a similar picture of rage and determination against any who sought to dismantle the blockade.

One of the messages characterized the blockade as “our last stand,” while another promised to leave only in “a body bag.”

After police made arrests and seized weapons near the protest site, the remaining protesters left Coutts peacefully and immediately.

Carbert and Olienick are also charged with mischief and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose. Olienick faces a further charge of possessing a pipe bomb.

The Crown has presented witness and physical evidence to argue that Olienick and Carbert were conspiring to kill police at the blockade.

They seized weapons, body armour and ammunition in trailers near the blockade.

Jurors have heard police found assault-style rifles, a shotgun, a pistol – and a firearms licence in Carbert’s name.

They later located at Olienick’s home more weapons, buckets of ammunition and two pipe bombs.

The Crown has also presented eyewitness testimony from undercover officers.

The officers, posing as volunteers at the blockade, told court that Olienick said he believed Mounties were the tools of “devil” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and deserved to be hanged. He said if police raided the blockade he would “slit their throats.”

In a police interrogation video shown to the jury, Olienick denied targeting police but said he feared an invasion by United Nations troops or Chinese communists.

He characterized himself and others as “sheepdogs” protecting “the flock” from tyrannical invaders.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 2, 2024.

— By Jeremy Simes in Regina

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