A Canadian legal advocacy group is celebrating their success at having charges dropped against a convoy protester.
The Justice Centre has announced the charges against Dana-Lee Melfi, popularly known as 'Peace Man,' were withdrawn on January 23, 2024.
Melfi was in the nation’s capital during the Freedom Convoy protest, was arrested on February 19 2022, during the police crackdown on protestors following the invocation of the War Measures (Emergencies) Act five days prior. He was charged with mischief, mischief to property, disobeying a lawful order and obstructing justice.
Peace Man was conspicuous in the crowd with his striking appearance. His flowing, grey hair and beard, sunglasses and cameras drew significant media attention.
Each day he would take up a peaceful stance near Parliament Hill, either draped in or carrying a large Canadian flag, to greet passersby with the two-fingered peace sign. He brought no vehicle and blocked no roads. He had said in various media interviews, with outlets such as Canadian Press, New York Times, Washington Post, Epoch Times and many independent media, that he was in the nation’s capital to encourage dialogue between the government and protestors.
Melfi's trial was scheduled for the week of January 22, 2024. Just days prior to the trial, a large number of social media videos were disclosed by the Crown as evidence against Melfi, whose lawyer Monick Grenier notified the Crown she was contemplating filing a Late Disclosure Application if she was not successful in having the evidence excluded.
Grenier was prepared to appeal to Section 24(2) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which requires courts to exclude evidence from a trial if it can be established that its admission would bring the administration of justice into disrepute. She also raised the possibility of filing a Jordan Application, which protects Canadians from unreasonable trial delays.
Adding to this complexity, the parties were advised the week before the trial that the court was double booked. Melfi would not have been at fault for either potential delay. In 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that trials must be heard within 18 months of charges being laid in accordance with the Charter section 11(b) right of Canadians “to be tried within a reasonable time.”
What is commonly referred to as the Freedom Convoy protest has since been recognized in another court proceeding as a combination of as many as 13 different protests. Melfi always considered himself to be carrying out his own personal protest.
Monick Grenier, counsel for Melfi, stated, "My client stood in peace throughout the protest. After his arrest, Mr. Melfi was set to advance breaches of his rights under sections 8, 9 and 10 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We are pleased with this outcome."
Sections 7 to 9 of the Charter read as follows.
7 Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.
8 Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.
9 Everyone has the right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned.
In a four-minute video below, posted January 29 Melfi discusses his case and recent resolution.