Trespassing charge against Toronto lawyer arrested at Ford rally dropped in Hamilton


Hamilton city prosecutors have dropped trespassing charges against Caryma Sa’d, the Toronto lawyer who was arrested near an Ontario Progressive Conservative campaign stop in Hamilton in May.

« I feel a little vindicated, » Sa’d told CBC Hamilton on Tuesday morning.

The charges related to a Ford rally at the Hamilton airport on May 26.

Sa’d said she had RSVP to attend the event. She is known for creating cartoons and videos that criticize politicians and people protesting against public health measures.

Sa’d said she was not there as a protester but as a political commentator. She said someone from Ford’s team asked her to leave and called the police when she refused.

« You are not invited to this event…we know you are not here for the good intentions, » one person speaking to Sa’d said in a video she posted to Twitter. The person appeared to be wearing an in-ear headset, but their affiliation was unclear.

Hamilton police previously said Sa’d had not left despite multiple opportunities, leading to an officer arresting him for trespassing – failing to leave the premises when asked.

Sa’d said she was taken off the property before being released and given a $65 ticket.

The airport told CBC Hamilton it was the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) who approached them and asked the airport to have officers enforce the Trespass to Property Act (TPA) « to evict the protesters from his property ».

The OPP said the officers were just doing their job and enforcing the TPA, which says police must act on anything the airport defines as prohibited activity. In this case, says the OPP, it was the airport that declared protests prohibited.

Meanwhile, Hamilton Police, the department responsible for the arrest of attorney Sa’d on behalf of the OPP, previously would not respond to questions about the situation in addition to saying officers were enforcing the TPA.

The arrest had ‘alarmed’ groups such as the Criminal Lawyers’ Association and raised questions about whether Hamilton officers were acting on orders issued by Premier Doug Ford’s security, if Sa’ d under the Charter had been violated and what influence the PC party might have had.

‘No reasonable likelihood of conviction’

Prosecutor Sean Ramage said on Tuesday there was a request to drop the charge because there was « no reasonable prospect of conviction ».

James Bowie, the Ottawa-based attorney representing Sa’d, said someone must have decided Sa’d was a trespasser, but it’s unclear who it was.

He added that the arresting officer’s notes do not reveal who made the decision.

A video shared by Caryma Sa’d appears to show her being arrested outside a rally for PC leader Doug Ford in Hamilton on May 26. (Caryma Sa’d/Twitter)

Bowie said his request for disclosure « included a request to the legal occupier, the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, to find out who made the decision to fire Ms. Sa’d. » He also asked if Ford was the one who made the call, he said.

« Our request has never been answered. The Premier of Ontario refuses to say whether it was he who accused Ms. Sa’d of this intrusion or not… Caryma Sa’d never knew who is his accuser. »

CBC Hamilton has contacted the provincial government and Hamilton police for comment.

« I don’t know if the story is completely over »

Sa’d said there are still « a lot of unanswered questions » and feels she was arrested for political dissent.

She said the Ford government’s failure to respond to her attorney’s request is « disappointing. »

« The head of the province should be accessible to his constituents, » she said.

« I don’t know if the story is quite over. »

Sa’d said she is working to determine other legal options, such as discussing whether her Charter rights have been violated.


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