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'Just protesting': Accused at Coutts blockade surprised by murder-conspiracy charge

Anti-mandate protesters gather as a truck convoy blocks the highway at the busy U.S. border crossing in Coutts, Alta., on Jan. 31, 2022. Anti-mandate protesters gather as a truck convoy blocks the highway at the busy U.S. border crossing in Coutts, Alta., on Jan. 31, 2022.
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A protester arrested at the border blockade at Coutts, Alta., acted surprised when police told him he was being charged with conspiracy to commit murder.

Anthony Olienick also said he didn't threaten to kill anyone.

About three hours of the video statement he gave to police after his arrest on Feb. 14, 2022, was played at his jury trial Monday.

In the video, the officer tells Olienick that he's being charged with mischief over $5,000, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, obstruction of critical infrastructure and conspiracy to commit murder.

"Conspiracy to commit murder ... it just means that you, along with at least one other person, had planned murders of the RCMP," says Cpl. Andrew Olfert.

"No way," Olienick replies.

"Tell me what that means to you," the officer said.

"I don't know. It seems really bizarre -- just protesting for freedom to parking trucks," Olienick says.

Olienick and a co-accused, Chris Carbert, are both on trial charged with conspiring to kill Mounties at the blockade, which paralyzed traffic for two weeks at the busy Canada-U.S. border crossing.

The blockade was one of several protests held across the country over COVID-19 rules and vaccine mandates.

The men were arrested after RCMP found a cache of guns, body armour and ammunition in trailers at Coutts.

Undercover officers previously testified that Olienick considered the blockade a war, and he expressed a hatred of police and a desire to kill officers.

Later in the video, Olienick blames the federal government for twisting the blockade out of proportion.

"I think a lot of the words get put into people's mouths. The government wants to make all of this peacefulness look evil," Olienick says.

"There wasn't a single act of any violence there. I don't think we're the fringe minority. That's for sure."

Olfert asks Olienick if there's any reason why investigators would charge him with conspiracy to commit murder.

"I didn't threaten anybody face-to-face, you know what I mean?" Olienick says.

"I don't know anybody that I would purposely say that to. I don't like (Prime Minister Justin) Trudeau. I'd like to see him hang. He needs to be tried for treason ... and if proven guilty, like we know he is, hang him."

Olienick says in the video that there's lots of angry talk at the blockade about Trudeau and the federal Liberal government.

"Everybody's having those conversations," Olienick says.

"Maybe about killing the RCMP?" Olfert asks.

"No. Not the RCMP, because it's not you guys. It's the facilitators that are puppet-mastering you guys. That's why we need you guys to stand with us. It's as simple as that."

Justice David Labrenz told jurors they shouldn't read too much into the views expressed by the accused when considering the video as evidence.

"Neither accused is on trial for their belief systems or their ideas about the world or their views with respect to world order. They're only on trial with respect to the charges on the indictment," said the judge.

In the video, Olienick tells the officer that he wants to continue the fight.

"I wish I was still there. I need freedom."

The trial is set to resume Wednesday.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published on June 24, 2024.

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