WARNING: This story contains details some may find offensive or upsetting
Proceedings in a Kelowna courtroom moved slowly this week as the trial of a prolific COVID mandate protester continued.
Self proclaimed “freedom fighter,” Bruce Orydzuk is representing himself against one charge of causing a disturbance, stemming from a July 13, 2021, incident involving a security guard outside an Interior Health COVID-19 vaccination centre in Kelowna.
The incident was filmed by a local journalist and published online along with an article with a headline referring to the situation as a “racist tirade”.
Former InfoTel reporter Carli Berry had been at the vaccination site to write a story on COVID-19 vaccines when Orydzuk began speaking to her. Orydzuk has stated that his intention on the day of the incident was to tell the public about his beliefs and distrust of the media and government and the risks of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Berry was standing on the property of the facility when Orydzuk began speaking to her, saying that she had been publishing lies while using an elevated tone of voice.
A Paladin security guard named Anmol Singh, who had been contracted by Interior Health to protect the property of the vaccination site, walked up and intervened.
While on the stand as a witness, Singh said that he intervened with the intention of “de-escalating” the situation.
Berry filmed and published the interaction between Orydzuk and Singh.
After the incident, Berry called 911 and filed a police report before writing an article and publishing the video that she had taken.
The former journalist would be called as a witness in Orydzuk’s trial and at that time, Berry said that she began filming out of fear, adding that she had previously received messages from Orydzuk on Facebook and had blocked him.
The video taken by Berry and another shot by Ordzyuk of the same incident were shown to the court as evidence.
In the videos, Orydzuk is seen speaking with Singh, who is a Sikh man from India and is wearing a turban. In the video, Orydzuk can be heard saying “you are disgusting, go back to your country, you are not Canadian, we don’t want you here,” in a loud voice.
Singh can be heard asking Ordzyuk to stay away, saying that Berry, and all people on the vaccination site, were under his protection.
During cross-examination, Ordzyuk asked Singh why he “interrupted” the conversation with Berry.
“I stepped in when I thought the conversation was heating up,” said Singh.
He explained that Berry’s body language led him to believe that she was uncomfortable and scared. Singh said that he was trying to help her and avoid escalation of the situation.
While conducting cross-examination, Ordzyuk repeatedly said that he did not want to speak with Singh on the day of the incident, adding that he did not like being “interrupted.” He asked Singh if he was truly trying to de-escalate the conversation, “why did you not shut up when I told you to?”
Before Singh could answer, Crown counsel stood up and objected to the question.
Over the two days of cross-examination, Singh was asked to leave the courtroom multiple times for Crown counsel, the judge and Ordzyuk to discuss a line of questioning and its permissibly in court.
The judge is expected to make a decision at the end of this week on the narrow issue of whether Ordzyuk is guilty of causing a disturbance.
In Canada, it is considered an offence to disturb the peace of a public place by using insulting or obscene language and shouting.
Ordzyuk alleged that the incident did not cause a disturbance as no other people were nearby during his exchange with Singh, referencing the fact that no other people are visible in the videos shown as evidence.
Nurses who were working at the vaccination clinic on the day of the incident claim to have witnessed the altercation.
One nurse took the stand as a witness earlier in the trial and said that she was able to hear Ordzyuk’s raised voice from the nearby picnic table where the clinic staff took their breaks.
The nurse also said that she took detailed notes of Orydzuk’s behaviour throughout the day of the incident and had handed them over to police, adding that he had certainly disturbed other employees and patrons of the vaccination clinic.