Freedom Convoy-affiliated group’s deal to buy church appears to be off

The ongoing purchase of a historic Ottawa church to become an “embassy” for a group affiliated with the Freedom Convoy has failed, according to documents obtained by CTV News.

St. Brigid’s Church was conditionally sold to a group called The United People of Canada on June 15, but as of August 12, property listing documents show the property has been listed as ‘back on the market “.

The documents did not indicate what potential unmet conditions could have caused the deal to fall through.

When contacted by CTV News, United People of Canada director William Komer said he understood the deal was still in place.

“No deal has fallen to our knowledge and view,” said Komer, who added that the property owner had not informed him of any changes to the sale.

CTV News has contacted both the property owner and the listing agent, but neither has commented on the status of the property.

The church, located 1.3 kilometers from Parliament Hill, had been on the market since July 2021 before the conditional sale and had a price tag of $5.95 million.

While attempting to meet the church’s terms of purchase, the united people of Canada had leased the space. A bailiff on Wednesday tried unsuccessfully to evict the group from the church after they alleged they had failed to pay rent.

On Thursday, a “Tenant Termination Notice” was posted on the front door of the church stating that the group’s lease had been terminated due to $10,000 in unpaid rent and “failure to provide proof of liability insurance of at least $5 million”. A second notice posted on the door said the group had violated the Ontario Heritage Act and failed to obtain the necessary permits for construction under the Ontario Building Code Act.

Komer said in a Facebook post that the eviction notice was “unlawful.”

“As you can see from the actions of the owners, they seem to want to stop doing business with us,” Komer said.

One of the group’s biggest backers, Tony Cuzzocrea, an investment adviser based in London, Ont., told CTV News it was a “lie” that the united people of Canada didn’t pay their rent on time.

“We have proof that we paid every money because it was due at some point,” Cuzzocrea said.

Komer told CTV News in June that the group planned to turn the church into an “embassy” that would serve as a community space.

“I’m just looking to create a unique and inclusive space where people of all backgrounds and beliefs are welcome to engage in dialogue, participate in co-working, access a community cafe, meeting space and we host some number of community conversations,” says Komer.

United People of Canada director Kimberley Ward has admitted to being an adviser to Dwayne Lich, the partner of “Freedom Convoy” organizer Tamara Lich. Ward was also outside the Ottawa courthouse on March 7 to celebrate Tamara Lich’s first bail, but despite this the group denies any connection to the occupation.

The ties to the Lich family and the group’s presence at the church had been of concern to community groups.

“We are concerned about their ties to the community, their objectives and the establishment of the head office of this organization in our community,” said Sylvie Bigras of the Lowertown Community Association.

With files from Jeremie Charron of CTV News, Josh Pringle and Andrew Pinsent of Newstalk 580 CFRA