'I'm sorry, God': Accused cried when Coutts border blockade abandoned

Jurors watch video of police interview with Anthony Olienick

A truck convoy of anti-COVID-19 vaccine mandate demonstrators block the highway at the busy U.S. border crossing in Coutts, Alta., Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022. A police phone expert is to continue testifying today at the trial for two men charged with conspiracy to commit murder at the border blockade at Coutts, Alta. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Anthony Olienick, sitting alone in an empty police interrogation room, breaks down in tears when he learns the COVID-19 protest blockade at Coutts, Alta., has disbanded, in part because of his arrest.

"I'm sorry, God," Olienick says to the four walls, in a video played for jurors Wednesday at his murder-conspiracy trial.

In the 2022 video, Olienick tells police he and others formed the blockade at the busy Canada-U.S. border crossing to take a stand against a takeover of Canadian freedoms by tyrants, including United Nations troops and Chinese communists.

"We're just trying to be protectors. That's all," says Olienick.

"We've seen it all over the world — governments do bad things."

Olienick and fellow protester Chris Carbert are on trial in Lethbridge, Alta., charged with conspiring to kill Mounties at the blockade.

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

In the video, Olienick tells police there was no plan to attack, and the guns were only for defence.

"We're just protecting the flock. That's all I wanted," he says.

"We're the sheepdogs in case of something going bad."

Olienick rejects the allegation he would threaten officers, but qualifies it by saying, "unless you guys are shooting at us first."

"But it wouldn't be you guys," he adds. "It would be UN guys or Chinese."

Earlier in the interview, Olienick expresses concern about Canada being taken over by a communist regime.

The blockade tied up traffic at the Coutts border crossing for two weeks, part of a nationwide backlash against pandemic restrictions and vaccine mandates seen as unnecessary and punitive.

The blockade ended when convoy leader Marco Van Huigenbos announced that because of the arrests and gun seizures the blockade would wrap up immediately and peacefully.

When police convey this to Olienick in the video, he appears devastated.

"I am so heartbroken. That was never our intention," he says. "That's not the outcome that we wanted."

"I want to defend myself against some tyranny, and that's it.

"I'm not going to be the first guy who's going to do it. I'm going to be the guy that's going to end it if it happens."

Undercover officers have testified Olienick told them police were pawns of the federal government and that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was the devil. Police should be hanged, he said, and if officers raided the blockade he would "slit their throats."

He also characterized to the undercover agents that the blockade represented the fight and mission of his life.

In the video, Olienick reacts when he's told some of the evidence against him came from undercover officers.

"Oh my goodness," he says.

The officer in the interrogation room pushes Olienick about the alleged threats against police.

"Was there any conversation where you might have been fired up or anything like that or this might have been misconstrued?" the officer asks.

"If it was talking at the time about politicians or something like that and some generic thing," Olienick replies.

"Anything specific though?" the officer says. "Anything like, 'I'm going to kill cops?"'

"Not that I would outright say," Olienick says.

Court of King's Bench Justice David Labrenz reminded the jurors they shouldn't draw conclusions from Olienick's views in the interview.

"Nobody is charged or found guilty of a criminal offence for being of a character that you don't agree with or having a disposition you don't agree with," the judge said.

Olienick and Carbert are also charged with mischief and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose. Olienick faces a further charge of being in possession of a pipe bomb.

The defence has suggested one undercover officer broke legal and ethical rules by flirting with Olienick to gain information, as text messages between her and Olienick featured heart emojis.

The officer rejected the flirting allegation. The hearts, said the officer, indicated she liked the comments, not the person.