Canadian politician charged for organizing anti-lockdown protest, faces jail time
TORONTO, November 27, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Ontario Independent Member of Provincial Parliament Randy Hillier was charged yesterday for organizing and attending an anti-lockdown protest outside the provincial legislature that was attended by an estimated 700 people.
Hillier was charged under the Reopening Ontario Act and is scheduled to appear in court January 7, 2021, reported Global News.
The penalty for a conviction runs from a minimum $10,000 fine to a maximum $100,000 fine and a year in jail.
His “No More Lockdowns” protest contravened Premier Doug Ford’s latest order classifying Toronto and the surrounding Peel region as of Monday as grey zones, which have the most severe restrictions of the province’s five zones.
These include limiting outdoor organized public events or social gatherings to a maximum of 10 people.
Hillier, MPP for the rural southeast riding of Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston, told Global that he is looking to challenging the constitutionality of Ontario’s COVID-19 restrictions in court.
Conservative pundit Andrew Lawton pointed out on Twitter the dangerous implications of Hillier being charged:
Just to put this into perspective, Canadians now live in a country in which a sitting opposition politician was charged for dissenting with the government. https://t.co/cDjqK1mwk1— Andrew Lawton (@AndrewLawton) November 26, 2020
No More Lockdowns, the movement Hillier is spearheading, also blasted the Ontario government on Twitter in the wake of the MPP’s citation:
@JustinTrudeau is protected by police when demonstrating in front of Parliament but @randyhillier gets charged. For you see, all politicians are equal before the law, but some are more equal than others. Get it?— NoMoreLockdowns (@NoLockdowns1) November 27, 2020
Join and help us now at https://t.co/mD2oxcC1QZ #cdnpoli #onpoli pic.twitter.com/WUR7gIaWm7
Hillier, a famously outspoken Independent MPP who was permanently kicked out of the Progressive Conservative caucus in March 2019, allegedly over his differences with two of Ford’s senior advisors at the time, has been excoriating the Ford government for months for its coronavirus response.
He also voiced support during Thursday’s rally for 33-year-old Adam Skelly, who was arrested the same day outside his Etobicoke restaurant Adamson BBQ in violation of the latest order, following what one local media outlet described as a “dramatic standoff with police.”
A father of two young children, Skelly faces 13 criminal and non-criminal charges, including trespassing, intent to obstruct police, violating indoor dining rules, holding an illegal gathering and operating a business without a license, the CBC reported.
Police officers and municipal officials arrived at Adamson BBQ early Thursday morning and changed the locks, and the city has now completely seized the building, according to CTV News, while Skelly’s supporters, who later congregated outside Ford’s house to protest the arrest, are collectively being dubbed “BBQAnon,” BlogTO reported.
Hillier exhorted those attending the No More Lockdown rally outside Queen’s Park to support Skelly, and other small businesses to follow his lead.
“But know this … There [are] going to be more Adams. We have to encourage more Adams to be out there. We have to tell them, open up your business, we will stand with you!” Hillier said to cheers from the exuberant crowd, who throughout the three-long hour rally intermittently banged pots and pans, and broke into chants of “No more lockdowns!” and “Freedom! Freedom!”
However, small business owners need more support in order to take that step, according to beauty salon owner Lia Juhas.
She opened her salon, ReLash Pro, three months before the first lockdown, which resulted in a five-month closure, and is now on the verge of bankruptcy, as are “many, many businesses,” Juhas told LifeSiteNews.
“I’ve poured all my savings, everything I had into my business,” and government emergency funding is not enough, she said. “The bills are still coming in and no income is coming in.”
Juhas said she would consider violating the order in the event that her friend’s salon in nearby Vaughan, which she is working out of now, is also classified as a grey zone.
“We’re both of us single moms. Both of us have only one income, and two kids, and we don’t want to close down,” she told LifeSiteNews.
“I just want more people behind me to help me obviously. It’s not easy. I really look up to Adam’s BBQ,” added Juhas. “I need courage. I need enough people’s support.”
Andjela Janosevic, who also owns a beauty business, echoed this.
Her business has been shut down under the new restrictions, she told LifeSiteNews.
“We as people deserve to know and to live and work in freedom and fight for our families,” she said.
“We do understand that the virus is absolutely real …but the rules and guidelines… they just do not make sense,” added Janosevic.
When asked what she would say to the premier if he walked by, Janosevic was quick to answer.
“Honestly, what I would say to Doug Ford is, you’re not for the people,” she said. “You are absolutely not for the people, not for our families, not for our businesses. The rules don’t make sense at all, whatsoever.”
Her business “takes precautions, we invested in the PPE, we disinfect after every single client,” she added. “But what about when I go to Costco, when there’s 50 people in front of me, and 50 people behind me breathing down my neck?”
Hillier also took aim at big business, telling the crowd the Ford government allowed Hudson’s Bay to stay open when the corporation pushed back against the latest lockdown.
“Doug Ford is listening to big business, and they won’t hurt big business, but they’ll kill the small business,” he said. “We just can’t let that happen.”
When the pandemic was first declared in March, a lot of people had similar concerns to his, but were afraid to speak out, but that is changing, Hillier said.
Now, increasing numbers of people are pushing back and questioning why governments are still enforcing lockdowns that have been shown to have devastating economic, social and physical consequences, in an unjustified and essentially impossible attempt to eradicate a virus which evidence now shows is far less lethal than originally thought.
“A lot of people don’t realize just how dangerous this path is, because none of us, and especially those people in there,” said Hillier, pointing to the legislature, “they don’t know how to get off this path.”
And one reason is “because they’ve lied to us … Instead of being honest and saying we made a mistake … they said, ‘What other lie can we do to cover up the first lie?’,” he added.
“We’re on a dishonest path, and it’s taking us to a really, really bad place,” Hillier declared.
“We have to get off that path now, and we have to encourage our friends, our families, and everybody else, to get off that dishonest path that this government is taking us down.”
Also speaking at the protest were Lisa Bildy, a lawyer for the Justice Center for Constitutional Freedoms; Don Welsh, University of Waterloo professor of physiology and pharmacology; Simone Jennifer Smith of Toronto Caribbean News, and Pastor Jacob Reaume of Trinity Bible Chapel in Waterloo.
Cambridge Independent MPP Belinda Karahalios, who was turfed from the Ford caucus in July for voting against Bill 195, which gave the government power to extend the state of emergency for two years without consulting the legislature, was also present at the rally.
Premier Doug Ford
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