ontario haircut protest

Ontario cottage country mayors got haircuts to protest being held back from Stage 2

The mayors of two small, rural communities located about an hour-and-a-half southwest of Toronto are making headlines this week for publicly getting haircuts in defiance of provincial emergency orders.

Haldimand County mayor Ken Hewitt and Norfolk County Mayor Kristal Chopp summoned reporters to the lawn of Norfolk Town Hall on Tuesday to witness a "protest" in which they both got trims from hairstylists.

Under Stage 2 of the province's reopening plan, haircuts won't be permitted until Friday — and even then, Haldimand-Norfolk region is one of 10 Ontario public health regions that must remain in Stage 1 until further notice on account of its COVID-19 numbers.

Chopp and Hewitt issued a joint statement on Monday to express their disappointment in not being allowed to enter Stage 2, with the former calling the Ontario government's decision "completely unacceptable."

"I'm incredibly frustrated that the provincial government — without consultation and for reasons that remain unclear — made this decision," said Chopp to the Hamilton Spectator, despite the fact that Ontario's health minister did provide a reason when announcing the regional reopening process: several recent outbreaks in the Haldimand-Norfolk area.

The haircut stunt alone rubbed some local citizens the wrong way, but many more in Ontario scoffed to learn that these mayors defying the law with their haircuts were the very same leaders who, last month, were telling people to stay away from their own cottages under threat of steep fines.

"It wasn't longer than two to three weeks ago that we had the two mayors from there on TV, shouting and screaming, saying they're going to fine any cottager that comes up," said Ford when asked about the mayors and their behaviour during his daily press conference Tuesday afternoon.

"And all of the sudden, bingo, they're out there getting a haircut saying they want everyone to come up? I get it, things change, I get it," said Ford. "They had a massive spike… when you have a massive spike in the area, we have to do the responsible thing."

"You can't be telling everyone to stay away, we're going to fine you if you go to the cottage that you pay taxes for, and then a couple weeks later sitting there getting a haricut and going against the protocol," continued the premier. "Give me a break, like really."

Ford went on to call Chopp and Hewitt the two "most outspoken" of all 444 mayors across the province and said that, based on how they were behaving ahead of the May 24 weekend, they were the last people he'd have expected to engage in such a defiant act — especially with their own COVID-19 numbers rising due to outbreaks on farms and in long-term care homes.

"They're really getting out there, voicing their opinion and that's fine, god bless them," said Ford. "But all of the sudden to do a 180 in a couple weeks as your numbers are going up in your area? It would be totally irresponsible for us to say 'okay, open it up.'"

"You can't have your cake and eat it too." 

Lead photo by

J.P. Antonacci

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