Civil liberties advocates criticize Toronto for sending police bill to Adamson BBQ
The general consensus about the $187,000 bill that Adamson BBQ proprietor Adam Skelly famously received this week for police presence necessitated at his Etobicoke restaurant when he reopened it to the public against provincial lockdown orders in November seemed to be, at first, that he totally deserved it.
But, some civil liberties advocates — namely, Cara Zwibel, lawyer and director of the fundamental freedoms program at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association— are now questioning the invoice from the Toronto Board of Health, which Skelly shared to Instagram on Saturday now that he's allowed back on social media.
Poor BBQ Dude Bro. Police ain’t cheap 😬 pic.twitter.com/i73b0DhnQs— Caryma Sa'd - Lawyer (@CarymaRules) February 20, 2021
"This is what police do, they enforce the law and keep the peace, that's the cost of doing business as a municipality," Zwibel told the Canadian Press on Tuesday, adding that she's concerned that the city "is not treating this [instance] as part of their normal operations."
Some on social media are now agreeing, saying that fining Skelly for his noncompliance with the Reopening Ontario Act is one thing, but charging him for police presence that the City decided to send to the scene is another, and is not typical for other crimes in the city.
There is also the opinion that the police presence over multiple days, which included officers on horseback, was excessive for the situation.
Yes, I think this is a dangerous precedent. (Personally I’ve never seen anything like this in my practice, so there may be other precedents I’m not aware of)— Caryma Sa'd - Lawyer (@CarymaRules) February 20, 2021
Though Canadians have the freedom to express themselves and peacefully assemble for a cause, Skelly deliberately and brashly contravened the lockdown rules the rest of the population was forced to abide by for multiple days in a row in order to prove a point.
His property also became a bit of a home base for anti-mask protestors of all stripes, which upped the drama on the scene by Skelly's third day of illicit opening.
As Toronto Mayor John Tory told CP24 this morning, "here was a man that not only flouted the law, but incited all kinds of people to come out and have unruly crowd scenes that were exactly the kind of thing we were trying to avoid in stopping in the spread of the virus."
"That resulted in us having to have a lot of police on the scene just to keep order with something that he helped to create, and so I think it's perfectly appropriate that he should get a bill."
Facts. He operates without a business license. He has a history and a reputation for this kind of behaviour. He broke the law. While thousands of other businesses did the right thing. He chose to do the wrong. Bill isn’t high enough.— Trinity Bellwoods Flea Market (@TBFleaMarket) February 24, 2021
If forced to pay the bill, Skelly can always dip into the nearly $340,000 that was crowdfunded for him after his arrest.
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