adamson bbq toronto

Adamson BBQ owner Adam Skelly mounts constitutional challenge against Ontario

The owner of a Toronto restaurant chain long known for its Texas-style barbecued food and, more recently, as a gathering spot for anti-lockdown protesters, has filed a constitutional challenge in response to the closure order he recieved late last year under the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA).

Adam Skelly, who owns Adamson Barbecue in Leaside (with offshoots in Etobicoke and Aurora), first made headlines in November of 2020 by illegally reopening his Etobicoke restaurant for indoor dining, attracting hundreds of supporters for three days in a row.

The move was staged in direct defiance of provincial COVID-19 lockdown rules at the time, as well as the City of Toronto's own municipal bylaws, and it got a great deal of attention.

Much of Toronto watched on via Twitter and Instagram as the "BBQ Anon" or "BBQ rebellion" saga unfolded: from Toronto Public Health's closure notice and changing of the restaurant's locks, to police arriving on horseback to arrest and eventually charge Skelly, to revelations made about the business not long afterward.

"I complied with the two weeks to flatten the curve. I complied again during the 'second wave' when we locked down, when Doug Ford promised us that there would be supporting evidence to shut down the restaurants, bars and gyms," said Skelly at the time of his illegal reopening in November.

"The data from Toronto Public Health that came out two weeks ago shows that two of the over 10,000 Ontario COVID deaths were linked to bars, restaurants and retail. So why are we getting we getting singled out? And the big multinational corporations are all essential while they're packed?"

Supporters who believed in the reasons behind Skelly's reopening protest, and all of the issues he's spoken out about since becoming the poster child for small business owners who have been hurt by pandemic closures, wound up donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to his legal fund.

The Toronto business owner has done more with that money than simply fight his charges (which, among other things, include hosting illegal gatherings, breaching indoor dining regulations and operating without a business license).

In February, after showing off a $165,188 "invoice" sent to him by Toronto's Board of Health for all of the time police had to spend controlling the crowds outside his restaurant, Skelly announced that he had formally filed a challenge with the Ontario Superior Court.

His goal was to challenge "the constitutionality of the entire emergency order that's been deployed at a provincial level," but there hasn't been much buzz since (save for some debate over whether or not the city should have actually sent Skelly that bill for police services).

That changed this week when Skelly updated his followers on the state of his legal challenge against the province, inspiring them to spread the word far and wide to anyone who would listen.

A copy of the Notice of Constitutional Question sent to blogTO shows that Skelly has gone to great lengths with the help of his legal team over the past few months to effectively mount a first-of-its kind court case that could have great implications for other businesses charged under the ROA.

"In response to the closure order I recieved under Section 9 of the Reopening Ontario Act, my legal team has filed a Constitutional Challenge," Skelly told blogTO this week.

"The province has suspended our Constitutional rights due to a pandemic declared by the World Health Organization, without any internal debate in legislature, or cost/benefit analysis performed. This is unprecedented in Canadian history."

Working with constitutional lawyer Michael Swinwood of Elders Without Borders, who is lead counsel on the case, and Pradeep Chand of Chand Snider LLP, former federal prosecutor, Skelly and his corporation have filed the challenge against Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Ontario (aka the province).

"We called six experts to speak on the multitude of issues used to hold up this 'pandemic' narrative. There are individual posts for all these experts, along with summaries of their reports, on our Instagram," says Skelly.

It's an impressive list, featuring former Manitoba Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Joel Kettner, Harvard and MIT-educated pulmonologist Dr. Gilbert Berdine, Yale epidemiology professor Dr. Harvey Risch, author and former Cornell professor Dr. William Matt Briggs, University of Guelph virology and immunology professor Dr. Byram Bridle, and Simon Fraser economics professor Dr. Douglas Allen.

"The Crown has only called one expert, Dr. Hodges from U of T, who unsurpringly has done contract work with globalist organizations such as the WHO and UN. The health ministers, Williams, Jaffe and DeVilla are nowhere to be found on this challenge," says Skelly.

"The Crown only cross-examined one of our experts, Dr. Bridle, choosing to accept the testimonies of the other five experts."

So when will we find out what happens with all of this, given how long court cases challenging laws — especially complicated ones like this — tend to drag out?

Well, a hearing is scheduled for June 28 and June 29, just a few weeks away.

Whether a judge will side with Skelly remains to be seen, and those coming from the standpoint that Ontarians are being provided with accurate scientific data would likely argue that the challenge will fail.

"Science is designed to inform policy makers, but when it is manipulated or falsified for ulterior motives, humanity as a whole suffers," reads one point in the challenge's Overview section.

"In its response to the Covid-19 virus, the Governments (Federal, Provincial and Municipal) have invoked extraordinary executive powers predicated on unsubstantiated scientific and legal grounds with catastrophic consequences to people in Ontario, Canada and indeed throughout the world."

Says Skelly: "If this challenge is successful, it means the province has not demonstrably justified the limitations on our Charter rights and must walk back the lockdowns and enforcement measures across the province immediately."

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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