Toronto police say they did not lay any tickets at a large gathering hosted by independent Ontario MPP Randy Hillier Wednesday expressly meant to surpass the province’s gathering limits during the coronavirus pandemic.
Hillier, who represents Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston, was joined on stage by Peoples Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier and spoke to a crowd of well over 25 people, many of whom, including the two politicians, were not wearing masks.
Hillier was removed from the Progressive Conservative caucus in 2019 and has spent many of the last months preaching against Ontario’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, often peddling advice contrary to public health guidelines.
On Tuesday, Hillier stood up in the legislature, calling the government’s policies on COVID-19, especially on Ontario’s rules on gathering limits “abuse and violations” of the Canadian constitution. He then promised to purposefully break the rules the next day.
“Tomorrow I will host and gather with more than 25 friends, an offence under these authoritarian laws,” Hillier said Tuesday in the legislature.
During his speech outside of Queen’s Park Wednesday, the MPP challenged Doug Ford to enforce the province’s gathering limits under the Reopening Ontario Act, which allow no more than 25 to gather outside and 10 people to gather inside. Hosts of such gatherings can be fined a minimum of $10,000, while anyone attending a large gathering can be fined $880 under the Act.
“I‘ve challenged (Ford) today to send out Toronto bylaw, send out Toronto police. I am the host. I am the organizer. Yes, I want them to exercise the unlawful laws that he has enacted,” Hillier said to the crowd.
In the video of the event obtained by Global News, neither police nor bylaw officers were visible. Toronto Police say that officers were in the area to supervise the demonstration. No tickets or fines were laid, but police say one man in his 50s was charged with assault.
Police would not release any more information about the event and did not answer when asked why no fines were laid Wednesday.
Hillier said he was organizing the event in the hopes that he would be fined, so that he could then challenge the constitutionality of the laws enacted during the pandemic.
After his speech, Hillier shook hands and hugged people in the crowd, most of which were not wearing masks.
The board of health for Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington recently sent a letter to Hillier expressing concerns over his repeated comments made about the province’s COVID-19 guidelines.
“It was mentioned to Mr. Hillier that over the next couple of months, it will be critical to support our community and to share information on how everyone can best protect themselves by wearing a face covering, practicing good hand hygiene, physically distancing, staying home when sick, and avoiding large crowds,” a statement from the public health unit said.