North Grenville mayor Nancy Peckford says she expects charges will be laid after a mostly maskless group gathered on the patio of a Kemptville eatery Thursday for an event originally billed as a “mask burning party.”
On Wednesday, a group called No More Lockdowns Canada announced that it would hold the event at the South Branch Bistro.
“Just like in Leamington, let’s show our support and be there to discourage the ticketing of this courageous business and remind Ford Nation that we reject his lockdowns,” said the group’s website on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, a crowd gathered outside the Family Kitchen Restaurant in Leamington to support the owner’s decision to remain open for inside dining.
Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston’s independent MPP Randy Hillier, who has been defiant of masking requirements and lockdowns, posted videos of the Kemptville event on his Facebook Page Thursday night.
“Thanks to everyone who came out, we agains (sic) stopped the ticketing of another business,” Hillier wrote.
Peckford, who lives near the restaurant said she did not attend the event, but believes the gathering was limited to the bistro’s patio.
The event started at 7 p.m. and the crowd was mostly dispersed by 8:30 p.m., she said.
North Grenville bylaw officers and OPP officers were present, she said. “I expect they will proceed with charges,” said Peckford.
“Thankfully, for the most part, everything was peaceful.”
News that the protest was coming to Kemptville sparked a social media firestorm on both sides of the issue. Peckford said she only found out about the event on Wednesday.
“I don’t believe it reflects the true character and priorities of the community,” she said.
“This movement is traveling across many communities in Eastern Ontario. It was obvious many people traveled from outside the community.”
In a letter to Solicitor General Sylvia Jones and Leeds-Grenville MPP Steve Clarke, Ottawa Centre MPP Joel Harden said ignoring Hiller is dangerous.
The people of Kemptville have done their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19, he said.
“The last thing they need is a super-spreader event in their community. They need the government to do its part to stop Mr. Hillier from pursuing this dangerous agenda at the worst possible time.”
In response to a request for more information about the event from this newspaper, No More Lockdowns responded: “It will be very fun.”