CORNWALL, Ontario – The Cornwall Police Service (CPS) has warned organizers of a bi-weekly anti-mask rally not to exceed 100 individuals at their event or face a fine.
“We have spoken with the organizer(s) and have advised of the restrictions in place under the Reopening Ontario Act. The organizer was advised that if the event exceeds 100 people, he would be in contravention of the Reopening Ontario Act and subject to a fine for failing to comply,” reads a statement from CPS to Seaway News.
Organizer Christopher Leclair was defiant in a video on social media.
“Let’s have more than 100 people,” he said. “We’re not going to take this threat lightly — I won’t be taking this threat lightly.”
Last week on Nov. 8, more than 100 people were at a similar march in Hamilton. Hamilton police broke up a similar march in front of their city hall, with organizers there facing a fine of up to $10,000.
CPS Chief Danny Aikman said in a statement to Seaway News that he recognizes the right to free expression, but that he always has responsibilities under the Reopening Ontario Act. See his full statement below.
“The Cornwall Police Service (CPS) has been continuing to work with the organizers of the march to facilitate a safe event for all participants, motorists, and members of the public. We recognize that individuals have the right to be heard and express their opinions in a peaceful and lawful manner. At this time, we have not experienced any complications; however, we have asked the organizers to ensure the number of participants is limited to a maximum of 100 people per the provisions of the Reopening Ontario Act relating to organized gatherings.
The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has reported an increase in the level of community transmission in Cornwall and with this increase, we have a responsibility to ensure the safety of everyone involved through their compliance under the Reopening Ontario Act.
While the CPS remains committed to educating individuals on the Reopening Ontario Act, it is important for the public to understand that there is a need to mitigate immediate health risks to our community and enforcement may be required.”
-Danny Aikman, CPS Chief
While Cornwall had relatively low instances of COVID-19 over the course of the pandemic, the city has seen an uptick in cases in recent weeks, with numbers rising to 51 as of Nov. 18, the highest in any municipality in the EOHU region.