Police Issue Fine – Group Broke Rules on Gatherings

For some time now, a group of people have demonstrated in front of Victoria Hall every Saturday; they don’t like the restrictions mandated by the Province as a result of the pandemic.  Police have been patiently warning them and I have declined to give them publicity.  But today they went too far and at around 1:50 pm Police issued a ticket.  According to a statement by Police Chief Paul Vandegraaf, there were between twenty and twenty-five individuals on scene. He said that “Officers spoke with individuals/the group requesting they comply with the Shutdown Zone gathering limits, and the group was educated on the current provincial restrictions regarding outdoor gatherings.”  A previous statement by Police said that “If residents refuse to comply with the guidelines, they will be charged accordingly without hesitation.”  The guidelines say that no more than 5 people can participate in an outdoor event. 

As a result, one ticket was issued although the fine amount was not stated.  [Update: It was reported elsewhere that the fine was $880]

Police had previously advised that Fines for Shutdown Zone violations include:

  • Fail to Comply with an order: $750
  • Obstruct any Person Exercising a Power in Accordance with an Order: $1,000
  • Obstruct any Person Performing a Duty in Accordance with an Order: $1,000
  • Organizers of private gatherings that exceed gathering limits can receive a minimum fine of $10,000, and individuals can also receive tickets of $750

A Victim FINE Surcharge is an additional $125 for each of the above charges.

It’s not clear why the group chose to demonstrate outside Victoria Hall – the Town has no control over what the Province mandates.

A version of today’s event happened on March 20 and Pete Fisher gave them some publicity.  Go here.

A number of people have asked me why the Police let them break the rules – they have not been wearing masks or respecting social distancing.  Up till now, Police have said:

Throughout the pandemic, CPS has taken an educational approach enacting the four Es (Engage, Explain, Educate, and Enforce), working with individuals, groups, and businesses to gain compliance with evolving rules.

The good news is they are finally doing the Enforce part.  With only one ticket issued, it was presumably either to someone who refused to disperse or the organizer.

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Maureen Harrison
6 April 2021 7:15 pm

Karma would be that someone in this group comes down with Covid, not that I wish this horrible virus on anyone, but now one in thirty five Canadians have been infected. I have spoken with a family that has had the virus in their family and they have found this ongoing protest very hurtful. It is one thing to have a right to protest, another to break laws currently in place and spread incorrect information as fact. It is concerning how much they have downplayed the virus and spread incorrect, conspiracy type information about it. For example they have publicly stated that this virus is “99.9 % recoverable” (their words) which is incorrect. The death rate in Canada is currently at 2.3, so for every 100 people who come down with covid between 2 and 3 will die. Already the 99.9 % is a lie. Add to this those who end up intubated in ICU and those who have detrimental health affects long afterwards; some have not been able to work for months. I read of a case of a person who will be on oxygen for life.(He too thought the virus was a hoax…until now). I don’t think these people would agree with their figures. We have had 41 new cases in our small Northumberland County in the last two days. Given their beliefs and practices, karma may come sooner than they wish for.
In addition, people no longer feel comfortable walking around downtown on Saturdays. The CDBA should be concerned. I am trying to shop local, but not where I have to listen to this.

Jack L
4 April 2021 3:34 pm

If you’ve been vaccinated, who cares what others do? You’re safe.

Reply to  Jack L
6 April 2021 12:09 pm

Did anyone notice that one of the yellow Easter eggs was in front of Victoria Hall? The town made a scavenger hunt for families over the Easter weekend trying to bring some joy. How unfortunate that over 25 mask less people yelling, shouting, hugging, kissing decided to protest in front of the hall. I would not have ventured into that group nor should any parent take their children. I like the rest of you am fed up with these selfish people. After speaking with the Chief I understand this is an extremely difficult position for our police officers, they are trying. I just wish they would go somewhere else. I did see a note on FB that they are asking supporters to come from other communities to help them protest this weekend. I would love to see these people post their names. We know who the leader is but the rest are just followers. I believe in peaceful protest it is our right, however harmful protest is not acceptable and we do not know what these people are spreading in our community.

4 April 2021 1:43 pm

Like KOliver below, I’m not into calling these folks names, well okay ‘covidiot’ is allowed, and or dismissing their issues. Issues/impacts related to Identity Politics is ever more being studied. One of the findings is that facts very often do not matter to these type of folk, actually makes them dig in more. They appear to have a different perspective on what is important and perhaps the messaging from the province e.g. community, respect, nurturing, etc are not up there on the scale of what makes them tick. Someone else below described them as Trumpers, maybe so; and that there are significant differences between Americans and Canadians. I for one believe that Canadians believe in the general good & good governance for all; Americans on the other hand believe in individualism (societal and profit) almost a ‘last man standing’ approach. I’m not saying all is dandy in Canuck Land (as we definitely have trouble dealing with identity politics) BUT I certainly prefer our general approach to many issues.

Last edited 1 year ago by Gerinator
Covid believer
4 April 2021 11:23 am

Yes, these Qanon supporters have the right to protest and yes they have the right to freedom of speech and their own beliefs. I’ve protested myself against political decisions in the past.
However, what about my rights to walk down the street in my own community without being insulted and to protect myself and my fellow man, by wearing a mask.
Why these people, most of I’m sure do not even live in this town, insist on protesting in front of the town hall? Perhaps their mission would be better served by protesting out front of a provincial or federal constituency office??
I commend the police for finally doing something about these “Covidiots”…they and their screwball ideas are a threat to our society. Maybe they should all move to Trumpland?
I for one will continue to respect my fellow man, follow the science and proudly wear a mask!

Reply to  Covid believer
4 April 2021 12:12 pm

Some of them are ardent Trump supporters as well. I saw them driving around Cobourg with Trump flags. Yes we live in Canada. That speaks to some of their delusions. We saw what happened in the US and we should not be naive to think it could not happen in Canada. Covid is just one of their many anarchist theories. They blame their life failures in everything and anyone else. Of course never themselves. They shout about “their” rights while totally discounting the rights of others. It is easy to see how they could easily be convinced to start goose stepping and wearing uniforms.

Reply to  Kyle
4 April 2021 2:57 pm

You make some valid comments

Doug Weldon
Reply to  Kyle
4 April 2021 7:04 pm

Excellent analysis. you hit a lot of points right on.

Reply to  Covid believer
4 April 2021 2:35 pm

How can you make a comment like that. You say ” most of I’m sure do not even live in this town” How do you know that? You must think that all Cobourgions are perfect do you? This is the problem with Cobourg.

Reply to  Conor
6 April 2021 9:54 am

We know its not likely you as Cobourg no longer has free parking downtown lol😁

Laurie Peterson
4 April 2021 10:25 am

how the dictatorship going in Canada .I don’t under stand why these people don’t under stand we are living in a dictatorship . Welcome to communist Canada. dictatorship | Definition, Characteristics, Countries, & Facts | Britannica

Reply to  Laurie Peterson
4 April 2021 11:18 am

perceive the intended meaning of (words, a language, or a speaker).

Last edited 1 year ago by JimT
Reply to  Laurie Peterson
4 April 2021 2:04 pm

This comment is just more proof of the lack of intelligence exhibited within this group and their supporters.

Keith Oliver
Reply to  Laurie Peterson
4 April 2021 5:57 pm


I applaud your courage in using your name and referring to “communist Canada”. You seem passionate about your conviction and could contribute significantly to the debat if you would explain why you used that term.

As I see it, by almost any definition that I know of, Canada is one of the world’s most successful pluralistic, liberal democracies. Why do you seem to question that? Canada is not perfect, far from it. We have made and continue to make many mistakes … but over time, and with meaningful input from the public, we seem to be making progress.

I’m thinking of our Universal Health Care system; our Unemployment Assistance system; our Old Age Pensions; programs that help the elderly as they lose their independence; assistance to parents that have autistic children; our establishment of a minimum wage, etc, etc, and all of these, within the context of a capitalist, free enterprise economy. Are these not the proof needed to claim that Canada is anything but a communist country?

The idea of a truly communist society goes back hundreds of years. “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” There have been many attempts to implement these ideals. All that I know of have failed. The problem is that as humans we are fallible, perhaps too self-centered, too attracted to personal wealth and power. I remember the caution … “He who dies with the most toys wins!”

Again Laurie, please explain why you use the term “communist Canada”. In the past I’ve heard others use it. Coincidentally that happened yesterday, Saturday, when I had an random encounter with a complete stranger and mentioned the difficult times all of us are going through, some more than others.

Looking forward to your response!

4 April 2021 10:09 am

So glad to read this and I was hoping the police would enforce the law and fine them. Yes!

Constance Mealing
Reply to  marilyn
4 April 2021 10:16 pm

The tickets are useless. No money is paid and nothing is done about it as I have been told. A bad situation.

Reply to  Constance Mealing
5 April 2021 8:54 am

Really? Who told you that nonsense?

4 April 2021 9:19 am

I have also noticed the presence of the QAnon flag, a truly disheartening indication of the depth of delusion in this group. I doubt fines will change their minds.

Chief Paul VandeGraaf
4 April 2021 8:23 am

I want to thank the many residents that have reached out to me. Some have been very passionate about their feelings that the police have failed in this somehow. I know this has been frustrating for some, but sometimes the law is not so finite. Our goal has always been to evaluate, educate and now we are enforcing. As Chief this is my approach to most community issues, crime or non-crime. I am very proud of the efforts of our officers, Special Constables, Auxiliary members and Town By-Law throughout all the pandemic issues. As always if you have ANY questions just call me!

John L. Hill
Reply to  Chief Paul VandeGraaf
4 April 2021 10:16 am

I am waiting for the response that CPS has infringed the protesters freedom of speech rights. Let us not forget that all our rights as guaranteed by the constitutional provisions of the Charter are subject to reasonable limits prescribed by law and demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society. Cobourg Police have shown admirable restraint and patience but the time has now come where flouting the rules in place to protect the majority of us must be enforced. Thank you Chief VanderGraaf and your force for doing an excellent job.

Reply to  Chief Paul VandeGraaf
4 April 2021 1:27 pm

Chief, do you know whether, here in Cobourg or in the province, any of these Covidiots actually pay their fines? Also what is the penalty/enforcement if they don’t pay their fines?

Chief Paul VandeGraaf
Reply to  Gerinator
4 April 2021 4:11 pm

Not sure if the fines are being paid. I know a few years ago there was millions and millions of unpaid provincial offences. Only Highway Traffic Act fines cause a licence suspension. I will be happy to see a conviction registered!

Reply to  Chief Paul VandeGraaf
5 April 2021 9:40 am

Thanks for this feedback and info. Do you happen to know where one might find out whether fines are being paid?

Last edited 1 year ago by Gerinator
Reply to  Chief Paul VandeGraaf
5 April 2021 2:19 pm

Chief, do you think you could be there this Saturday? We all know that the demonstrators will be back. Perhaps this will show them that you really do mean business . ..I watch this every Saturday and have called multiple times to report and sometimes I feel like it is useless .. it would be great to hear YOU speak to them about enforcement. Also, why only 1 ticket issued when there were so many there ?

Maureen Harrison
Reply to  Chief Paul VandeGraaf
6 April 2021 6:30 pm

Thank you for responding and finally using what measures you to have to at least try to get a message to these people. A major concern is the lack of respect and infringement on others that this group is having, let alone the incorrect information they have tried to share. I am aware that the week prior to this past one, a local person with special physical needs tried to walk through this group and was harassed verbally. They tried to call the town the following Monday and were told “There’s nothing we can do about this”. I disagree when people are being harassed. Secondly, my neighbour had a grandchild with them in the car parked nearby. He heard them shouting that people were “losers” and was upset with this, feeling they were directing their criticism at him. I feel that tickets should have been issued much earlier, and to more people. I am hoping this week once again there will be more tickets issued and a stronger attempt to “nip it in the bud”. Otherwise the situation will only continue to deteriorate.

4 April 2021 8:20 am

i think 3/4 of the people were over 60 !
I did not see any sign of intelligent life there

4 April 2021 6:45 am

From the Gov’t of Canada’s own FluWatch report to March 20, 2021:

  • All indicators of influenza activity remain exceptionally low for this time of year, despite continued monitoring for influenza across Canada.
  • To date this season, there has been no evidence of community circulation of influenza despite continued testing above seasonal levels. Influenza activity has remained below the threshold required to declare the start of the 2020-21 influenza season.
  • Three influenza-like-illness (ILI) outbreaks in schools and/or daycares were reported in weeks 10 to 11, for a total of 124 ILI outbreaks reported this season to date. No laboratory-confirmed outbreaks of influenza have been reported to date this season.


What more evidence do we need for the effectiveness of mask-wearing during floo season? I predict masks will now become standard winter-wear just the same as toques and gloves. At least until we all learn to supplement with vitamin C and D and make the whole effort unnecessary.

Last edited 1 year ago by JimT
Reply to  JimT
4 April 2021 8:21 am

When we travel again , I will be wear a mask on planes

Ken Strauss
Reply to  JimT
4 April 2021 6:05 pm

Why do you attribute less flu to the wearing of masks? Surely other variables — working from home, hand washing, warmer winter, lack of parties, no dining out, social distancing, school closures, etc — might have had some effect.

3 April 2021 11:25 pm

Do you ever wonder what happened to the kid in school years ago that didnt conform to social norms and wasnt the brightest? I think a recognized a few out front of the Town Hall today.

Keith Oliver
Reply to  Informed
4 April 2021 8:41 am


It’s been my experience in life that you don’t change minds by insulting them or dismissing the issues they raise or the the rationale that they believe supports those issues.

Best to ask why and ask what they propose as a comprehensive alternative. All too often we simply criticize which causes the ideas of concern to become even more entrenched.

As to the issue of freedom of speech and action … When one lives in a community there is no such thing as an absolute, only principle that can be regulated. That’s the difference between Canada and the US when it comes to freedom of speech.

Reply to  Keith Oliver
4 April 2021 9:22 am

No more than 5 people can gather for organized events. They didnt understand the educational component afforded to them by Police in the past. I would have no issue with 4 people protesting or gathering within the limits of the law at this time.

3 April 2021 11:04 pm

Does anybody ever pay these fines?

Reply to  Frenchy
4 April 2021 9:37 am

I haven’t heard of any cases coming to court here in Ontario. Has anybody? With the courts pretty well closed for anything but indictable offences, it is too early to say whether the fines will be upheld. Will the SOC rule on any appeal. All this seems to be way into the future. Time will tell, I guess.

3 April 2021 10:26 pm

Downtown around 2:30 today. There they were. All milling about with signs. No masks, some woman running about hugging and kissing with them. Talking face to face up close no masks. May they all get COVID – seems the only way we’ll get rid of them. Free speech is free speech but they are spreading nothing but harm with possibility of they themselves infecting others.

Bill Thompson
Reply to  Liz
4 April 2021 4:52 pm

Did you happen to visit Victoria Park area today by any chance !?
A few groups, no masks, and non English speaking. Just an observation.
Should we be concerned particularly with today being one of the first ,but hopefully not a few pleasant sunny days to come !?

Reply to  Bill Thompson
4 April 2021 5:03 pm

What does the language they speak have to do with anything??!!

Bill Thompson
Reply to  Diana
4 April 2021 6:35 pm

Being in numbers Identifies they are not locals. .which is the point of my statement. nothing else !

3 April 2021 9:05 pm

The local police have been more than patient with these nutbars. These covidiots don’t belong in our town.