Cobourg Police seem to now be responding to complaints from the Public about demonstrators not following the same rules as everyone else. At a Press conference today (see video below), Chief Paul VandeGraaf, Police Board Chair and Mayor John Henderson re-iterated that they are now enforcing the rules. Last Saturday, seven offenders got tickets and two got Court summons for obstructing Police. When asked why now and not earlier, Chief VandeGraaf said that it was his decision. Police attempts to educate were being ignored and people were refusing to comply. He said their behaviour was bordering on criminal. Mayor Henderson commented that he had received a large number of calls wanting enforcement and he communicated that to the Chief. It probably helps that Pete Fisher’s video makes good evidence for the Police case.
Last Saturday, 10 April, officers responded to a gathering taking place in front of Victoria Hall. Upon arrival, police estimated between twenty-five and thirty individuals were gathered. Officers spoke with the group, requesting they disperse and comply with the current Stay-At-Home order.
As a result, seven Provincial Offences Notices [Tickets] were issued for Fail to Comply with an order made during a declared emergency Contrary to Section 7.0.11(1) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.
Additionally, two individuals were issued Provincial Summons [Means they must appear in Court] for the Offence of Obstruct any person exercising a power in accordance with an order made during a declared emergency Contrary to Section 7.0.00(1)
Police are currently looking to identify three people who attended the gathering on Saturday who would not identify themselves. These people will be given tickets as well.
Comment by Chief
“We have provided notice to the community that we would be enforcing the Stay-at-Home Order and ticketing accordingly. The expectations have been made clear, and this community group continues to gather in spite of our efforts,” says Chief Paul VandeGraaf, Cobourg Police Service. “This past weekend, despite being treated with disrespect and having derogatory slurs hurled at them, from some individuals of the group, my officers and Town Bylaw remained calm and professional. I remain committed to working with our community and local partners to continue to promote compliance.”
The Police are working with Prosecutors and will use Pete Fisher’s Video as evidence (see below).
Although I’m reluctant to publicize people pushing lies, if you don’t know already, these people were not wearing masks and were demonstrating against their use plus any efforts to combat the virus.
Rob Washburn asked whether Police were concerned that prosecuting would make the demonstrators martyrs but Chief VandeGraaf said that he can’t make decisions based on concerns that “people may be using us” or a world of “what ifs”. He also said that because extra resources were deployed, no other calls for Police services went unanswered. He plans extra resources for the coming weekend but is hopeful Police actions will deter the people not following direction.
To underline the seriousness of our situation, Mayor Henderson said that if we were currently using the zone system, we would now be in the red zone instead of yellow.
The Chief made it clear that he was not expressing an opinion on Provincial rules nor was he stopping free speech – instead he was enforcing rules that the demonstrators were breaking. To me it’s really quite simple: the stay-at-home order allows for exceptions but these do not include gathering in groups to demonstrate. Previous restrictions, no doubt still in force, limited groups to 5 or less.
You can get more detail on what was said from the Press Conference Video below.
See also update below for Saturday 17 April
Video of Event on April 10 – by Pete Fisher of Today’s Northumberland.
Press Conference Video – By Cobourg Police
Report on similar event on April 3 – 3 April 2021
Update – Saturday 17 April – posted 5:30 pm
Gathering in the Town of Cobourg leads to charges
The Cobourg Police Service issued four tickets as a result of a gathering in the Town of Cobourg in violation of the current provincewide Stay-At-Home-Order. In addition, police identified two individuals from a gathering held last weekend who will be charged.
On the afternoon of Saturday, April 17, 2021, police attended Victoria Hall located at 55 King Street West in Cobourg in response to a gathering taking place in violation of the current Stay-At-Home Order.
Police estimated there were approximately 30 individuals gathered in a group and walking along the street.
Recent changes to the current Stay-At-Home order prohibit all outdoor gatherings, except for with members of the same household or one other person from outside that household who lives alone.
Officers spoke with the group, engaging with the group to ensure understanding of the recent changes and clarity that those who chose not to comply would be charged accordingly. Interactions between the group and the police were respectful.
As a result, four people were charged with Fail to comply with an order made during a declared emergency, contrary to section 7.0.11(1) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.
The Cobourg Police Service supports all measures necessary to limit the spread of COVID-19 and variants in our community and will continue to work with local public health, municipal and regional officials to ensure compliance. Cobourg Police will continue to be proactive and complaint-driven in our response to the increased measures. While provincial offences officers, including police officers, have enforcement rights under the new EMCPA order, we will continue to focus on the 4 Es – Engage, Explain, Educate, and Enforce. Those that refuse to comply will receive the appropriate penalty.
See also Police statement re not randomly stopping people to check why they are away from home. Go here. (Halfway down grey box).