Following his arrest, Adamson Barbecue owner Adam Skelly was given a set of restrictions after posting his $50,000 bail: he must comply with the Reopening Ontario Act; he must stay 200m away from any of his restaurants; he must not post or communicate on social media.
These orders, unlike the restrictions placed on indoor dining, have so far been followed by Skelly.
However, communicating via an email to his customers and supporters, Skelly recently released a lengthy statement where he shared his side of the events surrounding the Great Canadian Barbecue Rebellion.
Skelly's intention, he says, was not to “diminish the effects that COVID may have had on you or your loved ones, but to shine some light on the unjust laws, disproportionate restrictions on small business, and excessive force used against anyone who challenges the authoritarian measures put in place by the provincial government.”
Part of Skelly's plan, he said, was to receive a charge under the Reopening Ontario Act, so that he could challenge it in court, “despite [it] not being a smart business move.”
Though his restaurants boast strong takeout numbers, Skelly stated that, much like thousands of other businesses across the country, his restaurants would not survive further lockdowns that push into the Spring. The large indoor dining space, and accompanying parking lots to support those diners, come at a high financial cost.
Although Adamson Barbecue is offering home delivery across the GTA, Skelly said his sales were still down 60 per cent. He claimed that his businesses were employing 55 people between two locations in February of 2020, and has seen that number decline to just 26 people between three locations today.
Responding to the massive police presence that forced the shutdown of his Etobicoke location, Skelly questioned the legality of the actions taken by Toronto Mayor John Tory and Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa, describing the police response as an “excessive use of force.”
“I made many promises (including to myself) not to back down,” Skelly said, before entering his establishment through the back of the building that hadn't been blocked by police.
“This got the police and bylaw to issue the charges under the "Reopening Ontario Act" that I was after. I also found out that the police were willing to throw people on the ground, push through crowds of people in an attempt to enter a building without a warrant, and arrest me like a criminal for exercising my right to earn a living.”
Skelly said he was arrested on charges of mischief for kicking through the door of his business, as well as obstruction for entering into the restaurant. He alleges that police told him that those charges would normally get him a “notice to appear on the spot” and that he was subsequently detained for 30 hours.
Wrapping up his message, Skelly said that he accepted the consequences for his actions, and vowed to be “transparent with how each penny [of the funds raised from a GoFundMe set up for him] is being spent” with an eye toward using those funds to challenge the constitutionality of the Reopening Ontario Act.
“I promise I will continue to fight for our freedoms, for small businesses, and for a brighter future for our children. And make the best barbecue in the country while I'm at it.”