As the aggressive enforcement of mask mandates continues, with increasing disregard for exemptions or exceptions, I’m not sure if any of these stories are surprising anymore.
Brett Smith complied with the mask mandate at the Cobourg, Ontario YMCA. He was given a ‘talking to’ of sorts by a masking enforcer, but left feeling good about the conversation, when he had his mask beneath his nose while bench pressing. After all, as per Regulation 364/20 of the Reopening Ontario Act, it would be completely justified for Brett to remove his mask completely — to ensure he had enough oxygen to sustain his endurance training. The law clearly states that masks can be removed “as may be necessary for the purposes of health and safety.”
This loosely worded YMCA policy states that masks are required, except while using cardio equipment, but does not specify whether one can remove their mask for the purpose of catching one’s breath… as per the law.
Regardless, a difference of opinion between YMCA staff and Brett continued. On a later occasion, he was told that the original employee was offended by his stance. Even though he complied with masking, the situation escalated to the point where he was threatened with membership cancellation.
Brett, being a paying member with a booked time slot, continued on with his workout plan and asked to be issued a refund and cancellation upon his exit from the building. But he never got that far….
Staff at the YMCA called Cobourg police on Brett as he went about his workout. When police arrived, Brett was told he was being arrested. Again, Brett is a paying member of the facility, who had a scheduled appointment. When he asked what he had done wrong and tried to de-escalate the situation, he was eventually tased, twice, before leaving the building in cuffs.
As per Taser protocol, hospital staff at Northumberland Hills Hospital saw Brett for followup. When they saw where the hooks were attached, the staff were shocked to see how close to his heart the gun had been aimed.
Three days later, another man was tased by the same officer, for what started as an alleged mask violation.
I have reached out to police, including Cobourg Police Service chief Paul VandeGraaf and YMCA staff for comment.
Chief VandeGraaf sits on the board of directors of the YMCA.