The “Retail Rebellion” ends before it begins

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There was one glaring problem with the much hoped-for “Great Canadian Retail Rebellion” on Thursday: a lack of retail rebels taking part…

On February 11, there were supposed to be dozens, if not hundreds, of Ontario businesses reopening in defiance of the ongoing debilitating lockdown. Several owners of boutiques, salons and gyms had signed on to the reopening initiative organized by anti-lockdown group We Are All Essential, headed up by Vlad Sobolev.

But yet again, what people proclaim on a computer keyboard turns out to be quite different when it comes to actual boots on the ground.

Rebel News dispatched two crews to visit several of the businesses in the greater Toronto area. We didn’t come across a single one that had reopened.

Of note, it is hard to criticize business owners for having second thoughts about taking a rebellious stand. For starters, we discovered that John Tory’s “Ministry of Spying” (headed up by the uber-woke Bruce Hawkins He/Him) was keeping tabs on businesses that might pull an Adamson Barbecue.

Case in point: we visited a barber shop on Queen Street in downtown Toronto that was set to reopen. To our surprise, there were not one, but two bylaw enforcement vehicles idling outside the shop.

So much for the city’s anti-idling bylaw that forbids cars from idling for longer than 60 seconds, but then again, in John Tory’s Hogtown, the unofficial slogan these days seems to be, “Do as I say, not as I do.”

In any event, the brave bylaw enforcement officers were clearly poised to spring into action, ticketing books at the ready in order to bash the barber. How odd that when they saw the Rebel News mic flash, they suddenly turned into NASCAR drivers and bolted away. Still, the damage was done, thanks to their intimidation tactics: the barber kept his doors locked. Though a smattering of customers did drop by in the hopes of getting a haircut and showing their support, they would all leave disappointed.

As well, north of the city, I reached out to a gym owner who had planned on reopening her fitness facility. But she, too, felt a bad vibe regarding law enforcement and decided to remain closed. Here is an excerpt of a text that she sent me: “I am the only one [in my town] who would be opening and all forces would be sitting at my place. My husband really doesn’t want me there alone as I am the only employee with all eyes on me. It is crazy we are now frightened for our lives if we open our business.”

Crazier still is the amount of law enforcement that was deployed to spy on and visit otherwise honest and law-abiding shopkeepers — as if all violent crime in the GTA had been eliminated overnight!

And we know from bitter experience that the state means business – just ask Adamson Barbecue owner Adam Skelly, who had the police’s mounted unit show up to his eatery in November. If only the police used such intimidation tactics on violent gangbangers, rather than honest merchants.

And let us not forget the penalties for those with the temerity to reopen their businesses: an individual breaking the rules under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act faces a fine of up to $100,000, plus a year in prison! And a business that breaks the rules could be fined as much as $10 million.

Little wonder the Great Canadian Retail Rebellion ended before it actually began…

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  • By Ezra Levant

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