Superior court rejects Adamson Barbecue constitutional challenge

Judge rules jurisdictional issue in dismissing application by outlaw restaurateur Adam Skelly

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An Ontario Superior Court has shot down a constitutional challenge by a Toronto eatery that publicly defied pandemic lockdown rules.

Scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday, the challenge filed by Adamson Barbecue owner Adam Skelly got off to a rocky start after the virtual courtroom immediately hit its 500-attendee maximum, initially preventing participating lawyers and even the judge from accessing the proceeding from their computers.

Skelly was charged last November for allegedly defying COVID-19 closure orders under Sec. 9 of the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA.)

Ninety minutes into the two-day hearing, Justice Jasmine Akbarali dismissed the case, saying it isn’t in anybody’s interests to move ahead with proceedings that are so vulnerable to appeal.

“I do not think the proceeding had been constituted in such a way to give me that jurisdiction,” she said.

Skelly claimed Monday’s decision was fait accompli in the government’s ongoing attempts to silence him.

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“They don’t want to make this about the substance of the argument, they want to make it about procedure,” he told the Toronto Sun.

“I’m not frustrated, it’s just very telling about the system — it doesn’t intend to administer justice, it intends to protect government.”

From the beginning, Akbarali expressed concern over her jurisdiction to rule on the matter. Skelly’s lawyer Michael Swinwood argued the case was a continuation of the proceedings commenced by the Crown against his client last year.

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Last December, Justice Jessica Kimmel enacted injunctions compelling Skelly and supporters to comply with the ROA or be found in contempt of court.

Swinwood explained Monday’s proceedings were part of a motion presented by Kimmel — a position Akbarali disputed, saying it wasn’t in Skelly’s notice of motion.

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  1. Adamson BBQ owner Adam Skelly is led away from his restaurant by Toronto Police as supporters tried to wrestle him away on Thursday, November 26, 2020.

    WARMINGTON: BBQ rebel busted

  2. Supporters of Adam Skelly at a closed and boarded up Adamson Barbecue near Royal York and Gardiner Expy in Toronto, Ont. on Friday November 27, 2020.

    WARMINGTON: Adamson BBQ owner released on bail, GoFundMe tops over $150Gs

  3. Adam Skelly, the owner of Adamson Barbecue in Toronto, opened his business a day after city officials ordered his restaurant to close, on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020.

    Adamson Barbecue clear to re-open — with conditions

“We did exactly what we were asked to do,” maintained Swinwood, explaining the notices of motion and constitutional argument were provided during case conferences.

Attorney General counsel Zachary Green claimed Skelly’s argument is based on earlier notices of motion filed in February.

Green said AG would seek to recover $15,000 in costs for the proceedings, representing “only a fraction” of time spent on the matter.

bpassifiume@postmedia.com
On Twitter: @bryanpassifiume

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