South Peace News
Patrons who tried to dine at a downtown Peace River restaurant last week found police waiting for them instead.
Karen Greaves announced on Facebook that she would be opening her restaurant Karen’s Home Cooking, on Jan. 11 despite a provincial public health order that temporarily closed restaurants to sit down dining in an attempt to limit the post-Christmas spread of the coronavirus.
Greaves said in her Facebook post that no masks or social distancing would be required.
The post was greeted with enthusiasm by hundreds of Peace River residents who said they would be happy to eat there, some of them praising Greaves for standing up for their freedom, although many others spoke out against breaking public health orders. Multiple people reported the restaurant to the Town of Peace River and to Alberta Health Services.
A Town spokesperson says all complaints to the Town were passed along to AHS.
AHS then sent police to the restaurant, where several potential customers say they were met at the door with $1,200 fines.
Neither the RCMP or AHS responded to repeated requests for comment on the number or amounts of any fines issued.
Dana Blayone posted she was eating breakfast at the restaurant before police arrived and closed it to all but pickup orders.
“Practicing civil disobedience for the highest law in Canada, the Canadian Charter of Freedoms and Rights,” her post says.
“Going for breakfast at Karen’s Kitchen. Don’t worry about me or others. . . 99.7% recovery rate means I can live without fear,” she added.
Bob and Dana Blayone have advocated against any kind of lockdowns throughout the pandemic and have organized small protests in Peace River and Grande Prairie. Dana Blayone also sits on the board of PeaceFest.
Blayone’s post says the action is recommended by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, a group that focuses on right-wing causes and is best know for unsuccessfully fighting the NDP government’s legislation to protect students who joined gay-straight alliance clubs in school. The UCP later overturned that legislation.
Representing two Calgary churches and a small business, the JCCF and Rath & Company law firm recently failed to get a court to agree to block public health orders over Christmas with an injunction after a judge ruled the orders were in the public interest. The case was available to watch online and was also live Tweeted.
Madam Justice Anne Kirker of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench says the lawyers failed to provide enough evidence the restrictions hurt the clients they represented, and says Dr. Deena Hinshaw has the authority to put orders in place due to the pandemic.
“The information [the applicants] provide questions the necessity of the restrictions on the entire population of Alberta — this part of the applicants’ argument goes too far,” Madam Justice Kirker ruled.
The JCCF is persisting in its attempt to challenge the Province’s COVID restrictions on constitutional grounds, although at press time a further court date has not yet been set.
For her part, Greaves seems unrepentant. In a follow-up post addressed to the local residents she thanks everyone for their support.
“I’m fighting for not only my business, and way of life, but for the 140 million lives brought into the world last year, the ones who have never seen a stranger’s face without it being covered with a mask,” she writes.
“I’m fighting for individual freedom and the right to chose what you want to do with your body, your life and your career.
“I don’t want a future where we are controlled caged animals for the elite. I want a future where you are free to be who you are and we love and care for each other like a community. Not fighting one another or choosing the government’s side in times of injustice, the way that we have been. There is strength in numbers, we can only do this together.”
Greaves’ attempt to reopen her restaurant was part of a province-wide protest that also saw a few other businesses open in defiance of the government order.
Most notable was Ralph Klein’s niece, Natalie Klein, who reopened her business Bladez 2 Fadez in Innisfail, and was also promptly shut down. She has been issued an order to close with potential fines of $5,000 a day if she doesn’t.
However, on Jan. 15 the Province eased some of its restrictions, allowing hairstylists, tattoo artists and others to open for clients on an appointment basis. The relaxed restrictions do not yet include restaurants.
Alberta’s COVID numbers remain serious and continue to put a strain on the healthcare system, although vaccines are now being administered to frontline workers and to the elderly in long-term care.