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Judge to Rule on Appeal of Fines Against Wingham Coffee Shop

(Wingham, ON) On July 11th at 10:30 am, Judge T.G. MacDonald will deliver a crucial ruling on the appeal of $6,900 in fines issued against Buck & Jo’s, a coffee shop in Wingham, Ontario. These fines were originally imposed by Justice Of The Peace Frank Leddy, who now faces scrutiny for potential errors in his judgment.

The fines stem from a series of contentious interactions between Buck & Jo’s and Huron Perth Public Health (HPPH) inspectors. The coffee shop owners, notably Buck, have publicly and repeatedly stated that they would lock their doors before the compliance deadline rather than infringe upon their customers’ rights. They argue that this decision was a political statement and should not warrant punishment.

Allegations have emerged against HPPH inspectors, including dereliction of duty, refusal to conduct inspections, and refusal to answer pertinent questions. Videos capturing these interactions have gone viral, amassing over 250,000 views, showing Buck firmly standing his ground against inspectors who failed to perform their duties adequately.

One key aspect of the case is the admission by HPPH that their inspectors did not have the authority to check photo identification and health information of customers. They conceded that without this authority, they could not impose such responsibilities on Buck or any other individual.

This case raises an important legal question: Does a business have the right to shut down before a compliance deadline to avoid legal complications? The outcome could set a significant precedent for similar cases in the future.

The controversy includes allegations of perjury against HPPH inspectors and claims of intimidation tactics. During the first visit by HPPH, an Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officer accompanied the inspector with his hand on his gun, demanding compliance with the inspection. Contrary to HPPH’s claims, video evidence disproves allegations that Buck brandished a weapon during the interaction.

Despite the restaurant being closed a week before the incident and remaining closed for months afterward, it was fined $6,900, a sum notably higher than fines for some drunk driving offenses, which are typically around $1,500. There were also inconsistencies in the inspectors’ testimonies, with one inspector falsely claiming to have read online that the dining room would be open for indoor dining. HPPH issued and then deleted a press release that inaccurately stated they had shut down the dining room, which was already closed at the time.

The case has been drawn out over 972 days, with accusations that the prosecution has been profiting from the extended proceedings. Inspectors allegedly provided around 30 inconsistent statements during the trial. Justice Of The Peace Leddy has been criticized for his handling of the case, including admitting multiple times that he could not keep up with the proceedings and failing to obtain a trial transcript, leading to potential errors in his ruling.

Judge MacDonald’s upcoming decision will address these controversies and the broader implications for businesses facing similar situations. The hearing will be available for public viewing via a Zoom link. https://ca01web.zoom.us/j/64074406397?pwd dUNjcnE5K1k4R2N4TkxvT1JtUGtpZz09

This case highlights the challenges and complexities of enforcing health regulations and the rights of businesses in navigating compliance issues. The outcome will be closely watched by legal experts, business owners, and the public alike.