Chris Scott, owner of the Whistle Stop Cafe, speaks during a rally against measures taken by government and health authorities to curb the spread of COVID-19 at his cafe in Mirror on Saturday. The Whistle Stop was shut down by AHS for not complying with COVID-19 rules. (Photo by The Canadian Press)

Chris Scott, owner of the Whistle Stop Cafe, speaks during a rally against measures taken by government and health authorities to curb the spread of COVID-19 at his cafe in Mirror on Saturday. The Whistle Stop was shut down by AHS for not complying with COVID-19 rules. (Photo by The Canadian Press)

Whistle Stop owner plans to appeal sentence for holding lockdown rally

Mirror café owner and anti-lockdown activist Christopher Scott has reaped $120,000 in crowd-funded cash from supporters, according to a sentencing judge.

Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Adam Germain sentenced Scott last week after finding him guilty of contempt of a court order for holding an anti-lockdown rally in May. Scott was sentenced to three days in prison, satisfied by the time he served in jail after being arrested at the May rally.

The owner of the Whistle Stop Café was also fined $20,000 and ordered to cover just under $11,000 in court costs and do 120 hours of community service work. Scott has three years to pay off the money at no less than $500 per month.

In his Oct. 13 written sentencing decision, Germain noted that “Scott’s activism against the COVID-19 health measures gave him significant personal benefit.

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Germain said that while Scott asserted that he was broke and getting further in debt because of COVID-19 “his celebrity status as a conscientious objector generated $120,000 of crowd-funded money.” That money became part of a $160,000 down payment to buy the restaurant and surrounding property.

Scott acknowledges the amount raised but refutes the idea he has become rich off his opposition to provincial health restrictions.

The money did not come close to the $360,000 needed to buy the restaurant and property, above the $40,000 or so in operating capital he has invested. As a result, his financing costs $5,000 a month, Scott said in a phone interview with The Advocate earlier this week.

“People have this impression that I’m rich and made all this money. But because we used that money for what we said we were going to do, and we were shut down for six weeks, then got robbed, and had to use all the operating capital. We’ve got no money.”

Even if he could pay the fine off right away, he wouldn’t, saying he is determined to take his battle to the courts.

Scott’s lawyer, Chad Williamson, said on Thursday an application has been made to have the courts set aside the original injunction prohibiting the rally. Constitutional challenges related to provisions of the Public Health Act have also been filed.

As well, Williamson expects to file an appeal of the sentence soon.

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In his sentencing decision, the judge noted that Scott told donors that they could ask that their money go to charities. About $8,000 was donated on the condition it went to charity but has not yet been passed on, the judge wrote.

Scott said he made it clear that the money earmarked for charities would be donated, but only after the property deal was completed. If the full $360,000 had been raised the charitable portion would have been passed on right away. Once mortgage-free, he also planned to pass on additional donations to those in need, he said.

The café remains open but only for takeout and outside dining. He is not participating in the province’s vaccine program that requires indoor diners show proof of vaccination and estimates business is only 30 per cent of usual.

Meanwhile, Scott has helped organize Full Steam Ahead, a non-profit society that already has more than 750 members aimed at creating a place for those skeptical of COVID-19 restrictions and vaccinations to share information and to raise money to launch new court actions against the province and AHS.

The office of the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General, as well as AHS could not be reached for comment.



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