Bar owner has no regrets about calling police on MPP’s sons over mask use

The owner of a Perth, Ont., bar that was the scene of a confrontation this past weekend between police and the sons of a local MPP says he was only trying to follow public health guidelines about masks.

Randy Hillier, who represents Lanark–Frontenac–Kingston, confirmed two of his sons were involved in the dispute outside the Golden Arrow Pub and Eatery on Friday night, which resulted in police subduing one of the men with a stun gun.

OPP arrested and charged two men with public intoxication after responding to a call from the bar about patrons who were refusing to wear masks. They were released from police custody Saturday morning, along with the Hillier brother who was Tasered and detained, but wasn’t charged.

It’s their own fault for being aggressive and belligerent to the police.– Dimitrios Kotsovolos

Hillier tweeted that his sons had told the bar’s owner their friend had a medical exemption.

Hillier, who has voiced his own opposition to public health guidelines concerning masks, called the incident “disturbing” and expressed concerns about “inappropriate actions by members of the OPP.”

“In this latest instance an individual was physically escorted out of the pub in downtown Perth for failure to wear a facial covering while drinking with my two sons,” the MPP said in a statement issued Saturday. 

Bar owner Dimitrios Kotsovolos said based on previous conversations with public health officials, he believed he could be fined if patrons weren’t wearing masks, regardless of any exemptions.

“So at that point, what are the choices I have?” Kotsovolos asked. “Whether [the individuals are] exempt or not, the thing is that I can get fined if they’re not wearing a mask. So my takeaway is that I have to ask them to leave.”

Abusive language

Kotsovolos said he called the police not just because the men were refusing to wear masks, but because they also refused to leave the bar and used offensive and abusive language that disturbed other patrons.

Kotsovolos said police arrived and escorted two of the men from the bar. The third man, Hillier’s other son, joined the fracas outside.

According to a news release from the OPP, once outside, the men “refused to leave the area” and became “assaultive with officers.” 

“The police were more than patient for the longest time,” Kotsovolos said. “For 10 minutes of verbal abuse. That’s quite a long time.”

In his statement, Hillier alleges there was “no physical contact nor threatening nor aggressive behaviour other than that initiated by the OPP constables.”

Ontario independent MPP Randy Hillier, pictured above, said his sons tried to de-escalate the situation outside the bar, an assessment the establishment’s owner rejects. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

The MPP, who has sat as an independent since being kicked out of the Progressive Conservative party’s caucus in 2019, claimed his sons were attempting to “de-escalate” the situation, an assessment Kotsovolos adamantly rejects.

“It’s not my fault they got Tasered,” Kotsovolos said. “It’s their own fault for being aggressive and belligerent to the police.”

According to the OPP, “business owners may request that patrons leave their premises and can request police assistance if patrons fail to do so under the Trespass to Property Act.”

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