Michelle Gervais’ introduction, the press release by our sister organization in Ontario, Citizens for Civil Liberties and the Guelph Mercury article following it, tells the story of a true believer and fighter for civil liberties, Diana Reid from Guelph, Ontario.
Diana Reid is a 61 year old retired nurse who decided, after her retirement, to open a small coffee shop to keep herself busy. Her coffee shop is located at the corner of Victoria Road N. and Speedvale in Guelph. It is called Clubhouse Donuts. Her customer base consists largely of senior citizens who live in nearby apartment buildings.
Diana has been charged numerous times for violating first the Guelph smoking ban and then the Ontario Smoke-Free Act. When the smoking ban came into effect, Diana decided that she would fire all of her employees and run the coffee shop herself. In this way, no-one ever had to enter her shop except by choice.
In her last court case, Diana lost her business licence and today, May 30th, is the last day that her shop will be open. She closes at 5:00 pm. She is holding a sale today and selling everything off!
Citizens for Civil Liberties applauds Diana's courage in refusing to government regulations to intrude unreasonably on her private property and issued the following press release:
Citizens for Civil Liberties (2CL) is here to celebrate the accomplishments of Diana Reid. Diana is a Canadian who believes that standing up for her property rights, in the face of intolerant and draconian government regulation.
Diana Reid’s coffee shop did not represent a risk to public health. There are no employees in the shop and there was no need for any member of the public to enter the shop unless they chose to! But the existence one small place where senior citizens and others who like to smoke and choose to exercise their right to consume a legal product while associating with one another was a threat to the tobacco control crusade.
Competition from businesses that provide people with the freedom to smoke cannot be tolerated. The success of such businesses would mean that “most of the public” do not support 100 % smoking bans and the well-paid services of the tobacco control lobby would simply not be required in a society where all choices are respected.
The forced closure of Diana Reid’s coffee shop will affect her many customers, most of whom were senior citizens. People who only desired a place to meet and associate with others of like interests.
The Supreme Court recently upheld the right of association granted under the Charter of Rights for “swingers” who wanted to operate private clubs for the express purpose of engaging in sexual activities of mutual interest.
The provincial government of Dalton McGinty appears to have singled out smokers as the sole Canadians whose right to socialize with others for the purposes of a shared interest or activity is not to be respected. We regret that Mr. McGinty appears unwilling to represent the interests of the 1.4 million Ontarians who choose to exercise their natural rights to self-determination and the right to choose to consume a legal product.
There is apparently something about people being able to smoke together in dignity and comfort in any space, no matter how small or how secluded, that is an such a threat to ‘public health” that even one coffee shop with senior citizens for customers cannot be tolerated at any price.
Citizens for Civil Liberties welcomes the opportunity of working closely with Diana Reid to continue making the public aware of the impact of the Ontario Smoke-Free Act on the every day lives of private citizens.
Director – Media Relations
Citizens for Civil Liberties
Smoky Clubhouse closes
Smoking violations see doughnut shop owner close doors, sell off contents
GUELPH (May 30, 2007)
Saturated with cigarette smoke, the contents of Clubhouse Donuts on Speedvale Avenue will be sold off today, marking the demise of an establishment that continued to allow smoking long after other Guelph establishments learned to butt out.
Sixteen convictions under the City of Guelph's smoking bylaw and a recent charge under the Smoke-free Ontario Act sunk the business. It lost its business licence.
Yesterday was the last full day of operation at the smoky doughnut shop.
A committed smoker and champion of smokers' rights, Clubhouse Donuts owner Diana Reid says she will sell off the contents of the business during a sale today beginning at 1 p.m. at the 485 Speedvale Ave. E. shop. But Reid, a political activist at heart, said she will continue to fight to expose non-smoking laws for what she says they truly are -- infringements on civil rights and personal freedom.
"I don't believe this has anything to do with smoking," said Reid, 61, her voice gravelly from decades of smoking. "I believe it's about government control."
In the background, a group of seven or eight men, all regulars, sat at the café's counter, many smoking cigarettes -- a scene not witnessed in this community since 2000 when the city banned smoking in restaurants.
The smell of smoke was heavy in the air of an establishment that about three months ago was raided by provincial inspectors and armed police officers, who issued a number of $250 tickets to patrons who defiantly broke the Smoke-free Ontario Act.
"I think it infringes on private property rights," said Reid, who has operated the business for 10 years, and watched as its revenues diminished significantly after the smoking laws were introduced. "I think this is an issue about civil rights and civil liberties, and it is a choice that I should have a right to make for myself as a business owner."
Tina Agnello, deputy clerk for the City of Guelph, confirmed that Reid's application to renew Clubhouse Donuts' business licence was denied.
"We have various inspections that are conducted, one of them being a public health inspection," explained Agnello. "We received correspondence from public health that the business had not passed their public health inspection, and also there were various past convictions. Based on that, they recommended that the licence not be renewed."
The convictions were based on allowing patrons to smoke and for failing to have the appropriate smoking signs on the premises, Agnello added.
"It's like a social club atmosphere here," said Paul Lamont, 71, a regular at Clubhouse Donuts who has been a smoker since the age of 14. "I know it's not good for my health, but neither is drinking and driving -- neither is war."
Lamont was there when provincial inspectors raided the shop this year.
"It wasn't a crack house. It wasn't a bank robbery or a rape," he said. "It was just some people having a smoke. It's legal to make cigarettes, it's legal to sell them, and it's legal to buy them. I can smoke them at home, but in certain places I can't smoke a cigarette. I just think it's wrong."
Reid said she and her supporters will fight in court the convictions under the local bylaw and Smoke-free Ontario Act charge because they say the smoking laws give the government too much control.
"We see it as the first step in a chain of government control issues," she said. "And that makes us frightened and that's why we are taking a stand."
While Reid has been convicted numerous times for violating smoking laws, she intends to appeal the fines to a higher court once they enter the collections phase.
"I don't feel that I am a person anymore," she said.
"You can let your dog off the leash in designated park areas, but there is nowhere for me to go. As a smoker, I am banned from everywhere -- that makes me less than a dog. I am insulted. I think it's disgusting. I am going to fight back."