"We will defy you and we will fight you in court"
Richmond Hill Regional Councillor Carmine Perrelli continues to rail against provincial measures intended to reduce the number of Covid-19 cases. According to the York Region website, the Grey-Lockdown Zone restrictions were implemented December 14, 2020 because “there continues to be a high incidence of COVID-19 in our communities, and the opportunity for residents to come into close contact with someone who has the virus remains high.”
Days later, in an online interview, Councillor Perrelli said, “there is no reason to bring York Region into the grey zone,” adding the new restrictions will make no difference in the number of virus infections. “People are tired of not being able to meet with family and friends and they're doing it more and more; the virus is here to stay.”
In the days before the Grey-Lockdown, CEOs from York Regional hospitals, including Mackenzie Health, issued a statement saying they had seen a significant increase in the number of Covid-19 patients and that they “have reached a tipping point in our efforts to manage COVID-19-related volumes at our hospitals.” But Councillor Perrelli disagrees, saying “capacity is not an issue,” that Ontario has plenty of available ICU beds with ventilators and that “we are not at any tipping point.”
Councillor Perrelli advocates for giving Premier Ford an ultimatum to remove York Region from lockdown “or we will defy you and we will fight you in court.” He says his colleagues are too afraid to take such a stand, "the people on Regional Council, just don't have the guts to do it, they don't want to take the fall, everyone wants to cover their asses.”
It’s not the first time Councillor Perrelli has spoken against measures meant to flatten the curve of Covid-19. During a November 2 York Region Council meeting, he called for York Region to disregard provincial and medical directives and open up immediately. He suggested that it should be up to the Regional Councillors to decide what is open during the pandemic and then “let the good people of the community make the decision whether they want to follow the rules or not follow the rules.”
A special meeting of the York Region Council was held on November 2 to discuss recommendations to the province regarding Covid-19 restrictions in our area. Dr. Karim Kurji, York Region Medical Officer of Health, explained that virus cases have been at an all-time high and were rising, including in Richmond Hill. Throughout the meeting, Richmond Hill Regional Councillor Perrelli called for York Region to disregard provincial and medical directives and open up immediately.
Dr. Kurji said that scientific evidence suggests that indoor spaces where masks were not worn, and physical distancing was not practiced were important risk factors for the transmission of the virus. He cited clusters of infections in Canada that have been related to bars and gyms.
Councillor Perrelli asked Dr. Kurji, “when you say science, which science?”
He said “it’s unfair that we’re putting the burden of the responsibility on the scientists,” suggesting instead that it should be up to the Regional Councillors, not the Chief Medical Officer, to decide what is open during the pandemic and then “let the good people of the community make the decision whether they want to follow the rules or not follow the rules.”
Perrelli did not support taking masks on and off in restaurants and said people should stay apart and wear masks “when they can.”
The Councillor questioned Dr. Kurji’s authority to guide York Region through the Covid-19 pandemic because he only presents the science.
Councillor Perrelli called for York Region to go it alone, open up everything regardless of what other municipalities or the province recommended. Dr. Kurji recognized the hardships caused by Covid-19 restrictions. He said officials try to balance public health and the economy, basing decisions on the best medical and scientific evidence available.
Members of Regional Council supported opening businesses as soon as safely possible. None agreed with Councillor Perrelli’s argument to go rogue and open up York Region immediately. Several mayors stressed the need for everyone to follow advice based on science. “I value public health experts and guidelines, and I won’t apologize for it,” stated Newmarket Mayor Taylor. Others called for unity, “let’s stick together, let’s have a united front for York Region,” said Vaughan Mayor Bevilacqua.
In a total rebuff of Councillor Perrelli’s motions, Council unanimously defeated them. Nobody wanted to disregard Covid-19 guidelines, open immediately or let residents pick and chose which Covid-19 precautions they want to follow. Councillor Perrelli openly rejects the science of Covid-19. He voices contempt for medical-based guidelines to limit the virus spread. Clearly, he is not a York Region Council team player, which leaves residents to wonder, who’s team is he on?