Ontarians are skewering a rebel barbecue restaurateur who has defied COVID-19 restrictions, a new poll suggests.
The Campaign Research survey for the Toronto Star found three-quarters of respondents — 76 per cent — oppose Adam Skelly’s highly publicized flouting of pandemic health orders.
Only 19 per cent supported Skelly, whose refusal to close Adamson Barbecue in Etobicoke to in-person dining during a mandatory lockdown, has generated headlines and led to charges.
Five per cent of respondents had no opinion.
“It just tells you there is very little support for him defying Ontario’s health measures,” Campaign Research principal Nick Kouvalis said Friday.
“People have seen the videos of customers and staff not wearing masks or keeping a safe social distance,” said Kouvalis, who has worked with Conservative and Liberal candidates across Canada and managed the winning Toronto mayoral campaigns of Rob Ford and John Tory.
“Two-thirds (64 per cent of those polled) said they were ‘strongly opposed’ to his defiance while another 12 per cent was ‘somewhat opposed,’” the veteran pollster said.
“That’s a supermajority of opposition, which is significant,” he said of an outspoken businessman who has emerged as a folk hero to some for resisting measures designed to curb the spread of COVID-19, which has killed more than 3,700 Ontarians since March.
Kouvalis noted a staggering 87 per cent of those polled said they were aware of the barbecue controversy that erupted last week with just 13 per cent unaware.
Campaign Research polled 1,001 people across Ontario from Tuesday through Thursday using Maru/Blue’s online panel.
It is an opt-in poll, but for comparison purposes, a random sample of this size would have a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
The vast majority of those surveyed — 76 per cent — said they agreed with the restrictions implemented by Premier Doug Ford in consultation with Dr. David Williams, the province’s chief medical officer for health, and other public-health officials.
That includes limiting bars and restaurants to takeout service of food and booze in Toronto and Peel, limiting most stores to curbside pickup, and closing personal services, such as barbershops and salons.
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Only 20 per cent opposed those prohibitions and four per cent were not sure.
“Again, this is a supermajority that wants the restrictions kept in place,” said Kouvalis.
Indeed, 44 per cent of respondents said the provincial government was “right to implement these tough restrictions in Toronto, Mississauga, and Brampton” last month to slow the spread of the virus.
Another one-third — 34 per cent — said the province did not go far enough and would like to see Queen’s Park “issue a ‘stay-at-home’ order across many, if not all, regions of Ontario.”
“People would be able to go outside their homes for specific things such as grocery shopping and exercise. Schools would be closed as well.”
One in seven of those polled — 14 per cent — agreed with the statement that “the government of Ontario is wrong and that Ontario should remain open and keep the economy running despite a rise in COVID-19 cases.”
Overall, 41 per cent agreed “the government has done a good job … and we need the new restrictions and enforcement to remain in place for December at least.”
Another 18 per cent said “the government has done a good job, but the new restrictions need to be relaxed so that more people can keep working.”
But 27 per cent agreed with the statement the “government has done a bad job and … we need the rules and restrictions to be more strict and they should have been put into place earlier.”
An additional eight per cent said the province “has done a bad job because all the rules and restrictions were not effective and most of it was totally unnecessary and over the top.”
That small fringe agreed “we must get back to normal as soon as possible because this virus isn’t affecting more than five per cent of the population.”
Just six per cent had no opinion on the prohibitions.
Robert Benzie is the Star’s Queen’s Park bureau chief and a reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @robertbenzie
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