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So it should hardly come as a surprise to seasoned Torontonians that this week was the site of a woman’s campaign to give “free hugs” – a cheeky blow, which called on strangers to “feel the love” and come for a tender embrace. Inspired by the internationally renowned Free Hugs project, created to promote solidarity after the Boston Marathon bombing, the woman was seen outside the Eaton Center mall, stroking one random stranger after another.
If it seems a bit reckless, if not irresponsible, to hug strangers at one of the busiest intersections in the country’s largest city in the midst of a global pandemic, consider the woman in question doing so. without a face mask – and that many of the people who accepted his offer did so without a face mask either. Of course, she wore a hot pink fabric headband, in keeping with the original message of the Open Trust and Blind Affection Campaign, possibly even for the sick and infectious.
But the attractiveness of this ridiculous spectacle, which otherwise would simply be comparable to the course of Yonge and Dundas, is considerably less fun when you think about the public health risk involved in this caper. There is a grotesque arrogance in this type of display that makes all the oddballs and ordinary crooks in Toronto’s strangest intersection seem almost holy in comparison.
The fake Peter Parkour and the guy from “Believe” don’t position themselves as shameless super-spreaders, after all. Yonge and Dundas and his reputation deserve better.