Court Grants Alberta’s Request To Forbid Jailed Pastor From Challenging Health Order During Trial

“Reprehensible and pathetic...”
Gavel In Front Of Canadian Flag
biffspandex via Getty Images

A provincial court in Alberta, Canada, ruled earlier this week that Pastor James Coates, who was jailed earlier this year after holding church services, will not be allowed to challenge the constitutional validity of Alberta’s Public Health Act during his upcoming trial.

The Provincial Court in Stony Plain, Alberta, also ruled that the government will not have to produce scientific evidence to support the order, according to a press release from the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF).

“Government lawyers told the Court that the Alberta Government could not produce any scientific evidence in support of Dr. Hinshaw’s orders in time for the May 3 trial,” JCCF said. The Alberta Government Crown Prosecutor had before sought to delay the May 3 trial so the prosecution could have more time to gather evidence.

Coates, who pastors GraceLife Church near Edmonton, was arrested in February and jailed for more than a month for conducting services in violation of the Health Act issued by Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Deena Hinshaw, which limited congregations to 15% capacity. JCCF filed challenges to the constitutionality and legality of Hinshaw’s orders, which the court will not hear until an unknown later date.

“After 13 months of violating Charter freedoms, the Alberta Government refuses to present evidence in support of lockdowns in Court, and unfortunately the courts have permitted the government to delay facing accountability in regard to Charter violations,” said lawyer John Carpay, who is president of the Justice Centre.

“Justice delayed is justice denied. It is clear that the government’s approach to any challenge to its lockdown policies is to withhold the evidence and delay as long as it can,” he continued, adding:

We are now in our thirteenth month of Charter-violating lockdowns, in what was supposed to be a temporary two-week measure to flatten the curve. By May 3, the government will have had fourteen months to assemble proper medical and scientific evidence to justify lockdowns and the resulting violations of our fundamental Charter freedoms. For the Alberta Government to request that it not be required to provide evidence on May 3 in support of Dr. Hinshaw’s Orders, while at the same time barricading the church, is both reprehensible and pathetic.

The Alberta government supposedly has enough medical and scientific evidence to shut down hundreds of small businesses, pushing many of them into bankruptcy, and to cancel over 20,000 medically necessary surgeries, and to force Albertans into a third lockdown. But when asked to produce this medical and scientific evidence at trial, the Alberta government declares itself incapable of doing so.

The Coates case and the response from government authorities toward his church have drawn international attention and outrage. On April 7, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) raided the church building at dawn and erected three layers of fencing around the complex, forcing church members to meet in secret.

On Sunday, heavily armed members of the RCMP swarmed the church area in response to protesters, some of whom ripped down portions of the barrier.

Sheila Gunn Reid, a journalist with Rebel News who was present on the ground during the incident, told The Daily Wire that the agitation was not because of anyone at the church, most of whom were meeting at another location with Coates.

Canadian MP Derek Sloan denounced the behavior of the Alberta government, tweeting, “In a battle that truly is about the fundamental freedoms of the Western world, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is choosing to suppress religious liberty. The compliant Canadian media won’t cover this, but America is noticing.”

Related: EXCLUSIVE: Pastor And Lawyer Defiant After Canadian Police Raid, Barricade Church At Dawn

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Court Grants Alberta’s Request To Forbid Jailed Pastor From Challenging Health Order During Trial