Pandemic public health charges have been dropped against an Edmonton-area pastor and church, as well as a central Alberta man who staged a rodeo to protest COVID-19 restrictions. 19.
GraceLife Church pastor James Coates was cited for violating public health orders by holding church services without adhering to provincial government-imposed gathering limits.
“I am pleased with the outcome and Pastor Coates and his church should feel some vindication,” Hart Spencer, the attorney representing the pastor and the church, said in a statement.
He appeared in Stony Plain Provincial Court on Thursday on behalf of his client.
“Pastor Coates and his congregation have faced these charges for nearly three years. It shouldn’t have been easy.
For several months in 2021, the church just west of Edmonton defied health orders and hosted hundreds of people for its weekly services.
The church broke rules on wearing masks or keeping social distancing and ignored a closing order, even though a fence was put up around the building on Highway 627 in Parkland County.
The confrontation between the church and public health officials was contentious, drawing an anti-restriction crowd to demonstrate outside the facility.
But now Crown prosecutors say they had to drop charges against Coates and GraceLife after another court ruling last month found that the Alberta government, led by the United Conservative premier of At the time, Jason Kenney had improperly imposed the orders under the Public Health Act.
In that decision, the court found that Dr. Deena Hinshaw, who was then the province’s chief medical officer, did not make the decision to impose the public health orders, leaving it instead to the government cabinet. of Alberta to do so.
The province’s Public Health Act does not allow politicians to make these decisions, and Alberta’s Court of King’s Bench has ruled them invalid.
Alberta’s Crown Prosecution Service says the court’s decision in that case made it unlikely that Coates could be convicted for breaching public health orders.
A spokesperson for the Alberta Provincial Court confirms that charges have also been stayed against Ty Northcott, whose family held a “No More Lockdowns Rodeo Rally” near Bowden, Alberta in May 2021.
Coates and Northcott were two of many people whose pandemic-related charges were dropped following the court ruling.
— With files from Karen Bartko, PKBNEWS
© 2023 The Canadian Press