COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS vs CIVIL LIBERTIES Provincial

Judge allows government to avoid producing Dr. Hinshaw’s evidence on lockdowns Pastor Coates’ trial

EDMONTON – The Justice Centre today announced that the trial of Pastor James Coates, of Grace Life Church, will proceed on May 3, 2021 at Provincial Court in Stony Plain, however the Court granted the Government’s request that Pastor Coates not be permitted to challenge the constitutional validity of Dr. Deena Hinshaw’s orders at the trial. The government will not be required to produce scientific evidence in support of Dr. Hinshaw’s orders. 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.

Pastor Coates’ Charter challenge to the constitutionality and legality of Dr. Hinshaw’s orders will be heard by the Court at an unknown later date.

Pastor Coates and Grace Life Church, near Stony Plain Alberta, are charged with violating the Public Health Act for holding normal church services after more than one year of government restrictions. Pastor Coates spent one month and six days in jail before his release on March 22, 2021 because he would not sign an agreement to stop pastoring his church according to the congregation’s beliefs.

Representing Pastor Coates and Grace Life Church, the Justice Centre has challenged the constitutionality of Dr. Deena’s Hinshaw’s Health Orders in Court, arguing that they are an unjustified violation of Charter rights and freedoms. The Justice Centre was, and still is, prepared to present extensive scientific and expert witness medical evidence at Pastor Coates’ trial that demonstrate Dr. Hinshaw’s lockdown orders are unscientific, unnecessary and ineffective.

“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,” states lawyer John Carpay, 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,” continues Mr. Carpay.

“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,” states Mr. Carpay.

“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,” continues Mr. Carpay.

“Albertans who are suffering financially, emotionally and mentally under another lockdown, with more restrictions being threatened, are rightfully going to be outraged at this news,” notes Carpay.

“In the Charter challenge to Dr. Hinshaw’s orders that was filed in the Court of Queen’s Bench in December 2020, the Court has given the government until July 2021 to file its scientific evidence, even though the Justice Centre already filed its scientific evidence in January. Due to procedural steps and delays on the part of government lawyers, that court challenge will not be heard until at least September 2021. The court challenge to Bill 10 has faced similar delays,” continues Mr. Carpay.

At the trial on the week of May 3, the Justice Centre will argue that multiple Charter rights and freedoms were violated by the ticketing, arresting and jailing of Pastor Coates and that such violations of constitutional rights demand that the Court throw out the single Public Health Act charge remaining against Pastor Coates.

“Pastor Coates is defending freedom of association and freedom of peaceful assembly, which are freedoms exercised by the entire population, not just churchgoers. This is likely the first time in Canadian history that a federal or provincial government has directly restricted religious freedom. Unscientific and arbitrary health orders have been imposed by an unelected and politically appointed doctor, whose Orders are not scrutinized by elected Members of the Legislative Assembly,” continues Mr. Carpay.