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Judge dismisses charter application of pastor on trial for violating health orders

Last Updated Jun 7, 2021 at 12:45 pm MDT

A photo of James Coates and his family. The Edmonton-area pastor has reportedly had all but one of his charges dropped on Mar. 17, 2021. (CREDIT: Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms)

EDMONTON — A judge has ruled that the religious freedoms of an Alberta pastor who is on trial for violating COVID-19 regulations were not violated.

Pastor James Coates made a charter application in relation to a ticket he received on Dec. 20 under the Public Health Act.

Provincial court Judge Robert Shaigec dismissed the application today.

An Alberta Health Services inspector testified that Coates held services at GraceLife Church in Spruce Grove, just west of Edmonton, that ignored capacity limits, physical distancing and masking.

The pastor’s lawyers have argued that COVID-19 regulations violated his right to gather and worship.

During his testimony, Coates called masking hilarious and said COVID-19 restrictions were part of “an agenda to transform the country.”

Shaigec said the trial is to reconvene at the end of June to decide on the constitutionality of Alberta public health orders that have limited attendance at places of worship.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 7, 2021.

The Canadian Press