Alberta Government Wants to Censor the Pastor of Gracelife Church on Trial: Lawyer

Counsel for a clergyman from Alberta accused of violating COVID-19 rules said the province’s health agency has offered a way to punish the church leader.

James Kitchen told James Coats’ trial in Edmonton that his client was charged the same day he preached criticizing Alberta’s leadership on the epidemic.

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‘Compliance with AHS is non-compliance with God’: Alberta pastor testifies at trial

Congregation of Gresliffe Church in Parkland County, west of Edmonton, on December 13, 2020.

Congregation of Gresliffe Church in Parkland County, west of Edmonton, on December 13, 2020.

Credit: Alberta Health Services

Coats was ticketed for health inspectors under the Public Health Act on December 20, 2020, stating that he held services at Gresliffe Church ignoring capacity limits, physical disturbances and masking.

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In the County of Parks, west of Edmonton city limits, it has been closed for 24-hour security for about a month, following an order by the AHS to physically close it.

Security and police blocked the entrance to Gresliffe Church as a fence formed near Edmonton on Wednesday, April 7, 2021.

Canadian Press / Jason Franson

Kitchen says it is not a coincidence that the day Premier Jason Kenny was handling the COVID-19 crisis, he was given a sermon on the same day that Coats was ticketed for.

Advocates say that health inspectors had come to many services before and noted violations of COVID-19 rules in their reports.

He says inspectors also came on the morning of 20 December, before Coats gave his sermon, but it was not until he was preached that RCMP officers showed up to give him the ticket.

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Large crowds gather at the Gresliffe Church to protest the shutdown

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Kitchen says public-health orders to stop the spread of COVID-19 have violated the clergy’s charter rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and worship.

Kitchen is a lawyer with the Justice Center for Constitutional Freedom, an advocacy group that represents Coats.

© 2021 Canadian Press


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