Several pastors and the owner of the Whistle Stop Café have been acquitted of public health charges related to violating Alberta’s Covid-19 rules and lockdown orders or have had their charges dropped.
According to The Democracy Fund, Whistle Stop owner Chris Scott was acquitted of seven violations after he refused to close his restaurant at the height of the pandemic. Scott was facing charges under the Public Health Act and the Gaming Liquor and Cannabis Act.
Lawyers defending Scott cited a recent decision that found public health orders were made outside of the Public Health Act’s jurisdiction due to the fact that politicians had the final say and not public health officials.
“Scott may have been convicted if he had a less tenacious legal team,” said TDF’s litigation director Alan Honner.
“The delay caused by Scott’s disclosure application ultimately gave the defence the benefit of the Ingram decision, which led to Scott’s acquittal.”
Scott isn’t the only one to be vindicated due to the decision known as the Ingram v. Alberta case.
GraceLife Church pastor James Coates was acquitted of all charges related to his decision to continue offering worship services while churches were ordered to close their doors.
“Pastor James Coates and GraceLife Church endured a great deal of vilification and abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic. This was meted out by the media, the Kenney government, Alberta Health Services, the RCMP, many Albertans, and even the Alberta Courts,” said Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) lawyer Leighton Grey.
Coates was facing a possible jail sentence for allegedly violating public health orders. The Alberta Crown is also expected to withdraw remaining Covid tickets and could potentially reimburse fines paid by Coates.
Another case involving Fairview Baptist Church pastor Timothy Stephens also saw all charges withdrawn by Crown prosecutors.
“The Justice Centre is pleased to have been able to ensure that legal representation was provided to Pastor Tim Stephens, Pastor James Coates, Ty Northcott, and so many other courageous citizens who appropriately exercised their Charter rights and freedoms even when these were being unjustifiably violated by governments, from March of 2020 onwards,” said JCCF president John Carpay.