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EDMONTON, Alberta, March 22, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – Canadian pastor James Coates, who has been in jail for well over a month for holding church services amid COVID lockdowns, will be a free man this afternoon after a $1,500 fine was paid “as time served.”
“Pastor Coates is being released. My understanding is that the $1500 fine is counted as paid already, because of the time served,” Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) lawyer Jay Cameron told LifeSiteNews.
Coates, pastor of Grace Life Church in Spruce Grove, Alberta, appeared virtually along with his legal team from the JCCF, before an Alberta provincial court judge today in Stony Plain, Alberta today.
Last Wednesday, the JCCF announced that Coates will soon be released from prison. His legal team also announced at the time that Crown prosecutors agreed to drop most of the charges leveled against him.
Cameron confirmed with LifeSiteNews that Coates will be released this afternoon, but said that the JCCF is disappointed with some of the judge’s comments regarding Coates.
“Our office is looking at the judge’s comments which we are disappointed in, regarding how he (Coates) was an endangerment to the community, and that he was acting irresponsibly somehow,” Cameron told LifeSiteNews.
“Pastor Coates has exercised his constitutional right to assemble and to worship, we’re disappointed that the judge made comments to the effect that these rights are not of fundamental importance under the current (COVID health restrictions) circumstances.”
Cameron told LifeSiteNews that the “Constitution is not suspended simply because of COVID, it remains in full force and effect, and the government of Alberta has yet to justify its lockdown measures, all of which are subject to a constitutional challenge.”
The JCCF is currently suing the Alberta government for its COVID lockdown measures and is also representing many individuals in separate cases Canada-wide as well.
Coates has been in jail since February 16 for defying local COVID orders in Alberta, after refusing to agree to bail conditions which block his release unless he agrees to not hold church services amid severe lockdowns.
The JCCF and crown prosecutors agreed that Coates can be “released without conditions,” and withdrew all but one of his Public Health Act charges. Coates is to appear at trial from May 3 to 5 for this last remaining charge.
PETITION UPDATE (3/22/2021)
Pastor James Coates has been freed!
The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, the legal counsel which has been representing Pastor Coates, just issued a statement saying that Alberta's Crown Prosecutors have decided to drop all but one charge against Pastor Coates, paving the way for him to be released soon.
This is a great victory, God be praised!
Please READ LifeSiteNews' latest article on this latest and unexpected turn of events for Pastor Coates.
While Pastor Coates will still have to stand trial for the one remaining charge in May, he will at least be free to prepare for the hearings, and to celebrate Easter with his family and congregation.
Thank you for taking part in this campaign advocating for Pastor Coates' release!
Of course, with a trial still pending, he's not out of the woods, yet. But, this is a gigantic step in the right direction.
During his trial, we will keep you updated as to his status and we will continue to support Pastor Coates.
We will also keep fighting to ensure that Canadian people of faith like him are never persecuted for exercising their right to worship freely.
Until the trial finishes, please continue to SIGN and SHARE this petition in solidarity with Pastor Coates. Thank you!
PETITION UPDATE (2/24/2021) -
There have been two important, recent updates to the ongoing imprisonment of Pastor James Coates in Alberta, Canada.
First, Alberta's Premier, Jason Kenney has spoken out about Pastor Coates' incarceration.
Please READ LifeSiteNews' article about Premier Kenney's intervention, here: https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/alberta-premier-who-jailed-christian-pastor-claims-he-is-protecting-fundamental-freedoms-of-religion
And second, Pastor Coates' wife addressed a crowd of supporters at the jail in which her husband is being held, saying in part:
"People keep asking us what can you do for us? Open your churches. Open your churches! Take a stand for the Lord Jesus Christ and take a stand for the people! Love them, open the doors, that’s what we need to do right now."
To read about Mrs. Coates visit to see her husband at the Edmonton Remand Center and her full remarks, please CLICK on the following news article from LifeSiteNews: https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/wife-of-jailed-candadian-pastor-tells-supporters-the-best-way-to-protest-is-to-open-your-churches
Then, please SIGN and SHARE this important petition. Thank you!
Pastor James Coates of Grace Life Church in Alberta, Canada has been ARRESTED for refusing to comply with extreme and likely unconstitutional government Covid regulations that ban people from gathering to worship in their church of choice.
You read that right: Even churches aren’t exempt from Trudeau Liberals’ all-out attack on peoples' freedoms in the wake of this pandemic.
But, Pastor Coates needs to be released immediately, and MPs must take steps to rein-in the extreme Covid regulations which provincial governments are using as an excuse to trample on essential freedoms.
Please SIGN and SHARE this petition and STAND WITH PASTOR COATES.
Send a strong message to Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau and Justice Minister Lametti, as well as to all Members of Parliament and to Canadian Provincial Premiers, that this CANNOT stand.
Some government officials are hoping to make examples out of faith leaders like Pastor Coates, who refuse to comply with unreasonable government demands to close-off places of worship to their own congregations.
That's why he remains in custody to this day.
But, no Canadian should ever face jail time for exercising their God-given, Charter-guaranteed rights, and action MUST be taken.
Please SIGN and SHARE this urgent petition.
NB: YOU DO NOT NEED TO BE FROM CANADA TO SIGN THIS PETITION.
Pastor Coates, who leads Grace Life Church in Edmonton, Alberta, originally suspended in-person services and church gatherings in good faith and out of concern for his congregants after Trudeau’s government first introduced Covid restrictions last spring.
However, the church reopened over the summer when it became clear that Trudeau’s shutdowns were here to stay, and that congregants would be indefinitely limited in their worship size or again banned from in-person worship altogether under their guidelines.
After Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, enacted new restrictions in November that cap all faith-based gatherings at 15% of building capacity (a major blow to churches that wish to resume worship for their members), Pastor Coates kept Grace Life’s doors open to anyone and everyone who wished to proceed with normal practice of their faith.
However, this simple exercising of congregants’ Charter rights was met not only with governmental resistance, but an unreasonably disproportionate legal response.
Pastor Coates was arrested and then quickly released on February 7th for practicing his faith alongside congregants, and arrested AGAIN on February 16th for the same reason.
Pastor Coates remains in custody today for refusing to allow Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and his health officer Deena Hinshaw to infringe upon his congregants’ civil liberties any further.
Please SIGN and SHARE this petition which calls for the release of Pastor Coates, and asks Canada's MPs to take action to ensure that Canadian people of faith, like him, are NEVER persecuted for exercising their right to worship freely.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
'Alberta govt jails pastor for holding COVID-non-compliant worship services' -
JCCF president John Carpay told LifeSiteNews last week that both the Crown and defense agreed on submitting a “joint crown defense submission,” with a $100 fine.
“Prosecutors have also agreed to withdraw the criminal charge in connection with the condition imposed by RCMP on February 7, and instead have charged Pastor Coates $100 for breaching the condition, which Pastor Coates has agreed to pay,” said the JCCF.
However, earlier in the day in court according to the Western Standard, the judge made known that he was not sure if the $100 fine was enough and decided to increase the amount.
According to a Western Standard report about today’s court proceedings, Coates told the judge he was “not a political revolutionary.”
Current Alberta COVID rules state that churches and other places of worship can operate at no more than 15 percent of the capacity allowed by the building fire code, however these rules could be changed today. Masks are mandatory, as are the sanitation of hands and keeping away from other people.
JCCF president John Carpay told LifeSiteNews last week that it was through back-and-forth negotiations with the Crown prosecutor that an agreement was made to get Coates out of jail, without him having to promise to abide by “unscientific and unconstitutional health orders” which “violate” his freedom of conscience and religion.
Last week, Coates’ wife Erin spoke out passionately about her husband’s ordeal in an appearance with Fox News host Tucker Carlson, saying it “really should be shocking to people” that a Christian pastor is behind bars.
Carpay also told LifeSiteNews that although elected officials should not get involved in deciding who is or is not prosecuted, there could have been some “sympathy” from someone inside the government in getting Coates released this coming Monday.
“But the way things are supposed to run in a democracy is that elected politicians are not involved in choices of prosecuting or not … But it would be a safe bet to say that they had … some interest in or some sympathy in getting Pastor Coates out of jail. Obviously, if they had had no interest in that, they wouldn’t have negotiated anything,” Carpay told LifeSiteNews.
Since the jailing of Coates, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and his United Conservative Party (UCP) government have come under increased fire from many who oppose lockdowns, including some MLAs within his party base, such as MLA Drew Barnes of Medicine Hat.
Recently, Kenney’s provincial government allowed retail businesses an increase in occupancy limits but offered no such increase to churches, which remain capped at 15 percent.
A recently published LifeSiteNews report details how according to a source with inside knowledge of Kenney’s UCP, the provincial leader has placed a gag order on his caucus members, preventing them from voicing their opposition to COVID lockdowns.
Premier of Alberta Jason Kenney
Office of the Premier
307 Legislature Building
10800 – 97 Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta T5K 2B6
Email: [email protected]
To contact your local MLA, visit the link below.: