BREAKING: Jailed Canadian Pastor to officially walk from jail this afternoon after paying $1500 fine as ‘time served’
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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.
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]
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