STONY PLAIN, AB: The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is pleased to announce that Pastor James Coates and GraceLife Church have been acquitted of all charges. This follows the consequential Ingram v. Alberta decision, in which Justice Barbara Romaine of the Alberta Court of King’s Bench determined that the Covid health restrictions imposed by the Government of Alberta were invalid.

Pastor Coates and the congregation of GraceLife church had been gathering for worship services throughout 2020 and 2021, exercising their Charter freedoms of religion, conscience, association and peaceful assembly. On February 15, 2021, after holding a church service the previous day, Pastor Coates was arrested by officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) for violating gathering restrictions. When he refused to sign an undertaking promising that he would obey Public Health Orders which unjustifiably violated his Charter freedoms, Pastor Coates was jailed in the Edmonton Remand Centre on February 16, 2021. Counsel for Pastor Coates filed an appeal to have him released before his trial, which had been set for May 3-5, 2021.

On March 22, 2021, after spending 35 days in jail, Pastor Coates was released from jail. At a June 7, 2021 hearing, Judge Robert Shaigec stated that Pastor Coates’ right to liberty had not been violated by his 35-day jailing since he could have complied with the undertaking and could have agreed to observe the Public Health Orders.

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