Canadian Pastor James Coates to be Released from Prison After Prosecutors Agree to Withdraw Charge

Pastor James Coates: Screenshot of GraceLife Church video. PST

An Edmonton-area pastor accused of violating COVID-19 health restrictions will likely be released from jail this week after prosecutors agreed to withdraw one of the charges against him, his lawyers say.

On Wednesday, the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) issued a news release claiming a win in the case of GraceLife Church Pastor James Coates, who has been jailed since mid-February after being charged with breaches of the Public Health Act.

Court records show none of the charges have been formally withdrawn. JCCF president John Carpay said the JCCF issued the release after the Crown agreed to a joint submission, which has yet to be formally accepted by a judge.That submission, as Carpay described it, would see one of two Public Health Act charges Coates faced withdrawn. The other count is slated for trial in May. A single criminal charge of failing to comply with an undertaking would be resolved with a $100 fine, Carpay said.

“I hope that the courage displayed by Pastor James Coates will be emulated by many, many people,” Carpay said in an interview. “I hope that people will recognize that it’s the Charter that is the supreme law of the land — not Jason Kenney, not Deena Hinshaw, not the police force.”

GraceLife has been accused of repeatedly holding services without capacity restrictions, social distancing or face coverings, in violation of COVID-19 health restrictions.

Coates was eventually charged under the Public Health Act but continued to hold services, in violation of his bail conditions (Coates maintains he did not agree to the condition, which required he not hold in-person worship services).

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SOURCE: Edmonton Journal, Jonny Wakefield