A lawyer for the pastor of the GraceLife church in Alberta accused of violating COVID-19 rules argued Tuesday that the province’s health agency decided to penalize the church leader as a way to censor him.
James Kitchen has told the trial of James Coates that his client was charged the same day he preached a sermon criticizing the province’s leadership on the pandemic. Coates was ticketed in December under the Public Health Act after health inspectors said he held services that ignored capacity limits, physical distancing and masking. In closing arguments of the first phase of Coates’ trial, his lawyers said his ticket violated the pastor’s rights to freedom of religion, expression, assembly and association.
The church has been fenced off and guarded by 24-hour security for nearly a month, after Alberta Health Services ordered it physically closed. Fletcher Kent has more on Tuesday’s proceedings.
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