Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church appeals his bail conditions In Edmonton on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church appeals his bail conditions In Edmonton on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Group representing Alberta pastor jailed for breaking COVID-19 rules says he’s being released

A public health prosecutor argued that the pastor’s release would be a danger to the public

A group that supports an Alberta pastor jailed after being charged with violating COVID-19 public-health orders says it expects him to be released in the coming days.

Crown prosecutors have dropped all but one charge against James Coates and have agreed to his release without bail conditions, the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms said Wednesday

In an email, Alberta Crown Prosecution Service said it was not appropriate for prosecutors to comment on an ongoing case.

Coates, who preaches at GraceLife Church west of Edmonton, has been in jail for a month for allegedly holding services that violated public health rules on the size of gatherings.

Jay Cameron, a lawyer with the Justice Center, said two RCMP officers met with Coates after a service Feb. 7 and imposed a condition on the pastor that he only hold church services that followed public-health orders.

Coates refused to follow the condition, said Cameron, who added the RCMP should have taken the pastor before a justice of the peace but instead left the church.

“Instead he was released on not a valid undertaking because he never gave one. And now that charge has been withdrawn and we think that’s correct,” Cameron said.

After he was charged, Coates was jailed when he continued to hold services in defiance of a bail order not to do so. In early March, his lawyers appealed with the argument that it would go against the pastor’s conscience before God not to lead worshippers.

A public health prosecutor argued that the pastor’s release would be a danger to the public.

The judge ruled that Coates remain behind bars until his trial in May.

“The condition that Pastor Coates effectively stop doing his job as a pastor by adhering to unscientific and unconstitutional public health restrictions should never have been imposed on him by the RCMP, or by the court,” Justice Centre president John Carpay said in a news release Wednesday.

“We look forward to appearing in court in May and demanding the government provide evidence that public health restrictions that violate the freedoms of religion, peaceful assembly, expression and association are scientific and are justifiable in a free and democratic country.”

GraceLife has continued to hold weekend services while Coates has been in jail. Last week, the church itself was charged.

Coates had been addressing the province’s health restrictions in his sermons. He told worshippers that governments exist as instruments of God and there should be unfettered freedom of worship.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. Cattlemen’s Association general manager Kevin Boon. (B.C. Cattlemen’s Association photo)
COVID, BSE, water access and private land rights: B.C. Cattlemen’s general manager weighs in

Kevin Boon said positive aspect of pandemic is more people interested in where their food comes from

B.C's COVID-19 dashboard shows the peaks and valleys of cases prior to the record daily report of 132 on April 9, 2021. (Dashboard image)
Interior Health has record day of COVID-19 cases

132 cases reported Friday, April 9, more deaths in Vernon hospital outbreak

The BC Wildfire Service will be partnering with Simpcw First Nation this month in the implementation of a prescribed burn next to their community of Chu Chua. The controlled burn will be highly visible to Highway 5 and all communities in the immediate area. Pictured is a prescribed burn that took place on the Kanaka Bar Reserve last month in partnership with the Kanaka Bar Band and BC Wildfire Service. (BC Wildfire Service Facebook photo)
Simpcw and BC Wildfire Service to hold controlled burn near Barriere

Burn will be highly visible to Chu Chua, Barriere, Darfield, Chinook Cove, Little Fort and Highway 5

District of Clearwater meetings are open to the public. The meeting agendas and past meetings minutes can be viewed on the DOC's website. Every meeting has time allocated at the end for comments from the public.
Clearwater to benefit from funding through Ministry of Tourism initiative

The District’s Trails Task Force was sucessful in securing a grant for $684,000.

Carlos Sigurnjak went missing about 4 p.m. on Tuesday, April 6, according to a Facebook post by his family. (Facebook/Carlos Sigurnjak profile)
UPDATE: Clearwater RCMP find missing man from Kelowna

Sigurnjak was found just before 2 p.m. April 8 by a passerby.

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

—Image: contributed
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians says that includes attempts to steal Canadian research on COVID-19 and vaccines, and sow misinformation. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
Intelligence committee warns China, Russia targeting Canadian COVID-19 research

Committee also found that the terrorist threat to Canada has shifted since its last such assessment

Part of the massive mess left behind in a Spallumcheen rental home owned by Wes Burden, whose tenants bolted from the property in the middle of the night. Burden is now facing a hefty cleaning and repair bill as a result. (Photo submitted)
Tenants disappear in the night leaving Okanagan home trashed with junk, feces

Spallumcheen rental rooms filled with junk, human and animal feces; landlord scared to rent again

Parliament Hill is viewed below a Canada flag in Gatineau, Quebec, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. A new poll suggests most Canadians are feeling more grateful for what they have in 2020 as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions increased slightly in 2019: report

2019 report shows Canada emitted about one million tonnes more of these gases than the previous year

Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to register people ages 40+ for COVID-19 vaccines in April

Appointments are currently being booked for people ages 66 and up

Most Read