WINDSOR, ONTARIO: The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is pleased to announce that charges against Pastor Aaron Rock were withdrawn at the request of the prosecuting Crown Attorney in Windsor on February 6, 2023. Pastor Rock was facing another charge in Stratford, Ontario which was withdrawn at the request of the Crown on February 16, 2023. In both jurisdictions Pastor Rock was charged under the Re-opening Ontario Act (ROA).
In December 2020, the Ontario government implemented a series of restrictive measures which purported to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Government’s Order made under the ROA banned any religious gathering of more than 10 people. Aaron Rock is the lead pastor of a Christian Church in Windsor, Ontario. He was alleged to have breached the Order by hosting a Christian worship service that exceeded 10 people.
The primary evidence presented by the Crown was a video recording filmed outside of Pastor Rock’s Church. The video showed some individuals leaving the building, but these individuals were not identified or charged with any offence. Pastor Rock did not appear on the recording. The Crown agreed with defence counsel that there was insufficient evidence to prove the alleged breach of the ROA and withdrew both charges.
In Stratford, Pastor Rock was alleged to have spoken at a public gathering, the purpose of which was to protest Ontario’s COVID19 response. On that charge, Pastor Rock entered into a Diversion Agreement where he voluntarily made a modest charitable donation. The charge was then withdrawn with no admission of guilt.
Pastor Rock’s lawyer, Christopher Fleury, says that “he is pleased to see that Crown Attorneys across the Province are taking a more reasonable and practical approach to prosecuting these types of offences. There is at least some tacit acknowledgement among Crowns that the public interest in continuing to prosecute ROA breaches is minimal to non-existent.” Mr. Fleury also added that “his client is satisfied with the outcome of these charges and will continue to fight one remaining charge in a third jurisdiction.”