EDMONTON: The Justice Centre today announced it is appealing the bail condition that has left Pastor James Coates of Grace Life Church in prison at the Edmonton Remand Centre since February 16, 2021. At a brief appearance before a Judge earlier today, a three-day trial was scheduled for May 3-5 in Provincial Court in Stony Plain, more than eight weeks from today.
Documents will be filed in the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench by this Friday, February 26, to seek Pastor Coates’ release before trial, such that he does not spend the next eight weeks in jail. Pastor Coates has been detained at the Edmonton Remand Centre since Tuesday, February 16.
“Charter freedoms do not disappear because the government declares regular Church services to be outlawed while allowing hundreds of people to fill their local Walmarts,” notes Justice Centre President, lawyer John Carpay.
“Pastor Coates is not a criminal. He held church services and should not spend the next eight or more weeks in jail when he has not committed any crime,” continues Mr. Carpay.
The Justice Centre has sent a letter to Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, challenging him to assume responsibility for protecting the Charter rights and freedoms of Albertans and cease allowing Dr. Deena Hinshaw to violate them with health orders that are not reviewed by, or approved by, the elected Members of the Legislative Assembly.
“Ironically,” points out Mr. Carpay, “it was Jason Kenney, then federal Immigration Minister, who stood at the side of Stephen Harper in February 2013, as the Government announced the creation of the Office of Religious Freedom, to promote freedom of religion around the world. But apparently not in Alberta.”
“A trial set eight weeks down the road is too long for an innocent Pastor to be in jail. Pastor Coates is a peaceful Christian minister. The Justice of the Peace should not have required him to violate his conscience and effectively stop pastoring his church as a condition to be released. This is a miscarriage of justice,” concludes Mr. Carpay.