When the buck stops, Kenney is responsible for the pastor thrown in jail

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When the buck stops, Kenney is responsible for the pastor thrown in jail

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John Carpay, Western Standard

While Pastor James Coates was locked up in an Alberta prison, Premier Jason Kenney posted this on Facebook: “Best wishes to Christians across Alberta and around the world as they begin the penitential season of Lent on this Ash Wednesday.”

Like most people, Pastor Coates and his Grace Life Church near Edmonton were very concerned about the Covid-19 virus back in March of 2020, when Neil Ferguson of Imperial College frightened the whole world with his wildly inaccurate predictions. Governments blindly accepted Professor Ferguson’s fearmongering about Covid-19 being an unusually deadly killer that we should all be (very) afraid of. Ignoring their own data and statistics, governments continue to base public policy on the fears of March 2020, rather than the facts of February 2021.

Pastor Coates is following the science. Jason Kenney is not.

Statistics Canada data to mid-October 2020 tell us that, while overall death rates in Canada increased in the first three quarters of 2020, death rates have also been increasing over time as our population ages. Increases in death rates in 2020 for people over 85 are comparable to the last three to four years. We know that Covid-19 threatens primarily seniors in long-term care homes who are already dying of cancer, emphysema, heart disease and other serious illnesses. Death rates among men and women in the 65-84 age group are lower or comparable to previous years. That is not what you would expect from an unusually deadly killer, is it?

Covid-19 poses no significant threat to children, youth, young adults and about 90% of the population, who have a greater chance of dying in a car accident. Remarkably, death rates in Canada for those aged 44 and under increased significantly in 2020, especially among men. Covid-19 is not a factor here, so what is leading to these deaths?

I understand that Premier Kenney did not personally order Pastor Coates to be arrested and imprisoned, and that the premier cannot personally release the pastor. But it’s because of Jason Kenney’s unconstitutional laws that Pastor Coates is in jail today, and for no other reason.

Responding to the public outcry over Alberta jailing a pastor, Premier Kenney stated: “So I want to be absolutely clear: Alberta’s government will always respect and protect the fundamental freedoms of religion and worship, period.”

That is, except when pastors are put in jail for refusing to comply with unscientific health orders.

Premier Kenney’s response is like Prime Minister Trudeau’s response to Canadians now being forcibly locked up in hotels for three days upon returning home.

“We are not detaining people; these are public health measures”.

Both Messrs. Trudeau and Kenney cite “public health” as their rationale for violating our Charter freedoms of conscience, religion, association, expression and peaceful assembly. But political claims don’t change the reality that fear of Covid-19 is exaggerated and not grounded in facts.

After making the deceptive claim that “Alberta’s government will always respect and protect the fundamental freedoms of religion and worship, period”, Mr. Kenney predictably points out that other regimes are worse than his. That is not a strong defence.

What Mr. Kenney describes as “safe and reasonable guidelines” are joy-killing, coercive laws that force people into isolation and loneliness by banning the necessary social interactions that we need for our physical, mental, spiritual and financial well-being. Lockdowns (whether full or partial) produce anxiety, stress and depression even amongst those who have not been pushed into unemployment, poverty and despair.

There is nothing “safe” about cancelling medically necessary surgeries, like the pace-maker surgery needed by Jerry Dunham, who was killed by lockdowns – not by Covid. There is nothing “reasonable” about forcing businesses into bankruptcy, often destroying the life savings of honest, hard-working people. There is nothing “safe” about taking away sports, recreation, social interactions and recreational pursuits from children and adults, forcing millions to experience life primarily through a two-dimensional computer screen.

Mere “guidelines” are not enforced with $1,000 fines and imprisonment, if one cares about honesty when using the English language. These are coercive laws, not “guidelines.” Moreover, none of these laws have been approved by a vote of the members of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta; instead, laws are announced on the fly at press conferences and imposed on us by the Kenney-Hinshaw duo, contrary to the constitutional requirement that democratic law-making be carried out by the legislature.

These “guidelines,” claims Mr. Kenney, are “necessary to protect the vulnerable from this deadly pandemic.” But the coercive laws that violate the Charter rights and freedoms of an entire population have obviously and miserably failed to protect seniors in nursing homes, who make up about 80 per cent of Covid-19 deaths. Mr. Kenney has yet to provide any persuasive evidence that further destroying an already-weak Alberta economy has “protected” anyone. The “deadly pandemic” has had little if any impact on life expectancy in Alberta or other provinces, according to government statistics.

Next, Mr. Kenney sets up and then demolishes a “straw dummy” of his own invention: “The suggestion that Alberta has any restriction on preaching is completely false. Under Alberta law, no one has been or will be fined or sanctioned for preaching.”

Who said anything about a ban on preaching? Pastor Coates is in jail for exercising his Charter freedoms (which consist of more than just “preaching”) in the face of irrational, destructive, unscientific and undemocratic health orders.

Mr. Kenney claims that public health measures are “designed to save lives.” But his government exercises willful blindness when it comes to lockdown harms. For example, his government is making no effort to study, or to report to the public about, the number of Albertans like Jerry Dunham who died after their medically necessary surgeries were cancelled. Nor does Mr. Kenney’s government want to know how many Albertans now have late-stage cancer because their diagnostic exams or surgeries were delayed by lockdowns. You cannot honestly claim to care about “saving lives” while refusing to take a hard and comprehensive look at all lockdown harms, and the specific nature and extent of each kind of lockdown harm. But the Alberta government, despite its abundant resources, is not researching, tracking, monitoring or publicizing information on lockdown harms.

Mr. Kenney claims that lockdowns are “designed to protect our hospitals,” but ignores the fact that hospitals have been over-crowded for many years. Pretending that insufficient hospital and ICU capacity are caused by Covid-19 is intellectually dishonest. Further, the government has now had eleven months to increase hospital capacity; why has it not done so? The financial cost of increasing hospital capacity would have been a fraction of the cost of throwing tens of thousands of Albertans into unemployment: these people no longer work and no longer pay taxes.

Mr. Kenney raises “the sanctity of human life” without considering how many people have been killed and harmed by lockdowns, and without providing any evidence to support his thesis that lockdowns do more good than harm. He suggests that lockdown opponents don’t care about the sanctity of human life, which is false.

Mr. Kenney claims that “we all share a responsibility to protect the weak,” but apparently such protection should not extend to the weaker Albertans who lack the physical, mental and emotional health that is required to deal with unemployment, poverty, loneliness, isolation, anxiety, depression and stress. More Albertans die from drug overdoses than from Covid-19.

Ignoring science, Mr. Kenney reiterates his belief that asymptomatic people are significant spreaders of Covid. I’ve asked the Alberta government repeatedly to provide the public with scientific evidence to support the government’s thesis that healthy people spread this virus. None has been presented to date.

Pastor Coates is following his conscience as well as science. Jason Kenney used to care about the former, and is not following the latter.


The Justice Centre represents Grace Life Church and Pastor James Coates.

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