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Appeal for Pastor Coates' release from prison set for March 4, 2021

EDMONTON: The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms will be in court on Thursday, March 4 at 1:00 PM for the appeal of the bail conditions placed on Pastor James Coates of Grace Life Church. The appeal hearing had previously been scheduled for Wednesday March 3.

Pastor Coates has been in custody at the Edmonton Remand Centre since February 16, where he remains today after he refused to sign a bail condition to comply with provincial health orders that violate his Charter freedoms of conscience, religion, association and peaceful assembly.

The Justice Centre filed an appeal in the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, to seek the release of Pastor Coates from jail prior to a trial date set for May 3-5, 2021, in Alberta Provincial Court in Stony Plain. Erin Coates, wife of the jailed pastor, has sworn an affidavit setting out the negative impact of her husband’s imprisonment on herself, her children, and members of the community.

Members of the media and the public who wish to view the Edmonton Court of Queen’s Bench hearing remotely should contact the court directly to request to attend.

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. The letter asks Premier Kenney to cease allowing Dr. Deena Hinshaw to violate Charter freedoms by way of unconstitutional health orders that are not reviewed by, or approved by, the elected Members of the Legislative Assembly.

“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,” states lawyer John Carpay, president of the Justice Centre, which represents Pastor Coates.

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 Carpay.

“The most that Alberta Health Services has done with others who did not comply with unconstitutional health orders was to obtain a Court of Queen’s Bench order against that individual, without attempting to go further and try to jail anyone. The police didn’t arrest Chris Scott, the courageous owner of the Whistle Stop Café in Mirror, Alberta. Why is the Alberta government singling out pastors for jail?"

"Pastor Coates has not committed any crime, and there is no scientific basis for making regular church services illegal," concludes Carpay.

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