A judge has begrudgingly agreed to accept the joint submission between the Crown prosecutors and James Coates’ defense team, while adding another fine of $1500 for good measure. This ensures the Edmonton-based Gracelife Church pastor is able to leave the prison without having to agree to the previous conditions that were on his release, including not stepping foot on church property. He is expected to be on this side of the bars in a matter of hours.
Provincial Judge Jeffrey Champion initially balked at the small fine being paid, declaring it unacceptable and saying it wouldn’t be viewed by the average person as a legitimate deterrent. For this reason, he denied the 100$ fine and instead imposed a $1,500 fine against him, saying in an exasperated voice. “Your decision could have been of danger to the health and safety of those in the community.” and chiding him for being a bad pastor, saying “The shepherd ought to protect his flock”
Nontheless, the judge also told Coates that his time spent in custody would count as the entire fine, meaning he doesn’t have to pay anything.
James will shortly walk out after spending 35 days in a maximum-security prison for the crime of ultimately insisting that Christ is the head of the church who determines what His worship looks like, not the government.
During the hearing, Coates spoke before the court, saying:
The court is aware that I am contesting the legitimacy of that law and so I think that my position is pretty clear, but please make no mistake, this is not a statement that I’m making to society, I’m not trying to make a point, I’m not a political revolutionary. I have a responsibility before God to Shepard the people entrusted to me. I have a responsibility to be obedient to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and it’s simply that obedience that has me here in this place.
While James is free and will be rejoining his family and church very shortly, he will still have to appear for his May 3rd trial, the result of refusing to please guilty to one of the lesser charges that were not dropped. This is by design.
The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms and Coates are refusing to plead guilty so that they can force a trial. The nature of his trial will be unique, as it won’t so much be Coates on trial, but rather the government’s health orders instead. Here, they will determine whether or not the government violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (contained in The Canadian Constitution).
This would essentially force the provincial government to provide scientific evidence in open court that justifies their health orders and lockdowns, where up to this point they have just been deciding by divine fiat without providing the data.
In particular, they expect to be cross-examining the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, who for the first time since the pandemic began, will be forced to answer some tough questions under oath. This will surely be a change for her, as so far up this point all the questions asked to her over the last 12 months have been softballs lobbed by a pro-lockdown media in a very friendly setting. No longer.
While the win in Alberta would not be binding across any other province, it would be persuasive and have other courts take notice, along with emboldening other pastors to take similar stands and force the issue.
Let the saints rejoice today!
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