After first refusing to sign bail conditions on Monday forcing him to adhere to public health restrictions that would limit his congregation to 15 people, force them into masks and social distance, Pastor Tim Stephens has agreed to a second set of conditions on Tuesday after a second bail hearing, allowing for his release from the Calgary Remand Centre.
Stephens has been in custody since Sunday. He was arrested by Calgary police at his Fairview Baptist Church after services in front of his wife and 8 children, aged 5 months to 12 years.
Stephens was arrested under a May 6 order obtained by Alberta Health Services prohibiting organizing, attending or promoting public gatherings that do not conform to current health restrictions.
According to the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms press release on the news:
The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms was in court again today on behalf of Calgary pastor Tim Stephens, in jail since Sunday May 16. Alberta Health Services (AHS) has sought to keep Pastor Stephens in jail until he agrees to consent to the violation of his Charter rights and freedoms by Alberta’s public health orders.
Pastor Stephens was arrested after leading a church service on Sunday, May 16, on the basis of a May 6 injunction issued against Whistle Stop Café in Mirror, Alberta, and certain affiliated individuals.
Pastor Stephens has no connection to Whistle Stop Café.
“The May 6 injunction does not apply to Pastor Stephens, nor did it apply to him at the time of his arrest. His arrest and current detention are illegal,” states lawyer John Carpay, President of the Justice Centre.
“Alberta Health Services knows that the May 6 injunction, which originally applied to all Albertans having notice of this injunction, was amended by Associate Chief Justice Rooke on May 13. Since then, this injunction has applied only to Whistle Stop Café and certain named or affiliated individuals,” continues Carpay.
In a hearing before Justice Adam Germain of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench earlier today, lawyers for AHS and for Pastor Stephens agreed to the release of Pastor Stephens on condition that he abide by the terms of the May 6 injunction of Justice Rooke, as amended. The terms may be varied on one day’s notice. Further developments are expected to be announced.
Stephens is back in court June 16.