A pastor in Brantford, Ontario was being charged under the Re-Opening Ontario Act for allegedly exceeding the in-person gathering limit while conducting drive-in church services.
Pastor R. was being represented by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms who issued a press release stating that all charges had been dropped as of January 16, 2023.
“In April 2021, the Ontario government imposed restrictions on gatherings in response to Covid-19 cases. The restrictions made exceptions for drive-in religious services. Pastor R. led his congregation in drive-in services during this period,” the release reads.
When police came to Pastor R.’s home to issue him the fine, they arbitrarily disagreed that he was in compliance with government-imposed gathering restrictions.
The statement reinforces this adherence:
“Pastor R. complied with all Covid-19 restrictions. He ensured that the church adhered to social distancing, hand sanitizing, masking, and capacity restrictions. Pastor R. continued to comply with the regulations and implemented public health guidelines while conducting drive-in services.”
At the time of Pastor R.’s fines, Ontario COVID restrictions changed so frequently and rapidly that many had a difficult time keeping up with the state controls, including police.
Due to the fact that it took 18 months for Pastor R. to be issued a pre-trial negotiation, coupled with the fact that no disclosure had been received by that date, it was argued that this was an unreasonable delay.
Pastor R. is known for his charitable work including running a soup kitchen that feeds the homeless, organizing addiction outreach and support, and assisting at-risk youth with a sense of community.