The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms has announced that they will represent several Ontario pastors and church elders charged for contravening the Reopening Ontario Act by holding religious services.
According to the JCCF's press release,
The Justice Centre will contest the charges on the basis that the Act violates the Charter rights of Ontario citizens to peacefully assemble for worship, among other grounds for challenge.
The numerous defendants include Pastor Aaron Rock and Pastor Henry Hildebrandt.
Pastor Rev. Dr. Aaron Rock of Harvest Bible Church was charged for holding services in December, and the local Windsor Police Service informed him that his congregation would be barred from entering their church on Christmas Eve.
Pastor Hildebrandt's drive-in services at the Church of God attracted fines from the Aylmer Police Service.
Commenting on the need to defend these religious leaders, the JCCF said:
The Justice Centre has produced numerous reports on the harms of lockdowns to Canadians, including the ongoing infringement of civil liberties. “Many people scoff at those who believe that defending civil liberties is especially critical during government-declared emergencies, as though they are somehow selfish and short-sighted,” says [Justice Centre staff lawyer Lisa Bildy].
“In fact, it is only through the vigilance and courage of people like these church leaders that we have any hope of remaining a free society. History is replete with examples of authoritarianism being ushered in by a fearful public, and fanning the flames of that fear is a common tactic of such regimes.”
During public health emergencies, “reasonable restrictions may be imposed, but governments are required to violate Charter rights and freedoms as little as possible, only to the extent necessary to protect public health.”