DAY TWO: Pastor James Coates on trial for violating public health orders

DAY TWO: Pastor James Coates on trial for violating public health orders
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DAY ONE: Pastor Coates on trial for violating public health orders

Rebel News reporter Sheila Gunn Reid is watching and live-tweeting the second day the trial of Pastor James Coates, who allegedly violated public health orders by not limiting his GraceLife Church congregation.

Coates is represented by Leighton Grey and James Kitchen of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.

Here's what Sheila is live-tweeting now:

(11:28 AM ET / 9:28 AM MT) Headed into day 2 of court for the Pastor James Coates trial now.

Watch for a video update when Court breaks at lunch.

Lawyer for Coates, Leighton Grey is currently arguing that bail conditions which demanded Coates forsake his section 2.A charter rights violated his right to liberty

(He's doing this to try to get a bail hearing transcript admitted into evidence as part of a Charter application)

Crown is arguing that the matter at trial is for a Dec 20 offence (the ticket) and that offence the hearing involved has since been
resolved with a guilty plea, making the transcript of the "show cause" hearing irrelevant.

Judge is ruling against crown, allowing the transcript

Grey is looking to call Dr Stephen Cobbold to offer testimony in his Charter application.

Dr. Cobbold is Prof of Cellular Immunology at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology at Oxford.

"To provide objective scientific support for Coates' beliefs" about threat of coronavirus

Court is adjourned while the lawyers and judge sort some things out.

Court returns.

(12:30 PM ET / 10:30 AM MT) Grey is saying he has [received] advice to not call Dr Cobbold on the charter notice but he may call the Oxford prof at a later time.

JCCF's James Kitchen for Coates is now up on the April 14 charter notice, regarding the violation of Coates freedom of expression charter rights.

Argument is based on the 15% of firecode restriction.

Does the enforcement of restriction infringe on expressive rights?

Kitchen is detailing how the singing, the fellowship after church, the preaching and praying are protected activities

* Kitchen notes the Supreme Court affirmed the protection of not just the expression but the receipt (listening) of the expression as a protected Charter right.

Kitchen argues the restrictions on capacity violate Coates' ability to express to 85% of his congregants.

Same argument applies to 85% of the congregants to listen or be in receipt of the expression.

Kitchen argues the fine issued to Coates is a penalization of the exercise of his protected Charter rights.

Kitchen argues "section 2.b protects in-person, human communication and humans need it and want it and derive more benefit from it"

Do GraceLife congregants have a section 2.b right to sing praises together in person?"

"The answer to that is obvious. Of course they do."

"if you are one of the 85% in the excluded group, you are being denied your section 2.b right to communicate in person within the group"

"the law asks Pastor Coates' to take away the rights of 85% of his congregation.... And if he doesn't then he is penalized for it"

Kitchen: we heard the facts. All through Dec, all through Jan, all through Feb. Ms Hanrahan and the RCMP were there every Sunday.

The ticket was issued Dec 20th only after Pastor Coates preached a sermon critical of the govt. Diff't than the other Sundays when AHS showed up"

Kitchen: we know RCMP are not acting unilaterally. They are under the direction of Alberta Health Services.

Why did Janine Hanrahan direct the RCMP to ticket Coates after he gave a sermon critical of the government? Not after. Not before.

Kitchen: we submit the purpose of the ticket was to infringe on section 2B of the charter. To censor.

(Based on the timing, that it was only issued after the sermon critical of the government)

Next issue. Kitchen is now working on making arguments about Charter violations regarding freedom of assembly. Section 2.C.

Kitchen: case law (re peaceful assembly) indicates it protects the physical gathering together of people

Freedom of assembly protects the rights of people to exercise the right to gather together with others exercising the same right.

Communities of faith are specifically protected, as institutions and as individuals.

Individual and collective rights are complementary here

"Freedom of assembly is different."

"It should independently stand....as essential for civil society"

Kitchen now is driving home the point that it is the history of the Christian church to gather together in person for 2000 years.

Section 2.C protects the ability to practice your other Charter rights (religion/expression etc) collectively together.

Kitchen: this country has a heritage of freedom.

When you physically break up a gathering, the world sees it. The world sees the fences around GraceLife.

We are seeing the violation of section 2C like we are never seeing before.

This violation is at the core of this case.

Kitchen: This court is going to have to wrestle with what 2c means and what it protects because the capacity restrictions limit the physical gathering together of people.... which goes at the core of what section 2C protects.

(It's the purpose of the health restriction)

Kitchen, moves on to new points re section 2.D

Association rights.

"Recognizes the profoundly social nature of human endeavours...Protects against State enforced isolation."

Kitchen, rhetorically: "why would the people at GraceLife put themselves through all of this?"

"It's in service to their Lord"

"But I also submit that they don't want to pray alone, sing hymns alone, be alone"

Kitchen finishes.

Grey is up on the rest of the charter issues shortly.

Lawyer Leighton Grey takes over.

(1:33 PM ET / 11:33 AM MT) Grey begins making submissions on Charter violations re: section 7 and 2A

(when they were on break, I quickly recorded a hit for the Ezra Levant Show tonight, re: Coates trial

Grey is quoting Bonnie Henry, CMOH in BC who acknowledged that infringements on capacity limits in churches violate Charter rights.

Grey on 2A, exciting a case from 2009 regarding a Hutterite colony that refused submitting to photos for their driver's license. Supreme Court ruled in that case govt cannot interfere with 2A

"In a manner that is more than trivial or insubstantial"

This is more than trivial

Grey citing another case from Hamilton in which religious foster parents were told by the children's health authority that they had to teach the children about the Easter Bunny, against their religious beliefs.

Grey: Religion is about both religious beliefs and religious relationships.

Law...must account for the socially embedded nature of religious beliefs, and it's manifestation through communal... institutions

Grey: a truly free society is one that can accommodate a wide variety of beliefs.

...The right to declare religious beliefs without fear of reprisal and to manifest religious beliefs...

Grey: Religion is about both religious beliefs and religious relationships.

Law...must account for the socially embedded nature of religious beliefs, and it's manifestation through communal... institutions

Grey: a truly free society is one that can accommodate a wide variety of beliefs.

...The right to declare religious beliefs without fear of reprisal and to manifest religious beliefs...

Grey: leaving aside issue that the health order is constitutional, the accused has met the balance of probabilities to prove a violation of his Charter rights.

Grey onto section 7 charter violations.

(Life, liberty, security of person)

Grey: Pastor Coates was placed in a position where he had to forsake his conscience rights to secure his liberty.

(This is why Grey wanted the transcript of the bail hearing allowed as evidence this morning)

Grey: it's because Pastor Coates was put in a position where he had to choose between his conscience and his liberty where the section 7 violation occurred.

(Re: the bail conditions requiring him to hold health regulation compliant services)

Grey: we have evidence from Pastor Coates about emotional trauma of being separated from his family and his congregation, and the weight loss he experienced in the Remand... Goes to his right of security of person.

(As in: Coates would have to forsake his conscience for bail)

Grey: this man's detention and the way that it occurred does have an element of arbitrariness to it.

Grey moves on to arguments on Section 24.1, the remedy when the govt stomps all over your rights.

'provides remedies against unconstitutional government action"

Coates lawyers want the case tossed based on the charter rights violation made against Coates.

Grey on 2A, citing a case from 2009 regarding a Hutterite colony that refused submitting to photos for their driver's license. Supreme Court ruled in that case govt cannot interfere with 2A "In a manner that is more than trivial or insubstantial" This is more than trivia

Grey: Dr Hinshaw has been placed in a unique position in Alberta law.

They (health regulations) operate as laws of general application that impact the general, social and public lives of all [Albertans], and they are backed by the force of law.

Court is adjourning.

Court returns.

(4:02 PM ET / 2:02 PM MT) And court is reconvening for James Coates.

Crown is up now to argue that Coates lawyers didn't make the case to prove his rights have been infringed

Crown: Coates must demonstrate that a govt actor did something to infringe his rights and freedoms and that infringement was not trivial.

(Me: He went to jail for 35 days because he wouldn't trade his conscience for his liberty!!!)

Crown: there was no evidence that the content of the sermon led to the ticket.

The ticket was issued because Coates was in violation of the cmoh orders.

"Coates was able to hold many services. Online services"

Judge is asking for Crown submissions about sec 2 charter rights

"I will submit on the evidence before you... that the evidence relates to constitutionality of CMOH orders"

(Which is not what this portion of hearing is about. It's about charter violations inflicted on Coates)

Judge is asking the Crown a lot of questions.

Much different than when Grey and Kitchen were making arguments.

Crown contends: my position is that by Coates being allowed to operate with 15% capacity, he was still able to practice those broad charter rights.

Judge: given the submissions of Mr Kitchen, what is your response?

Crown: they just had to modify their behavior. Go online. Have multiple services. They just chose not to.

Judge: your response to Mr Grey's submission?

(re section 7 that the bail conditions/undertaking resulted in an untenable choice between conscience and liberty)

Crown: Mr Coates chose not to sign that order. Must take responsibility for his decisions....to stay in custody.

Grey: AHS's Hanrahan's order constitutes a govt action which set the whole series of events in motion

(Re charter violations)

Grey: the Crown's insistence that the congregation could have proceeded with limitations sounds to me like an admission by the Crown that there were limits placed on their freedoms

Judge: Were any of charter rights violated? If section 7 rights were violated, is he entitled to any remedies?

Courtroom scheduling back and forth.

Okay that's a wrap. Court is adjourned until June 7th 9:30 in Stony Plain provincial Court where the judge will bring down his decision on the charter arguments made today.

He'll decide if Pastor Coates rights were violated and if so what those remedies are.

You can read Sheila's coverage of the first day here.

More to come...

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