GraceLife Church files court application seeking immediate return of building and property

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GraceLife Church has applied to the Court of Queen’s Bench seeking the court strike down the COVID-19 public health restrictions and grant the immediate return of the church and property.

On April 7, Alberta Health Services with assistance from the RCMP closed the Parkland County church and put up barricades around the building after repeated violations of COVID-19 public health orders.

The barricades have been in place since and in the meantime, congregants of GraceLife have continued to gather at secret locations, the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, which is representing the church, said in a news release.

Along with GraceLife Church, the applicants in the filing also include the church’s pastor James Coates and three congregants. The respondent named in the filing is the Province of Alberta, represented by the Minister of Health Tyler Shandro, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw and Alberta Health Services.

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“The GraceLife Applicants contend the public health restrictions on worship violate their rights to freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of association, liberty, and security of the person as protected by sections 2 and 7 of the Charter,” the release states.

“In addition to asking the Court to strike down the public health restrictions, the GraceLife Applicants are seeking the immediate return of their building and an order from the court prohibiting law enforcement and government agents from attempting to break up or disrupt worship services.”

The JCCF will also be appealing the June 7 decision of provincial court Judge Robert Shaigec, who dismissed an application from Coates seeking to have the COVID-19 enforcement actions at GraceLife Church deemed unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, dates will also be set for the remainder of Coates’ trial on June 30, which involves the constitutionality of the public health orders themselves.

Coates spent 35 days in jail for refusing to comply with bail conditions requiring him to obey COVID-19 restrictions. He now faces a single charge under the Public Health Act.

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