Trial to begin for Alberta pastor accused of violating COVID-19 health orders

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The trial of an Alberta pastor accused of not following public health orders meant to curb the spread of COVID-19 is to begin Monday.

Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church spent a month in jail for violating a bail condition not to hold church services that officials have said ignored measures on capacity limits, physical distancing and masking.

He was released March 22 after pleading guilty and was fined $1,500.

The pastor and the Edmonton-area church still face one charge of violating Alberta’s Public Health Act.

Click to play video: 'Calgary convoy heads to GraceLife Church in show of support'

Calgary convoy heads to GraceLife Church in show of support

Calgary convoy heads to GraceLife Church in show of support – Apr 11, 2021

Lawyers for Coates have said they will argue that the provincial government needs to be held accountable for COVID-19 rules that the lawyers say infringe on the constitutional right to freedom of religion and peaceful assembly.

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Alberta Health Services has said GraceLife and its pastor continued to hold services exceeding capacity despite the charges and multiple warnings.

The church was shut down and fenced off by health officers in early April.

The trial in Edmonton provincial court is expected to last three to four days.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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