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COVID-19

Fraser Valley churches challenge Dr. Bonnie Henry as dishonest and discriminatory in court

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6 minute read

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry

From the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms

These churches submitted an accommodation request to gather for in-person worship services, but their request received no response for several weeks. At the same time, however, Dr. Henry had been responding within one or two days to accommodation requests from Orthodox synagogues, granting them permission to meet in-person.

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms announces that Fraser Valley churches are arguing, in a 10-day hearing in Chilliwack, BC, that BC Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry granted preferential treatment to some faith groups over others when considering requests to be exempted from her total ban on all in-person worship services. The churches argue that their prosecution for violating public health orders is an abuse of process and ought to be stayed. Lawyers for the churches will present evidence that Dr. Henry acted dishonestly and in bad faith while banning in-person worship services in 2020 and 2021, granting immediate exemptions to Jewish synagogues while ignoring exemption requests from Muslims and Christians. The hearing will at the Chilliwack Law Courts, will conclude on Thursday, June 27.

In November 2020, Dr. Henry banned in-person worship services while allowing bars, restaurants, gyms, and salons to remain open for in-person services.

Along with several other churches in the Fraser Valley, the Free Reformed Church in Chilliwack, BC, re-opened its doors in 2020 and 2021 while simultaneously complying with health orders regarding face masks, hand washing, social distancing, etc. In January 2021, the Free Reformed Church, along with two other churches, filed a constitutional challenge to the prohibition on in-person worship services. After filing the challenge, these churches submitted an accommodation request to gather for in-person worship services, but their request received no response for several weeks. At the same time, however, Dr. Henry had been responding within one or two days to accommodation requests from Orthodox synagogues, granting them permission to meet in-person.

Two business days before the Court was scheduled to hear the constitutional challenge, Dr. Henry finally granted the Free Reformed Church and two other churches limited permission to gather outdoors, while refusing them permission to gather indoors, claiming that indoor gatherings were too risky. However, earlier that same week, Dr. Henry had granted all Orthodox synagogues in the province permission to gather indoors; that same week, mosques seeking permission to gather in-person received no accommodation.

On March 18, 2021, BC Supreme Court Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson dismissed the Free Reformed Church’s challenge, in part because Dr. Henry had granted them permission to meet outdoors. The BC Court of Appeal upheld Chief Justice Hinkson’s decision, and the Supreme Court of Canada subsequently refused to hear the case.

Meanwhile, Pastor Koopman of the Free Reformed Church, and other churches and pastors, were prosecuted by the Crown in BC Provincial Courts. On November 8, 2022, Pastor Koopman was found guilty of hosting an in-person worship service in December 2020.

On April 14, 2023, Pastor Koopman submitted an Application to the Provincial Court of British Columbia, alleging that the discriminatory actions of the Provincial Health Officer had made the continuation of his prosecution offensive to societal notions of fair play and decency and had brought the administration of justice into disrepute. In response, on May 10, 2023, the Crown argued that the abuse-of-process application should not proceed to an evidentiary hearing, and that Dr. Henry and Deputy Provincial Health Officer Dr. Brian Emerson should not be subpoenaed as witnesses in the case.

For three days, from May 15–18, 2023, Judge Andrea Ormiston heard arguments on whether the abuse of process Application could proceed to an evidentiary hearing. On September 6, 2023, Judge Ormiston denied the Crown’s Application to summarily dismiss Pastor Koopman’s abuse-of-process Application because she found that there was “some evidence that the Provincial Health Officer preferred some faith groups over others.” Judge Ormiston found that, under the circumstances, it was not “manifestly frivolous” to think that the continued prosecution of Pastor Koopman “risks undermining the integrity of the judicial process.” However, Judge Ormiston declined to allow Dr. Henry or Dr. Emerson to be subpoenaed on the matter.

“When government officials, including public health officers, exercise coercive government power, it is essential that they use that power honestly, in good faith and without discrimination against people based on irrelevant consideration, including their particular religious faith,” stated lawyer Marty Moore. “We believe that the evidence in this case will show that the Provincial Health Officer’s treatment of faith communities during 2020 and 2021 violated the rule of law and that the prosecution of pastors and churches in this context undermines public confidence not only in our public health officials, but also in our justice system.”

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COVID-19

Court decision allows Trudeau gov’t to avoid accountability on COVID travel app, top legal group says

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From LifeSiteNews

By Anthony Murdoch

Four Canadians who refused to comply with the government’s border surveillance program had charges against them withdrawn, but no determination was made on the constitutionality of forcing the unvaccinated to quarantine.

A constitutional legal group says a recent court decision to withdraw charges leveled against four men who refused to go along with a COVID border surveillance program means the federal government “escaped accountability” for rules that targeted jab-free Canadians.

“This outcome is bittersweet for each of our clients,” said Chris Fleury, an attorney for the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF), in a recent press release sent to LifeSiteNews.

“It is positive for each of them personally. On the other hand, they were deeply interested in seeking a determination of the constitutionality of the irrational and unscientific decision forcing unvaccinated Canadians to quarantine.”

Fleury noted that the court ruling means the federal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has “again escaped accountability for Covid policy decisions that breached Canadians’ Charter rights.”

The JCCF said the City of Mississauga withdrew “five charges against four Canadians who refused to comply with ArriveCAN requirements at the Toronto Pearson International Airport.”

The federal government’s $59.5 million scandal-ridden ArriveCAN travel app was introduced in April 2020 and mandated in November 2020. The app was used to track the COVID jab status of those entering the country and to enforce quarantines when deemed necessary.

When the app was mandated, all travelers entering Canada had to use it to submit their travel and contact information as well as any COVID vaccination details before crossing the border or boarding a flight.

In February, LifeSiteNews reported that Conservative Party MPs accused the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) of lying to Parliament over sweetheart contracting approvals concerning ArriveCAN.

Man revealed COVID jab status after breaking down under ‘pressure,’ then hit will $5,000 fine

“After arriving in Toronto from the Netherlands, Mr. Sly-Hooten felt that his personal medical information should remain private and chose not to disclose his vaccination status via ArriveCAN. In response, Peel Regional Police and Public Health Agency of Canada personnel detained him,” the JCCF said.

The JCCF added that “under pressure” and without any “counsel,” Sly-Hooten “broke down and revealed his vaccination status.”

“He received a $5,000 ticket for violating the Quarantine Act and was ordered to quarantine in his home for 14 days,” the JCCF explained.

The JCCF noted that it was able to help Sly-Hooten launch a constitutional challenge “against ArriveCAN, citing his right to liberty, his right to be protected from unreasonable search and seizure, his right to be free from arbitrary arrest and detention, and his right to counsel after arrest and detention – all protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

Other withdrawn tickets include those issued to Mark Spence, Aaron Grubb, and Evan Kraayenbrink.

The JCCF noted that, like Sly-Hooten, “each were charged for choosing not to provide information via ArriveCAN and were ordered to quarantine for 14 days.”

“Prosecutors have withdrawn the charges because they believe it is not in the public interest to expend further resources on a trial,” the JCCF said. “This outcome follows a similar pattern of ArriveCAN-related charges being dropped before their trials in what appears to be an attempt to shield the controversial program from constitutional scrutiny. In other words, charges are being dropped before the merits of constitutional challenges to ArriveCAN can be heard by the courts.”

Canadians were told ArriveCAN was supposed to have cost $80,000, but the number quickly ballooned to $54 million, with the latest number showing it cost $59.5 million.

The app itself was riddled with tech glitches along with privacy concerns from users.

Canadian Auditor General Karen Hogan announced an investigation of ArriveCAN in November 2022 after the House of Commons voted 173-149 for a full audit of the controversial app.

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates (OGGO) is investigating how various companies such as Dalian, Coaradix, and GC Strategies received millions in taxpayer dollars to develop the contentious quarantine-tracking program.

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COVID-19

Employee wins lawsuit filed by gov’t agency after losing job for refusing COVID shot

Published on

From LifeSiteNews

By Emily Mangiaracina

The federal government successfully sued on her behalf, citing a Title VII violation.

A former assistant manager who was fired after applying for a religious accommodation to refuse the COVID shot has been awarded a six-figure payout after a federal government agency filed a lawsuit on the employee’s behalf.

Federal Judge M. Casey Rodgers on Thursday ordered the Pensacola, Florida store Hank’s Fine Furniture (HFI) to pay a former manager, identified in the lawsuit as “K.M.O.,” $110,000 for refusing to accommodate her request for exemption from the COVID shot due to her “sincerely held Christian beliefs.”

“HFI is permanently enjoined from discriminating against any employee on the basis of religion in violation of Title VII,” Rodgers wrote, the Pensacola News Journal reported Monday. He further declared that HFI “will reasonably accommodate employee and prospective employee religious beliefs during all hiring, discipline and promotion activities,” and “any activity affecting any other terms and conditions of employment.”

Significantly, the store also “cannot require proof that an employee’s or applicant’s religious objection to an employer requirement be an official tenet or endorsed teaching of said religious belief,” according to Pensacola News Journal.

Hank’s Furniture must also adopt a written policy, disseminated to all employees, declaring that HFI “will not require any employee to violate sincerely held religious beliefs, including those pertaining to vaccinations, as a condition of his/her employment.”

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sued on behalf of K.M.O. (EEOC v. Hank’s Furniture, Inc., Case No. 3:23-cv-24533-MCR-HTC) in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida after it was unable to reach a pre-litigation settlement “through its administrative conciliation process.”

According to Pensacola News Journal, about two weeks after HFI implemented a policy mandating that its employees receive a COVID shot, K.M.O. told the company she would not get the shot due to her “sincerely held religious beliefs,” and then requested a religious exemption.

According to the lawsuit, HFI ignored her request and asked if she would comply with their COVID shot policy, and K.M.O. then told HFI she planned to submit a written religious accommodation request, asking “whether HFI had a particular form she should use.”

HFI reportedly did not respond to her request. When K.M.O. complained that HFI’s unwillingness to grant her a religious exemption was “unjust,” her new supervisor reportedly told her that “HFI did not care why she would not take” the COVID shot and that HFI “would never grant an accommodation.”

When K.M.O. emailed HMI on September 6, 2021, asking for the status of her religious exemption request, HFI informed her that her religious exemption request was “severely lacking,” and then denied it.

K.M.O. then “asked for help to submit an acceptable religious exemption request,” but HFI refused to discuss any accommodation, according to the lawsuit. Then on October 31, she was fired by HFI because she did not comply with their COVID “vaccination” policy.

Birmingham District Director Bradley Anderson remarked regarding the case for an EEOC press release, “Employees should not have to renounce their religious beliefs in order to remain employed. Let this case serve as a reminder that employers should afford accommodation for religious beliefs unless doing so would cause an undue hardship.”

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