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Alberta

Pastor James Coates to be released from jail as Crown withdraws charges

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This post is from a news release by the Justice Centre

EDMONTON: The Justice Centre today announced that Crown Prosecutors have agreed to withdraw all but one of the Public Health Act offences that Pastor James Coates has been charged with. The Justice Centre expects Pastor Coates will be released from jail in the coming days, without any conditions, pending his May 3-5 trial in Provincial Court.

The Justice Centre will defend Pastor Coates on one remaining charge of violating an Order of the Chief Medical Officer of Health by challenging the lawfulness of the public health order that he is charged with violating.

The Pastor of Grace Life Church near Edmonton has been incarcerated in the Edmonton Remand Centre for a month, since February 16. It is expected that Pastor Coates could be released from jail as early as Friday, March 19.

Grace Life is a church of nearly 400 congregants who have exercised their Charter rights and freedoms normally since July of 2020, including their freedoms of assembly, association, expression, religion and conscience. Not one congregant has been lost to Covid, but, sadly, a congregant was lost to the Alberta Government lockdown in the first week of February when he died prematurely because he couldn’t get the cancer treatment he needed due to government lockdown restrictions.

Pastor Coates and Grace Life Church are represented by the Justice Centre in respect of tickets and court summons. The Pastor and his church have been taken to court by Alberta Health Services (AHS) and ordered to close by AHS for holding regular church services and refusing to turn congregants away.

The Justice Centre sent a letter to Premier Jason Kenney on February 17, 2021, challenging him to assume responsibility for protecting the Charter rights and freedoms of Albertans, and to cease allowing an unelected health official, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, to violate rights and freedoms with health orders that are not reviewed by, or approved by, the elected Members of the Legislative Assembly.

Pastor Coates has been jailed in the Edmonton Remand Centre since February 16, after he refused to sign a bail condition that required him to effectively promise to stop exercising his Charter freedoms of conscience, religion, expression, association and peaceful assembly.

On Sunday, February 7, after the morning worship service, two RCMP officers met with Pastor Coates and a few others in his office at the Church and told Pastor Coates that he was under arrest.

The officers imposed a condition on the Pastor that he only hold church if he followed all the public health restrictions, such as permitting only 15% of his congregants to attend a Sunday morning worship service. Pastor Coates explained to the officers that he could not agree to abide by Charter-violating public health orders that prevent him from fulfilling his duty as a minister to lead his congregation in worship. As Pastor Coates did not agree to the condition imposed on him, RCMP should have taken him before a Justice of the Peace, but they did not and, instead, left the church.

Pastor Coates again held church on Sunday February 14. On Monday, February 15, the RCMP asked Pastor Coates to attend at the RCMP station. When Pastor Coates arrived, the RCMP charged him with multiple Public Health Act offences and a criminal offence related to the bail condition imposed on February 7.

A bail hearing took place on Tuesday, February 16. Crown Prosecutor Karen Thorsrud asked the court to keep Pastor Coates in jail until he could appear for trial. A Justice of the Peace ordered Pastor Coates released on bail on the condition that he only hold church if he followed all the public health restrictions. Pastor Coates could not, in good conscience, agree to such a Charterrights-violating condition of release and was therefore detained at the Edmonton Remand Centre.

Crown prosecutors have now agreed that Pastor Coates can be released without conditions and will withdraw all but one of the Public Health Act charges against him. Prosecutors have also agreed to withdraw the criminal charge in connection with the condition imposed by RCMP on February 7, and instead have charged Pastor Coates $100 for breaching the condition, which Pastor Coates has agreed to pay.

The single charge remaining has not been withdrawn, as the Justice Centre and Pastor Coates want the matter heard at trial, to determine the constitutionality of the public health order that churches only hold worship services at 15% capacity, and to compel the government to produce scientific evidence that might support these violations of Charter freedoms. The trial is scheduled to take place beginning on May 3, 2021.

“The condition that Pastor Coates effectively stop doing his job as a pastor by adhering to unscientific and unconstitutional public health restrictions should never have been imposed on him by the RCMP, or by the Court. We are hopeful that he will finally be released from jail without conditions, and can resume pastoring Grace Life church,” states Justice Centre president John Carpay.

“We look forward appearing in court in May and demanding the government provide evidence that public health restrictions that violate the freedoms of religion, peaceful assembly, expression and association are scientific and are justifiable in a free and democratic country,” concludes Carpay.

After 15 years as a TV reporter with Global and CBC and as news director of RDTV in Red Deer, Duane set out on his own 2008 as a visual storyteller. During this period, he became fascinated with a burgeoning online world and how it could better serve local communities. This fascination led to Todayville, launched in 2016.

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Alberta

Suspect in stolen vehicle kills one and seriously injures another in wild chase

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News release from Beaumont RCMP

Beaumont RCMP seeking public assistance in locating suspect in fatal collision

On Feb. 24, 2024, at approximately 9:00 p.m., Beaumont RCMP located a person suspected of theft, in a parked 15-foot cube moving truck, at a business on 50 Street in Beaumont. When members approached the truck and attempted an arrest, one male driver and one female passenger rammed into a police vehicle and fled the scene at a high rate of speed. Patrols were initiated to find the truck and, a short time later, it was observed on 50 Street and Highway 814 in Beaumont at a high rate of speed.

Meanwhile, Edmonton Police Service’s (EPS) Air One Helicopter was notified and provided its location to RCMP members. Multiple surrounding RCMP detachments, including Leduc and Strathcona, responded to assist. As the truck was driving into Edmonton, a tire deflation device was deployed by RCMP, disabling multiple civilian vehicles. Consequently, an adult female exited one of the civilian vehicles and was fatally struck by the suspect truck. The truck failed to stop and continued driving into Edmonton.

The suspect vehicle then collided with another civilian vehicle, leaving an adult male in serious non-life-threatening condition. The truck was located at 50 Street and 22 Avenue in Southwest Edmonton.

Further investigation revealed that the driver of the truck, an adult male, then proceeded to steal a parked 2020 Honda Civic at a nearby convenience store. This vehicle contained a child who was safely recovered and reunited with his family a short time later. The male suspect has yet to be located.

No other members of the public or officers were injured during this incident.

“On behalf of the RCMP, I would like to send our heartfelt condolences to the family members of the victim,” said Superintendent Leanne MacMillian, Assistant Central Alberta District Officer. “This is a devastating incident that will leave a mark on family and friends for years to come. Please understand that you will be in our thoughts as we progress through this investigation.”

In compliance with legislative requirements, the Director of Law Enforcement was immediately notified causing the deployment of ASIRT to conduct an independent investigation. The RCMP believes in accountability and transparency and in so doing will provide full support to the ASIRT investigators and also conduct its own internal review.  Events like this are difficult for the communities in which they occur, as well as the general public and RCMP officers involved. RCMP officers recognize the trust placed in them to use force that is necessary, proportional and reasonable and in so doing remain fully accountable.

The RCMP are actively investigating this occurrence and are seeking the public’s assistance in locating a stolen, dark grey 4-door Honda Civic with Alberta license place E98-099. The vehicle was stolen by a male suspect described as being approximately 5’11’’ and was last seen wearing a black hoodie with white text on the front, brown shorts and black shoes.

If you have any information about this crime or those responsible, you are asked to contact the Beaumont RCMP at 780-929-7400. If you wish to remain anonymous you can contact Crime Stoppers by phone at 1‐800‐222‐8477 (TIPS), by Internet at www.tipsubmit.com or by SMS (check your local Crime Stoppers www.crimestoppers.ab.ca for instructions).

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Alberta

Canadians owe a debt to Premier Danielle Smith

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From the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

By David MacKinnon

In recent days, Premier Smith has endured criticism from many people about her recent announcements relating to treatments for what is often described as gender transition.

Instead, she deserves praise for decisions that are as important for how they were made as for the gender transition issues that concern her and her colleagues. Her actions on this matter demonstrate how public policy should be developed and explained.

The most important quality of the recent policy announcements by the Alberta government is that they are evidence based.

There is an emerging consensus outside Canada that the evidence supporting pharmacological and surgical procedures to change genders in minors is either very weak or nonexistent.

Sweden, Finland, the UK and Norway have restricted or forbidden the use of these treatments on minors, as have twenty-three American states. Ms. Smith referred to these in her press conference announcing the changes her government is making.

Leaders in other countries have done this after conducting detailed studies including one by the UK High Court of Justice and another by Dr. Hilary Cass, a former President of the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health in the United Kingdom

Dr. Cass is an independent expert commissioned to provide advice to the National Health Service on gender treatments. She concluded that “evidence on the appropriate management of children with gender incongruence is inconclusive both nationally and internationally’’.

The second reason the decisions taken by Alberta are important is that they were taken despite ideology advocated by the Government of Canada and the  unwillingness of federal officials including the Prime Minster to support their opposition to the Alberta policies with any evidence.

In his initial comments, the Prime Minister made no reference to any of the many studies that have been done describing the dangers of pharmacological and surgical procedures to change the gender of minor children.

He also displayed no understanding of the experiences of other countries on this matter. He did not refer to the Cass report and its seminal conclusions.

The comments by Federal Health Minister Mark Holland lacked any evidence the public could use. He also used offensive rhetoric.

Mr. Holland described the Alberta decisions as being behaviour that is “extremely dangerous to engage in …. which is, I think, playing politics about children’s lives.” He also referred to the “devastation that its going to bring”, referring to the Alberta changes.

Federal communications marked by a factual vacuum and excessive language are not going to help resolve serious differences of opinion on serious issues. They are also not condusive to good relations between the federal government and an important province.

The third and particularly significant reason the recent changes announced by the Alberta government are so important is that they will protect children.

Adolescence, a phase of child development that has been with us for thousands of years, is an important part of everyone’s life.

It is a vital part of what it means to be human. Delaying or blocking it is dangerous, something that many observers have noted but that the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health do not recognize.

Federal leaders need to inform themselves, particularly about the negative impact of puberty blockers on bone and brain development and the lifelong medical attention many transitioners will need because of the pharmacological and surgical procedures used on them to change genders.

The Prime Minister and the Minister of Health should also learn about the increasingly large number of transitioners who regret their transition and later seek to reverse it. Their situation is particularly tragic because many of the negative consequences of changing genders in children cannot be reversed.

Federal leaders also support hiding from parents the decisions children make in schools about the pronouns they use to describe their genders. This is another practice that many feel is harmful and divisive.

The federal perspective on this is unreasonable.

Our species survived over the centuries because the first priority for most parents is their children and most take good care of them.

There is no basis for a lack of trust in them and in the relatively few cases where parents do not provide appropriate care, the child protection laws come into play.

It is particularly important that federal leaders recognize the grave problems that puberty blockers and related surgeries often pose for children who are gays or lesbians.

These children sometimes display some of the attributes of the opposite sex as they grow, and these are often misinterpreted as gender dysphoria. They then get treated for a problem they don’t have, with serious lifelong consequences.

Unfortunately, this happens in many Canadian pediatric hospitals.

There is nothing wrong with these children. They should be allowed to develop and grow in their own way  and be who they are. That means no puberty blockers or surgeries to change them.

The fourth reason to respect the new directions on gender issues Ms. Smith and her colleagues have decided upon is the moderation displayed by the Alberta government in putting them forward and communicating with the public about them.

The language used has been understated. The changes are lawful in every respect including in relation to the Charter of Rights and Freedom and other legislation.

The evidence has been clearly presented in a way most citizens can readily understand and great care has been taken to deal with those who may have concerns thoughtfully, including allowing time for debate and discussion before the changes are made.

This is a good example of how governments should behave. Federal leaders should show some respect for the approaches taken by Ms. Smith and her colleagues as they dealt with a very complex issue.

The final reason for the importance of the Alberta approach is that it has avoided many of the problems associated with medical practice standards and regulation that are so evident in Canada and which have been a major cause of the difficulties our country faces on gender issues.

Provincial Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons and many regulators elsewhere regulate doctors based largely on prevailing practices by physicians rather than clinical outcomes.

This means that there have been many cases over the years, in Canada and elsewhere, where evidence to support medical procedures has been lacking. Current practices toward gender dysphoria in Canada and some US states are examples.

In these cases, if something is done often enough by enough doctors, that procedure becomes the standard and not clinical outcomes. This often leads to perverse outcomes that everyone ultimately regrets.

In the years to come, unless we change course soon and unless others follow the Alberta path, people will be wondering how the problems summarized in this article developed and why we damaged so many children by an approach defined more by ideology than factual reality.

David MacKinnon is a Senior Fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

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