Edmonton Church and pastor are no longer required to pay a fine exceeding $80,000.
EDMONTON: The Democracy Fund (TDF) clients, Pastor Tracy Fortin and Church in the Vine of Edmonton, were acquitted Monday by the Court of Appeal of Alberta after being fined more than $80,000 for three obstruction convictions under the Public Health Act. All of the convictions related to refusing COVID-19 health inspections during religious services.
The acquittals were entered by the appellate court on the consent of the parties after the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service conceded that the convictions could not stand in light of the Ingram decision. In that decision, the Court of King’s Bench declared a number of public health orders ultra vires on the ground that they were improperly made by the provincial cabinet as opposed to the Chief Medical Officer of Health.
“The prosecutor did the right thing in conceding the acquittals,” says TDF’s litigation director, Alan Honner. “An obstruction conviction should not stand where the underlying investigation was based on an invalid law.”
As a result of the acquittals, the pastor and church will no longer be required to pay the fine of $80,000.
TDF retained James Kitchen to defend Pastor Fortin and the church against the charges. While the initial trial and a subsequent appeal to the Court of King’s Bench were both unsuccessful, Kitchen sought leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal of Alberta, which was granted in May 2023.
“These acquittals would never have happened without the persistence of the pastor and her legal team,” says Honner. “We are very pleased with the final outcome.”
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About The Democracy Fund:
Founded in 2021, The Democracy Fund (TDF) is a Canadian charity dedicated to constitutional rights, advancing education and relieving poverty. TDF promotes constitutional rights through litigation and public education. TDF supports an access to justice initiative for Canadians whose civil liberties have been infringed by government lockdowns and other public policy responses to the pandemic.