Church in the Vine of Edmonton and pastor Tracy Fortin are appealing conviction and sentence with support from The Democracy Fund.
Edmonton: The Democracy Fund (TDF) hired lawyer, James Kitchen, has filed a Notice of Appeal to the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta following Judge Shelagh Creagh’s ruling that levied an $80,000 fine against Edmonton-based Church in the Vine and pastor Tracy Fortin.
On three different occasions in 2021, Fortin would not allow a public health inspector to enter her congregation during Sunday services to check for COVID-19 compliance. Fortin asked the public health officer to come back at a different time when people were not actively praying.
In the final conviction, Fortin and the church, were found guilty on six counts of obstructing a public health officer.
Kitchen will address a number of issues in the appeal, including whether the trial judge erred by summarily dismissing the appellants’ application for a hearing on whether their Charter rights were breached, including their Charter rights to freedom of religion and peaceful assembly. Kitchen will also argue that the trial judge made an evidentiary error by taking “judicial notice” of facts about Covid-19. Judicial notice is a rule of evidence, which allows a judge to accept something as true without proof because it is so notorious or well known that it cannot reasonably be doubted.
Kitchen contends that the trial judge erred in finding that worship gatherings are “regulated activities” as opposed to constitutionally-protected activities. Kitchen further pleads that the judge made errors in sentencing. Fines in the amount of $80,000 are considerably disproportionate to the offences. The trial judge also erred by failing to consider relevant factors in sentencing, including the fact that the appellants were not alleged to have breached any public health orders.
"This case, like almost all involving COVID, is the product of a judiciary that has uncritically accepted the government's and mainstream media's narrative regarding COVID and has inverted the legal relationship between constitutional rights and mere public health laws. I look forward to addressing the many serious errors of law committed by the trial judge in this case, especially the increasing problem of the courts' liberal use of judicial notice to import facts about COVID that are highly contested by those who dissent from the official government narrative." — James Kitchen
The appeal is scheduled for September 16, 2022.
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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.