TDF serves constitutional notice in defence of pastor charged for praying in municipal building

The Democracy Fund client was charged with trespassing after prayer was deemed a "religious event without a permit."

CALGARY: The Democracy Fund (TDF) appeared in the Alberta Court of Justice on Friday to file a Notice of Application and Constitutional Issue in a case where they are defending Calgary pastor Derek Reimer against trespassing charges for praying in the City of Calgary Municipal Complex.

Reimer was silently praying with his back to a wall in the municipal complex on March 14, 2023, with four other individuals, when he was approached by four police officers and two security guards who issued him a Trespass Notice. His alleged offence is holding a religious event inside the municipal complex without a permit, which is contrary to Bylaw 38M2012.

Prior to being charged with trespassing, Reimer was well known as the pastor of MISSION7, a Christian worship organization that focuses on outreach to the homeless in the City of Calgary. Reimer entered the public spotlight in February 2023 when he was criminally charged with causing a disturbance and mischief after he allegedly disrupted a drag queen story hour at a public library.

Alan Honner, TDF's litigation director and Reimer's lawyer, says the trespassing charge makes little sense. "Is the City of Calgary seriously saying you need a permit to pray in a municipal building?" asks Honner. "Clearly, there is a distinction between religious activity and holding a religious event. A public prayer ban is not something we should tolerate in a free and democratic society."

Initially, Reimer alone was charged with trespassing, while the other four individuals were ignored by police and city security. While video disclosure suggests that another person was ticketed, that only happened after she protested Reimer's charge.

Honner says that the selective targeting of Reimer is troubling, and it suggests animus on behalf of the city and police towards him or his religious beliefs.

The application and trial are set to be heard on February 6-7, 2024, in the City of Calgary.  

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.

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