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BC Supreme Court to examine rule on church gatherings

North Vancouver Island protest planned for Easter

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While BC lawyers prepare to challenge a court ruling that would allow pandemic parishioners back into the pews, Vancouver Island church-goers are organizing a mass protest Easter Sunday.

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms recently filed a Notice of Appeal after a lower court upheld the BC Government’s Provincial Health Orders which prohibit in-person worship services.

Paul Jaffe is a Vancouver lawyer and lead counsel for the petitioners on the case: three churches, as well as a Dawson Creek man arguing his freedom to publicaly protest despite being “reined in” by the Mounties.

“They are similar cases in the sense the target of our constitutional challenge are the orders of (Provincial Health Officer) Dr. Bonnie Henry,” he said.

“In both instances we said the order was over-broad in that they were prohibiting things for which there was no medical basis … and they were arbitrary — especially with respect to the churches — that they were prohibiting some kinds of gatherings, but not others based on the subject of discussions at these gatherings.”

Jaffe added it appeared secular assemblies were condoned, while those who simply wished to worship are being denied the same rights.

That’s the feeling of Black Creek, BC resident Larry Baillie, who said he plans on being part of a mass protest to take place Sunday in Campbell River, about 30-km north of Black Creek.

“It will be a peaceful protest, with a march,” the Living Waters Fellowship parishioner said.

Baillie said he believes the province doesn’t really know what it’s doing when it closes churches.

“Even when we were allowed to be open, our pastor received a call from the RCMP who said if they received one complaint, they would send an officer to issue tickets.”

Jaffe’s familiar with the tactic and said the churches and individuals involved in his  case have received dozens of $2,300 tickets for peacefully exercising their constitutional freedoms to gather, protest and worship.

“Between four or five people, we had about $35,000 in fines back in January. I know that increased immensely over the past few months.”

The court battles began January 8 when the Justice Centre filed a constitutional challenge against restrictions on public protest and the prohibition on in-person worship services.

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson, of the Supreme Court of British Columbia, issued a decision March 18  which struck down the prohibition on public protest in place from November 19, 2020 to February 10, 2021, but dismissed the challenge to the ban on in-person worship services.

Hinkson wrote while Henry’s orders infringe the fundamental freedoms of religion, expression, peaceful assembly and association, in the Court’s view, Henry was owed deference to her decision-making.

Hinkson further ruled Henry was not required to be correct in making her orders, but only needed to have acted in a reasonable range of alternatives.

The BC churches challenging the Provincial Health Orders assert they’ve gone to extraordinary lengths to comply with health guidelines, including limiting attendance to no more than 50 persons, pre-registering attendees, maintaining detailed contact tracing systems, rearranging seating to ensure physical distancing, providing hand sanitizer and masks, and enhancing cleaning and sanitizing procedures.

“Still, the provincial health officer ruled gatherings of people for worship were prohibited, while gatherings for people in any number of other purposes was fine,” said Jaffe.

“Watching hockey games at the pub, going to Costco and gyms are all OK. The notion that somehow transmission risks are a function of discussion is ridiculous.”

A couple of things are at stake in this case, Jaffe said.

“I think it’s important for the government to know they have no power to control the subject of discussions, and the exercise of fundamental freedoms unless they have very good reasons to do that.”

Jaffe further argues that specifically goes against the Canadian Charter of Rights that guarantees freedom of religion, conscience, thought, opinion and beliefs, expression, peaceful assembly, association, et al.

The Justice Centre will argue that a number of errors were made by the lower court ruling, including: treating the orders deferentially and considering them administrative decisions, when they should have been judged as laws affecting all BC residents; the lower court failed to adequately address the central issue in the case, namely why religious services were treated differently.

In-person faith services were banned entirely while other in-person gatherings which pose a greater risk of transmission were permitted and that the lower court failed to require the province to show specific and persuasive scientific evidence to justify its violation of constitutional rights, especially against freedom of religion, and improperly relied on the unsworn public statements of Henry made to the media.

“A declared public health crisis does not permit courts to neglect their constitutional obligation to ensure that government actions respect the Charter rights of citizens,” added Justice Centre Staff lawyer Marty Moore.

A court date for the appeal has yet to be determined.

Mike D’Amour is a former investigative reporter for Sun Media, and the Western Standard’s B.C. bureau chief

mdamour@westernstandardonline.com


Mike D'Amour is the British Columbia Bureau Chief for the Western Standard. He worked as an investigative crime reporter at the Calgary & Winnipeg Suns. mdamour@westernstandardonline.com

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Third wall built around GraceLife Church as protesters gather

A large protest, and possible outdoor service, are expected at the site Sunday morning.

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Authorities have put a third fence around the GraceLife Church hoping to keep out crowds expected to gather Sunday morning.

AHS, with the help of RCMP, raided the church, in Spruce Grove, Wednesday morning erecting the initial barricades. The third level of defence was put up Saturday.

On Sunday morning, about 100 people gathered at the furthest barricade which was manned by more than as dozen police officers.

Protesters sang songs and hymns and yelled at the police.

One woman asked for her son to be allowed to go into the church to use the washroom. She was refused and launched a torrent of abuse against the police.

The church, under Pastor James Coates, had repeatedly violated COVID-19 laws by holding packed services with hundreds of people.

Coates turned himself into the RCMP and served more than a month in jail before being released with a $1,500 fine and a tongue-lashing from the judge.

Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro personally approved the AHS-RCMP raid and barricading of the Grace Life Church according to a UCP MLA that spoke to the Western Standard on condition of anonymity. Shandro has denied the story.

A large protest, and possible outdoor service, are expected at the site Sunday morning.

This story will be updated as the Sunday events happen.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Jivraj admits planting fake stories with Press Progress, CBC

Under oath, Jivraj admitted he was a long-time informant for Press Progress, the de facto media arm of the NDP.

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Western Standard News editor Dave Naylor has spent two weeks investigating the story of Caylan Ford. Ford seemed a rising political star – intelligent, photogenic and a working mother. She was recruited by Jason Kenney to run provincial for the UCP.

Ford seemed to be on the path to stardom when she was shot down in flames by rumours and planted news stories in a NDP-linked news site.

Ford blames one man for her downfall – Kiram Javrij. 

Over the next week, Naylor will tell their story backed with court documentation and interviews.

Karim Jivraj, under testimony during a deposition, detailed just how complex his undercover harassment of UCP candidate Caylan Ford, and other women was.

Under withering questioning by Ford’s Lawyer, R.E. Harrison, Javrij admitted to planting fake stories with the NDP-linked Press Progress and the CBC.

In October 2018, Jivraj wrote a letter accusing Ford of committing “residency fraud” and claimed she was ineligible to stand as a candidate for election in the riding of Calgary Mountainview.

“He asked nine members of my constituency association board to sign the letter, but did not sign it himself,” said Ford in an exclusive interview with the Western Standard.

“Then he sent it to the media, and invited journalists to report on his allegations. Press Progress did.”

The following is a portion of the Q and A between Harrison and Jivraj.

Harrison: You say that you helped author the letter?
A: Yes.

Harrison then ask Jivraj who else on the board helped author the letter to then UCP Executive Director Janice Harrington.

Q: Now, after authoring the letter, you circulated it to the other board directors to seek their signatures?

A: Yes. I — I and others circulated it.

Read Javrij’s letter to the Mountainview board

Harrison then got Jivraj to admit he didn’t sign the letter he letter. Jivraj then detailed how he was the one who sent the letter to the NDP-linked news website, Press Progress.

Q: The October 13, 2018, article from Press Progress is entitled “UCP Constituency Association Accuses Jason Kenney’s Handpicked ‘Parachute Candidate’ of Breaking Party Rules.” Do you see that.

A: Yeah.

Q: Do you recognize this article?

A: Yes.

Q: Now, do you know who sent the October 1, 2018, letter to Press Progress?

A: I believe I did.

In November 2018, Jivraj purchased Google attack ads on searches of Ford’s name. These ads included a fabricated quotation, which Jivraj attributed to Ford. Harrison asked Jivraj who bought them.

A: I’m not sure if “purchase” is the right word. I received a free $50 budget on Google Ads, and so that was used for this. So there was no monetary investment.”

Q: Okay. So these ads were posted by you?

A: Yes.

In November 2018, Jivraj used a pseudonymous email account to send defamatory statements about Ford to 1,300 of her electors. The emails included another fabricated quotation which he attributed to Ford.

Q: You see the last attack ad has a quote: “My family has lived in southwest Calgary for generations. I could never live in north Calgary. Anywhere above the Bow is basically a suburb.” Do you see that quotation?

A: Yes

Q: Did you create that quotation?

A: I don’t believe so.

Q: Where did you get that quotation from?

A: I’m not sure. I think Ms. Ford may have said something along those lines when I was looking for a place in Calgary.

Q: You’re aware that Ms. Ford has lived in the neighbourhood of Sunnyside?

A: I became aware of that afterward.

Q: And why did these attack — why did these ads link to Press Progress?

A : That’s a good question. I don’t know.

Under oath, Jivraj admitted he was a long-time informant for Press Progress, the de facto media arm for the NDP.

Q: Did you email or call PressProgress to disclose this conversation?

A: I can’t recall. I don’t — I can’t recall if I reached out directly to Press Progress. I think the — what initiated the cycle of events was my meeting, my physical meeting at (Calgary coffee shop) Vendome.

Q: What I want to know is whether you phoned Press Progress to provide them with the contents of the conversation or provide them information

A: I can’t recall.

Q: Why did Press Progress call you out of the blue as you’ve insinuated.

Jivraj admits he has been in contact with Press Progress previously to discuss provincial and federal politics.

Q: OK, How many times would you have spoken with Press Progress previously to their phone call to you?

A: Again, I don’t want to guess, but several, several times.

Jivraj admits he has been in contact with Press progress since 2015. Ford herself then jumps into the questioning, asking Jivraj about his dealings with the CBC.

CBC Logo (photo credit CBC)

Ford: Did you disclose additional private messages between yourself and me to the CBC?

A: Yes

Ford: Have you created any other pseudonymous Twitter accounts?

A: Yeah. In my various political activities, yes, I’ve created many.

Ford is suing Jivraj, Press Progress and several media outlets for a total of $7 million.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

The saga of Karim Jivraj’s campaign against Ford and other conservative women is just too incredible to be told in a single feature article.

That’s why the Western Standard decided to break it down into a series, which will dive into several of the actions taken by Jivraj. It’s a story we did not believe until we obtained the evidence.

COMING NEXT: Tap on back leads to assault allegations from Rivraj against Ford

PREVIOUSLY: 
How a Conservative candidate worked with the NDP to bring down star UCP candidate
Tory candidate admits using a fake Twitter account to spread false sexual rumours
Jivraj admits to undercover online campaigns against women

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EXCLUSIVE: UCP MLA says Shandro approved barricading GraceLife Church

But a spokesman for Shandro denied any involvement by the minister.

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Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro personally approved the AHS-RCMP raid and barricading of the Grace Life Church according to a UCP MLA that spoke to the Western Standard on condition of anonymity.

RCMP and Alberta Health Services conducted a Wednesday dawn raid on the church in Spruce Grove, Alberta after it repeatedly refused to comply to lockdown and capacity orders from the government.

“Shandro directly signed off on the raid,” said the MLA.

The MLA said the public backlash against the raid has rocked the government, and they are considering removing the wall before an expected large service is held there Sunday.

But a spokesman for Shandro denied any involvement by the minister.

“Minister Shandro did not direct or sign off this action. The law gives AHS independent authority to carry out such an action. The Minister is not required to sign off on enforcement activity such as seen at GraceLife, nor did he sign off. “

The move against the church came the day after Alberta Premier Jason Kenney threw the province back into a COVID-19 lockdown for the third time, discarding the policy of phased reopening based on measurable targets.

The move infuriated even members of his own caucus, with 17 UCP MLAs signing a public letter denouncing Kenney.

Another UCP MLA told the Western Standard they are “100% certain” Kenney will be the subject of an early party leadership review.

“Caucus is in total chaos,” said the MLA, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity.

A new Angus Reid poll this week showed a whopping 75% of Albertans oppose Kenney’s handling of the pandemic, including those that believe he has gone too far in restrictions, and those who believe that he hasn’t gone far enough.

Former federal Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day the Alberta government for barricading the GraceLife Church, saying it would bring “gleeful howls” from dictators around the world.

The church’s pastor, James Coates recently spent 35 days in the Edmonton Remand Centre after refused to agree to stop preaching as a condition of his bail.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

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