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Third pastor arrested in Alberta for breaking COVID lockdowns

Pastor Tim Stephens, of the Fairview Baptist Church, was arrested by city police on Sunday afternoon.

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A Calgary baptist preacher has become the third religious leader arrested in Alberta for breaking COVID-19 regulations over church attendance.

Pastor Tim Stephens, of the Fairview Baptist Church, was arrested by city police on Sunday afternoon. He had been the subject of repeated warnings from Alberta Health Services for having too many people at his services.

Earlier this month, on the church’s website, Stephens vowed to contiue services.

“Our actions are borne out of theological commitments to the Lordship of Christ and his instruction to the church as revealed in Scripture,” wrote Stephens.

“This, above all, is the reason why we have been gathering and will continue to gather … the consequences may be severe. But we stand before Christ rather than bend before consequences.”

Pastor James Coates, of the GraceLife Church, outside Edmonton, spent a month in jail after he was arrested by the RCMP for breaking lockdown regulations repeatedly. His case is still before the courts.

Last week, Pastor Art Pawlowski was arrested in Calgary for continuing to flout the regulations at his street chruch.

Calgary police at the AHS issued a joint statement saying Stephens was “arrested this afternoon for organizing a church service that was held today at Fairview Baptist Church, located at 230 78 Ave. S.E., that did not comply with public health orders, including masking, physical distancing and attendance limits. Police did not enter the church during today’s service.

“CPS has received repeated calls from concerned citizens regarding church services held at Fairview Baptist Church over the past several weeks. Last weekend, Pastor Stephens was proactively served a copy of the Court of Queen’s Bench Order obtained by AHS,” the statement said.

“The pastor acknowledged the injunction, but chose to move forward with today’s service, ignoring requirements for social distancing, mask-wearing and reduced capacity limits for attendees.

“For several weeks, AHS has attempted to work collaboratively with leadership at Fairview Baptist Church to address the ongoing public health concerns at the site. It is only when significant risk is identified or continued non-compliance is noted that AHS resorts to enforcement action.

“Once again, CPS acknowledges it is important to understand that law enforcement recognizes people’s desire to participate in faith-based gatherings as well as the right to protest. However, as we are still in a global pandemic, we all must comply with public health orders in order to ensure everyone’s safety and wellbeing.”

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

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard and the Vice-President: News Division of Western Standard New Media Corp. He has served as the City Editor of the Calgary Sun and has covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years. dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Lynda Allaby

    May 17, 2021 at 8:12 pm

    Would SOMEONE tell me why Muslim churches are allowed to be filled to capacity and still open, with no repercussions, but Baptist, etc. are having pastors arrested and churches closed????
    I DON’T care if Muslim churches, etc. are OVERFLOWING & breaking every mandated law, but close ALL churches, NOT JUST CHRISTIAN CHURCHES!!!!! I deserve the right to know WHY some are open, while Christian churches & pastors are taking the brunt of UNNECESSARY Communist-like crackdown!!! WE THE PEOPLE have a right to know!!!!

  2. Lee Morrison

    May 17, 2021 at 12:57 pm

    I wonder how many other regulations Pastor Tim Stephens believes that his religious belief gives him the right to flout. Speeding in a school zone? Drinking alcohol in a public place? Left Coast states with certitude that crowded church gatherings haven’t led to any spread of COVID infections. I wish that I had his gift of claivoyance.

  3. Left Coast

    May 17, 2021 at 10:11 am

    Brokeback Kenny seems to hate Christianity . . . why is that?

    How many people came down with the Wuhan Flu in the Baptist Church?
    I know the answer to that question . . . NONE!

    Long past time this stupidity ended . . . a few hundred died from the Flu . . . don’t hundreds die from the Flu EVERY YEAR?

    Meanwhile . . . 1000s are wandering through Costco, Safeway, BestBuy fondling the merchandise and waiting in long checkout lines . . . but that’s perfectly fine cause they are powerful Corporatistas who give out Campaign Donations to Politicians.

  4. Steven Ruthven

    May 17, 2021 at 3:17 am

    Premier Kenney reminds me of a smug know it all, being in the political game for a long time, & tough as nails.

    Has the CPC Party backing him. O’Toole also. I believe, Jason Kenney gained the Premiership under False Pretenses a behavior intended to deceive others. Which he did quite well. In Canada it’s acceptable for a politician to lie, deceive, manipulate. Hell look at Justin Trudeau. What a candidate says during an election run up, what they say they are going to do in an election run up, needs to be accountable & followed through if elected.

    Kenney said a lot during the campaign, said a lot of what he was going to do for Albertans & we all know not long after the election. Jason Kenney showed his true nature he was a Staunch Federalist.

    If Kenney was working a corporate job at a public company & did that to the shareholders. Kenney would be held accountable under the law, but not in politics nope, not in politics.

  5. John Stirling

    May 16, 2021 at 9:02 pm

    IF the UPC are going to survive, Kenney has to go. Why can’t they see this. The man has no integrity, only a lust for power! Why didn’t he replace Hennshaw; Notley’s plant; who sabotaged him. Now he has lost the next election for the UPC. Albertans don’t forgive traitors.

  6. Bryan

    May 16, 2021 at 7:19 pm

    I knew a fellow who moved to Canada from Russia because he thought Canada was more free. After living here for three years, he said there was more freedom in Russia. He and his wife moved back to Russia.

  7. John Lankers

    May 16, 2021 at 7:08 pm

    How ironic that in 2020/21 people in Russia enjoy more personal freedom and have more rights than people in Canada.

  8. Seven-Zero-One

    May 16, 2021 at 6:28 pm

    Alberta is the only country in Western world that arrest 3 Pastors. Congrats Alberta.
    I blame Albertans for choosing to be a part of Colonist Federation.

    *Sovereignty for Alberta*

  9. Matt C

    May 16, 2021 at 6:24 pm

    Apart from masks and distancing at the checkout lines, it’s business as usual at Walmart, Canadian Tire, Home Depot…..etc.
    Why is buying lawn fertilizer considered more essential than coming together for fellowship and to worship God?
    Does anyone know what the percentage increase in suicides in alberta was between 2019 and 2020? In the United States, it was approximately a 100% increase…. from a little over 20,000 in 2019 to over 40,000 in 2020.

  10. Mars Hill

    May 16, 2021 at 5:24 pm

    William (Bible Bill) Aberhart and Earnest Manning must be spinning in their graves. For those not aware both were God fearing Pastor/Evangelists and Premiers that led Alberta for about 35 years. I feel those responsible for jailing our Pastors have spit on their graves.

  11. Josh

    May 16, 2021 at 5:12 pm

    I wonder if Kenney and the AHS forget that Alberta never forgets. It’s been around 40 years since our prime ministers father affected Alberta and people today are still angry for it. What makes you think dragging Alberta’s government, doctors, and polices name through the dirt is gonna do? We may have more than a generation never again trust to words of those mentioned above.

  12. Erik Tarves

    May 16, 2021 at 5:10 pm

    The Soviet Union / Nero proved beyond a doubt that when christians dig their heels in, nothing will stop them, not jail or hungry lions

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CLEMENT: No reason to toast federal tax on non-alcoholic beer

Across the board, we should expect better from Ottawa, and the tax on non-alcoholic beer is yet another example of where they’ve gotten it wrong.

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Sin-taxes, across all sectors, are fairly excessive in Canada. At almost every turn the government sinks its tax teeth into the process of you purchasing the products you like. This is true for cannabis products, alcohol, tobacco, vaping, gas, and annoyingly so, non-alcoholic beer. Yes, non-alcoholic beer in Canada is not exempt from federal excise taxes.

You read that right. The federal government also extends its sin-tax regime for non-alcoholic beer, at a rate of $2.82/hectolitre.

The application of excise taxes for non-alcoholic beer is problematic for a variety of reasons. The first, and most glaring, is that it is hypocritical given that the federal government has exempted non-alcoholic wine and spirits from the excise tax. Why apply it for beer, but not wine and spirits? Obviously, a more consistent approach would be to simply exempt all non-alcoholic beverages from the excise tax, because the purpose of the sin tax is to recover alcohol-related healthcare costs. That said, there are no alcohol-related healthcare costs at all from non-alcoholic beer, which immediately shows the lunacy of sin-taxing these products.

In addition to correcting hypocrisy, removing the excise tax for non-alcoholic beer would put federal policy in line with how the provinces treat these products. Provincial regulators, including Alberta, don’t require non-alcoholic beverages to be sold at licensed alcohol retail outlets, because they’ve accepted the obvious that these products don’t have alcohol in them and thus shouldn’t be strictly regulated. That is why in Alberta these products are often sold alongside carbonated water and pop. Removing the excise tax would be the federal government following the lead of the provinces in treating non-alcoholic beer differently than beer, because they are in fact different.

On the industry side, the federal excise tax acts as a barrier for product development in Canada, mostly because other beer producing jurisdictions (US,EU,UK) don’t tax non-alcoholic beer. Because of this the domestic industry in those jurisdictions has flourished, offering consumers more choice and at better prices. Their sane tax policy, coupled with increased consumer demand, is in large part why the non-alcoholic beer market is expected to grow to over $4 billion by 2025. These drinks aren’t just for hipsters, designated drivers and pregnant women anymore.

Lastly, and most importantly, is how non-alcoholic beer is yet another example of new products reducing harm for consumers. And while I don’t personally enjoy these drinks, I can see why someone would still want to enjoy a beer with their friends, or at a bar, without the alcohol that comes along with it.

From a harm reduction perspective, it makes perfect sense to have different tax strategies for products that vary in risk. The Trudeau government, at times, has championed harm reduction for illegal drugs but appears to have a blind spot when it comes to legal substances. This is an uncomfortable trend from Ottawa that is perfectly exemplified by the excise tax on non-alcoholic beer. Ottawa has kept the excise tax system for non-smokable THC cannabis products, like edibles and beverages, despite the fact they are significantly less harmful. They’ve sought to ban vape flavours, despite the fact that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking, and flavours are an incredibly useful tool for adult smokers trying to quit.

Across the board, we should expect better from Ottawa, and the tax on non-alcoholic beer is yet another example of where they’ve gotten it wrong. Hopefully, come Budget 2022, they can correct this mistake and remove the excise tax from these products entirely.

David Clement is a columnist for the Western Standard and the North American Affairs Manager with the Consumer Choice Center

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EXCLUSIVE: 2003 hearing ruled Chu’s accuser ‘not to be believed’

“I find her evidence not to be believed and I was not able to consider her evidence when deciding a sentence.”

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The accuser at the centre of the embattled Calgary Coun. Sean Chu controversy told a hearing he sexually assaulted her while holding a gun to her head, according to documents obtained by the Western Standard.

But the presiding officer at the police disciplinary hearing, Insp. Debbie Middleton-Hope, said the then 16-year-old minor’s testimony was not credible and not to be believed.

The sentencing hearing took place Jan. 31, 2003 and lasted eight minutes.

Chu did admit to caressing the woman’s leg while in uniform at the King’s Head pub on Macleod Tr. after meeting her while conducting a walk-through patrol in August of 1997.

After his shift, Chu went home to change into civilian clothes before returning to the pub to meet the girl.

Middleton-Hope said in her statement that Chu provided investigators with intimate details of sexual contact the pair had when they returned to his home.

“I find Const. Chu to be forthright in his description of the details and I find his evidence to be believed,” said Middleton-Hope, a long-serving, well-respected Calgary policewoman, now retired.

The woman, in turn, denied Chu had caressed her leg.

“… her evidence was directed on an aggressive, physical struggle at which time a gun was held to her head,” said Middleton-Hope.

But Middleton-Hope said she found the woman’s testimony “inconsistent.”

“Under cross-examination (the woman) had difficulty in recalling pertinent details,” said Middleton-Hope.

“I find her evidence not to be believed and I was not able to consider her evidence when deciding a sentence.”

Middleton-Hope also addressed the age of the woman, who was 16 at the time.

“I have no evidence before me Const. Chu was aware of this fact. Several witnesses said [the girl] appeared to be 19 to 21 years old,” she ruled.

The accuser also testified she had an interaction with Chu two years previous after an altercation at school. Chu wasn’t the investigating officer, but did speak to the girl on the phone.

“…and [received] a Christmas card from her as a result of that phone call,” Middleton-Hope said.

“No evidence was presented that Constable Chu was aware of her age from this verbal contact.

“I believe Constable Chu to be sincere when he indicates he was unsuspecting of [the accusers] exact age.”

Middletin-Hope then ordered Chu have a letter of reprimand on his file for discreditable conduct for caressing the accuser’s leg while on duty.

Chu was also ordered to undergo six months of ethics training.

Middleton-Hope noted performance reviews in his 10-year police career described Chu as “hard working” and “highly motivated.”

For the third time, Chu was elected on October 18 to be the councillor for Ward 4. He won by 100 votes, winning the advance poll, but losing on election day. Documents over the case had been leaked to the media just days before the election in what Chu called a “political assassination.”

There have been a chorus of demands from other politicians for Chu to resign and a byelection called. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, incoming Calgary mayor Jyoti Gondek and most of the incoming council have demanded Chu resign.

Chu said he would be happy to meet with Mayor-Elect Gondek to discuss the situation.

Dueling protests — one for Chu and one against — are planned in front of city hall on Sunday.

Chu has vowed to not resign and wants to clear his name.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean any harm,” Chu told the Western Standard in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.

Chu admits there was “some touching underneath clothes” in the 1997 incident.

“She then said she wanted to go home and I drove her straight there.”

Chu denied media reports that a gun was produced during the evening at his home. He said he checked his service weapon in at the police’s traffic office when he signed off duty.

“If there had been a gun involved there would have been charges,” said Chu.

Documents obtained by the Western Standard and other media indicate that the woman claimed the whole process was a “cover-up.”

Chu served as a Calgary police officer from 1992 until he was elected in 2013.

Now Chu said he is looking at his legal options and a possible defamation suit over some of what he called the false reporting.

“I have always told the truth. My reputation is important to me and now my family is hurting,” said Chu.

Chu said he wouldn’t comment on remarks made by Gondek that she will try and remove him from council.

“I will continue to tell the truth at council and will be a fiscal hawk,” he said.

“The most important thing is I told the truth and the truth will prevail.”

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

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TV news mistakes leads to censure

“The details were clearly inaccurate and related to historical facts,” wrote the Canada Broadcast Standards Council.

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A St. John’s TV station breached newsroom ethics when it put out a report containing mistakes, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

The TV station was censured for garbling a handful of facts in a local story.

“The details were clearly inaccurate and related to historical facts,” wrote the Canada Broadcast Standards Council.

Correct information “could have been easily verified by the reporter prior to airing the news segment,” wrote the Council.

NTV on its flagship suppertime newscast last April 26 broadcast a story on a local parole case that misstated the year of the crime, the date the killer was convicted, and the number of years the murderer served in the penitentiary.

“This whole story was riddled with inconsistencies,” complained one viewer.

“He was charged and convicted in 2003. They reported 2002.

“These facts were not factual. There were four mistakes in the story.”

NTV management apologized and acknowledged errors were made as the story was “rushed to air” but denied any breach of newsroom ethics.

“Although we do not believe our coverage of this story was in breach of any industry guidelines or codes, we understand every individual may view news material or programming from a different perspective,” wrote station managers.

The Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ Code Of Ethics states, “It shall be the responsibility of broadcasters to ensure that news shall be represented with accuracy.”

A similar Code Of Journalistic Ethics by the Radio Television Digital News Association states: “We are committed to journalism in the public interest that is accurate and reliable.”

“There was no deliberate attempt by NTV to change the narrative of this story which focused on the revocation of the parole of the convicted murderer,” wrote the Standards Council.

“It is understandable that in a rush to get the story to air, incorrect pieces of information were used.”

“Journalists should strive to verify facts and put them in context. These inaccuracies constitute breaches.”

There are no fines for breaching TV codes. The station must announce the violation on its newscast.

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