Crown Drops Charges on James Coates, Likely Fearing the Case Overturning Health Measures

Written By Karl Fluri, Posted on March 18, 2021

GraceLife Church Pastor James Coates was charged on February 7th for holding services that violated COVID-19 orders, he was charged again for holding services on the 14th, after which he turned himself in. Pastor Coates was then taken into custody on the 16th for refusing to agree with bail conditions, conditions which would demand that he stop holding “overcapacity” services and that everyone maintain physical distancing.

Coates’ lawyers made an appeal in early March, arguing that not leading the church to its fullest capacity, before God, would go against the pastor’s conscience.


A ruling from Justice Peter Michalyshyn, following arguments made by crown lawyers that the pastor’s release would endanger the public, sought to keep him in jail until his trial which is scheduled to run from May 3rd to May 5th, 2021. In a statement Justice Michalyshyn said,

The law that Mr. Coates clearly intends not to be bound by remains valid and enforceable against him. Mr. Coates’s strongly held religious beliefs and convictions do not overcome those valid and enforceable laws

In a news release, Edmonton Police stated that GraceLife Church was further charged as they failed to adhere to the 15% maximum allowed capacity for indoor gatherings. The church was charged for gatherings that took place on February 21 and 28, 2021. Services that took place without Pastor Coates, who remains in jail after over a month.

GraceLife continues to hold services despite the continued accumulation of charges by the church itself in Pastor Coates’ absence. 

(Photo from Global News)

(Photo from Global News)

Coates’ legal council announced today that the crown will be dropping all but one charge against their client, Pastor Coates is likely to be released very soon. In a press release, the legal council stated,

The Justice Centre today announced that Crown Prosecutors have agreed to withdraw all but one of the Public Health Act offences that Pastor James Coates has been charged with. The Justice Centre expects Pastor Coates will be released from jail in the coming days, without any conditions, pending his May 3-5 trial in Provincial Court

Crown prosecutors have agreed that Pastor Coates can be released without conditions, the Justice Centre also says the Crown will be withdrawing all but one of the Public Health Act charges and the criminal charge in connection with bail conditions; Pastor Coates is instead being charged $100 for breaching the condition, which he has agreed to pay.


In his statement on Wednesday Justice Centre president John Carpay said,

The condition that Pastor Coates effectively stop doing his job as a pastor by adhering to unscientific and unconstitutional public health restrictions should never have been imposed on him by the RCMP, or by the court.

We look forward to appearing in court in May and demanding the government provide evidence that public health restrictions that violate the freedoms of religion, peaceful assembly, expression and association are scientific and are justifiable in a free and democratic country.

It appears as though the Justice Centre is fairly confident in their case against the crown as they believe these health mandates to be quite clearly unconstitutional, in another statement adding

The single charge remaining has not been withdrawn, as the Justice Centre and Pastor Coates want the matter heard at trial, to determine the constitutionality of the public health order that churches only hold worship services at 15 per cent capacity, and to compel the government to produce scientific evidence that might support these violations of Charter freedoms.

Many Albertans, and Canadians, have been quite vocal in their support for the pastor, we’ve seen petitions and contact campaigns draw the attention of thousands. Even individuals who generally don’t engage with, or defend, religious groups have joined in this fight, which they see as a battle for the constitutional rights of Canadians.


This case by the Justice Centre is not just a fight for the release of Pastor Coates, but would affect the outcome for any and all Albertans and potentially Canadians being charged under these types of local health mandates.

The Crown likely dropped most of the charges on Pastor Coates due to the threat of having all the provinces lockdown mandates, and restrictions being ruled illegitimate in a court of law, but the government doesn’t want to drop every charge just yet in order to pretend for a while longer than Coates had done anything wrong in the first place. It would not be a shock if later all charges against Pastor Coates were dropped and the government quietly stops going after him, his church, and all other religious organizations for frivolous health order “violations”.

Regardless, the outcome is bound to be an interesting development.

Karl Fluri

6 responses to “Crown Drops Charges on James Coates, Likely Fearing the Case Overturning Health Measures”

  1. Christian Moehling says:

    Wonderful all round….maybe reason logic& real science will prevail.

  2. Gerald England says:

    Kudos Pastor Coates! Insist on your day in court. They can’t just file a bunch of phoney baloney charges and then just let it go away because they’re losing the popularity contest.

  3. Amy Bradley says:

    I wonder if the people who support Pastor Coates would also support other public gatherings:
    teens who need to socialize and party for their mental health, large groups of sports participants (for physical health), witches and wickens for spiritual health. The list could go on and on. Why does one group of individuals feel that it is above the law?

    • Dan Kerr says:

      I don’t think any group is above the law… all those things you mention should be happening: Sports, Parties etc.

  4. Jaclyn Whitt says:

    Amy Bradley, I totally think all of those groups you mentioned should open up. Whether I participate in it or not is irrelevant. The issue isn’t that the church thinks they’re above the law, it’s that they have the guts to see government overreach for what it is and stand up to it. The government is being a bully and whether it was a church, a mosque, or whatever other group, it’s important that someone have the guts to stand up for what’s right, even at the risk of unlawful imprisonment.

  5. Robert Giebelhaus says:

    The same Honourable Justice used 81 pages of false, unfiled, rejected, intentionally uncontested via his hand signal, Affidavit evidence without the required fiat, to do a Pretrial and Prejudgment Seizure and Sale of two seniors farmland. Thereby enriching opposing Counsel, his realtor across the hall, and his Appraiser a short walk down the street. Falsified Court forms, ex parte communications, and attempts to have the Respondent held in Contempt of Court by misleading them into believing an offer would be made before further Court Appearances. The Pastor was lucky compared to others.