TORONTO. July 7, 2021.The Canadian Association for Free Expression (CAFE) held a protest outside the Toronto South Detention Centre located at 160 Horner Ave, Toronto, ON M8Z 0C2, Wednesday afternoon, July 7, from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m.

As of today, Dr. Sears has been in jail for over three weeks.
* In January, 2019, Dr. Sears, Editor, and Leroy St. Germaine, Publisher of the satirical tabloid YOUR WARD NEWS were convicted on two counts of “wilfully promoting hate” against privileged groups (Jews  & Women) in contravention of Canada’s notorious “hate law” – Sec. 319 of the Criminal Code. Each was sentenced to the maximum — unprecedented for a first time offender — of a year in jail. As Leroy is of Metis heritage, he was allowed to serve his sentence at home.

* In November, 2020, under protest, Dr. Sears and Leroy St. Germaine argued their appeal by Zoom

* On June 14, the appeal was denied and the sentences upheld. Dr. Sears was immediately ordered to prison and denied even a few hours to say goodbye to his wife and young son.

* From prison , Dr. Sears is seeking leave to appeal. A judge is studying the leave application and a parallel application for bail, pending the appeal. The process is ponderously slow.

* Dr. Sears is virtually incommunicado. He has contacted his wife or supporters only three times in three weeks.

* Amnesty International defines a  “prisoner of conscience” or political prisoner as  a person punished solely for the non-violent expression of their political, religious or cultural views. Both Dr. James Sears and Leroy St. Germaine are political prisoners — jailed because they criticized politically powerful minority groups.

* A lasting disgrace is that only one mainstream media writer has  criticized this attack on freedom of the press, which they regularly condemn if it occurs in Hong Kong or the Philippines.



Jim and Diane Present – Jim Speaks with PAUL FROMM CONCERNING THE JAMES SEARS CASE as well as Life In Canada, July 6, 2021

VVV, James Sears, July 5, 2021.PNG

Send letters of support to one of our “men behind the wire”:  
Dr. James Sears, Political Prisoner,
Toronto South Detention Center,
160 Horner Ave,
Toronto, ON
M8Z 0C2

_______________________CAFE (The Canadian Association for Free Expression)P.O. Box 332,Rexdale, ON.,M9W 5L3

Jim and Diane Present – Jim Speaks with PAUL FROMM CONCERNING THE JAMES SEARS CASE as well as Life In Canada, July 6, 2021

Jim and Diane Present – Jim Speaks with PAUL FROMM CONCERNING THE JAMES SEARS CASE as well as Life In Canada, July 6, 2021

VVV, James Sears, July 5, 2021.PNG

Jim talks with Canadian Activist Paul Fromm about the case:

Send letters:  
Dr. James Sears, Political Prisoner,
Toronto South Detention Center,
160 Horner Ave,
Toronto, ON
M8Z 0C2


Bill C-10 dies – for now – as Senate adjourns for summer without vote

Bill C-10 dies – for now – as Senate adjourns for summer without vote

By True North Wire – July 3, 2021 Facebook Twitter Pinterest WhatsApp Linkedin

The Liberal government’s internet regulation Bill C-10 has been put on hold after the Senate rose for the summer before voting on the controversial bill.

On Tuesday, the Senate decided to rise for the summer break, immediately halting all outstanding legislation which had not been passed.

If an election is called before Bill C-10 is reintroduced, the bill will die and a future government would have to introduce it again.

Bill C-10 passed its third reading in the House of Commons Tuesday morning by a vote of 196 to 112: only the Conservatives and independents Jody Wilson-Raybould and Derek Sloan opposed it.

If passed, Bill C-10 would have significant implications on internet freedom, as the bill gives the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) unprecedented power to regulate online publishers, including social media users.

Despite the Liberals’ efforts to push C-10 into law, the upper house refused to speed up the process. Both progressive and Conservative senators offered various criticisms of C-10, many saying they would not vote in favour.

On Tuesday, Senator Pamela Wallin pledged to stall C-10 until the summer recess could be called, saying the upper house is not obligated to pass government legislation without proper debate.

“The government has had six years to pass legislation it wants. It is not our job in the Senate to rubber stamp and give up our constitutional responsibilities just because they want fodder for an election- especially if it means killing free speech,” she said. 

Conservative Senator Leo Housakos told CBC that the Senate had no interest in rushing through a bill which, in his opinion, gives unlimited power to a government body to control the content Canadians can see online.

“The core problem with this bill is that it takes the regulatory tools designated for a small, fixed number of licensed TV and radio stations in the 1990s and attempts to apply it to the vast universe of the internet in the 2020s,” he said.

“In doing so, it gives the CRTC an unprecedented delegation of power with no clear framework or definitions as to how it will be used. This lack of clear limits on what can be regulated is a fundamental problem with this bill.”

Nationalists Celebrate Dominion Day With Paul Fromm

Nationalists Celebrate Dominion Day With Paul Fromm

The Red Ensign, the Flag of the Real Canada
Noon END THE LOCKDOWN Rally With People’s Party of Canada at Niagara Falls

Fantastic Dominion Day. I attended a noon NO MORE LOCKDOWN Rally in Niagara Falls. Later, a great group of nationalists met. Not a guilt-ridden soul in the lot. You could hear English, French, German, Italian, Romanian, Czech & Slovenian. My grilled burgers were pronounced delicious

CAFE Joins Traditionalist Catholics to Protest the Removal of Msgr. Keenan Who Defended the Church & Residential Schools

CAFE Joins Traditionalist Catholics to Protest the Removal of Msgr. Keenan Who Defended the Church & Residential Schools

TORONTO. June 29, 2021. About two dozen supporters of CAFE joined Traditionalist Catholics outside the Chancery of the Archdiocese of Toronto to protest the removal of Msgr Owen Keenan of Mississauga who delivered his online sermon two weeks ago denouncing media anti-Catholic bias and supporting the positive role played by residential schools in the education of young Indians. He also opposed the flying of the rainbow Gay Pride flag at Catholics schools.

Msgr. Keenan’s remarks that spooked Thomas Cardinal Collins into firing him as pastor of Merciful Redeemer Church in Mississauga and putting him on an indefinite leave of absence included: “Two-thirds of the country is blaming the church, which we love, for the tragedies that occurred there,” he said in a clip of the sermon posted to Reddit. “Now I presume that the same number would thank the church for the good that was done in those schools, but of course, that question was never asked and in fact, we are not allowed to even say that good was done in those schools.”  Also, ” ‘Many people had very positive experiences at residential schools. Many people received health care and education and joyous experiences. They weren’t universally awful.’ 

“Cancel culture has come to the Catholic Church,” said Paul Fromm, Director of the Canadian Association for Free Expression. “When honesty and balance about the residential schools are necessities, Cardinal Collins has done the cowardly, expedient thing, appeased the rabidly anti-Catholic Fake News media, and thrown a loyal defender of the Church under the bus. Msgr. Keenan was doing the jobs Canada’s bishops should have been doing, explaining how the teachers in the residential schools sought to educate and better the Indian children and that the very likely cause of the bulk of the deaths at these schools was tuberculosis and flu, especially the deadly Spanish Flu, which killed 50,000 Canadians.”
Many passersby were impressed both by the arguments and by the fact that none of the protesters were wearing masks at the sweltering, humid mid-day protest.

One sour note: A balding, portly security guard emerged from the building to confront one of the rally spokesmen. He threatened to call the police if protesters strayed off the public sidewalk onto the concrete apron in front of the building. He threatened to call the police — to deal with a peaceful protest. He went right up in the face of one of the traditional Catholics. He was told to back off. Under COVID rules people are supposed to keep six feet distance. The bullying guard accused people of not wearing masks. He was told it was outdoors and they weren’t required.
Shortly afterwards two Metropolitan Toronto Police arrived on bicycles. After a short discussion, they were assured of the purpose of the protest and eventually moved off.

Bumptious security guard confronts protesters

Ridiculous procedural excuse to boot Adamson case out of Court

Ridiculous procedural excuse to boot Adamson case out of Court

You mean to tell me that his team of topflight lawyers FORGOT ? to put in a Notice of Constitutional Question? !
I hardly think so.

This is only the beginning. The tyrants who have trampled our rights these last 15 months simply don’t want this case to see the light of day.

In November 2020, Skelly’s restaurant in west Toronto became a high-profile flashpoint when he defied orders to close indoor dining to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Anti-lockdown protesters clashed with police, who arrived in large numbers to enforce compliance.

Skelly became an early focus of anti-lockdown anger. He maintains the order and the government’s response were unjustified and unconstitutional.

The city sought a court order restraining Skelly and his company, Adamson Barbecue Limited, from contravening the Reopening Ontario Act, the province’s regulations on what can and cannot be done in the fight against the virus that causes COVID-19.

That restraining order, opposed by Skelly, is what brought the parties to court Monday, but for Skelly, it was about far more than his ability to serve food without government permission.

Supporters gather and barbecue outside Adamson Barbecue on Nov. 27, 2020.
Supporters gather and barbecue outside Adamson Barbecue on Nov. 27, 2020. Photo by Ernest Doroszuk/Postmedia

Leading up to Monday’s hearing, Adamson Barbeque’s website was pushing his legal case along with his brisket and short ribs, a court challenge branded the “the BBQ Rebellion.”

“My lawsuit has very little to do with my restaurant. It is a constitutional question of the Reopening Ontario Act, and the evidence (or lack thereof) used to justify it,” Skelly said in a written statement prior to the hearing’s start.

“If this challenge is successful, entrepreneurs can reopen their restaurants, bars, gyms and salons, children can go back to school, and everyone can gather together to celebrate, mourn and worship.”

He refers to it as Canada’s most important constitutional case.

“My lawyers tell me that the courts tend to rule with public opinion. While the tides are turning, the media won’t report any counter-narrative, so much of the public consciousness in Canada is still blanketed by fear. I’ve done the best I can to disseminate this information, the rest is up to us on the big day,” he wrote to supporters.

In response, his case attracted a rush of interest.

People logging in to watch the online hearing quickly exceeded the maximum capacity of 500 long before court started, meaning there wasn’t room for the judge or the province’s lead lawyer to be let into the hearing.

Most observers seemed to be Skelly supporters. One man was wearing a gas mask until the court asked cameras be turned off to reduce broadcast bandwidth. The online names of some observers included Open Ontario, Ontario Stands with Adam, WhoDoYouServe, GoAdamGo, Dr. Freedom, SeeThe Truth and Let’s Go Adam!!!!.

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A plea from the court registrar for some to volunteer to leave eventually allowed the judicial participants in, and for the hearing to convene.

Observers didn’t get the fireworks or debate they had hoped for. Instead, they got a muted argument over judicial jurisdiction.

Zachary Green, representing the province of Ontario, argued there was no procedural basis to entertain Skelly’s constitutional objections.

He said Skelly has not embarked on any court application claiming relief against the province, he has only contested Ontario’s motion against him and his restaurant. Green said that violates established rules of procedure.

In court materials, the province said Skelly’s wide objections about the COVID response — called “far-fetched grievances” — far exceed the scope of the government’s action against him, which is only to close his restaurant, when everyone is told to, for health reasons.

“Indeed, they are vexatious,” the government’s court filing says.

Michael Swinwood, representing Skelly, replied that the constitutional element of Skelly’s defence has been clear from the start. If the province objected to his constitutional questions, they should have asked a judge to strike them out of their reply to the court.

“It is straightforward, and we complied with what was asked of us,” Swinwood told court.

Pre-trial procedures, including judicial case management conferences and the examination and cross-examination of expert witnesses, went ahead arguing the wider constitutional issues without any complaint or objection from the province, he said.

“It was always understood to be a notice for constitutional relief,” Swinwood said.

In court materials, Swinwood said the government’s responses to COVID-19 were not based on scientific principles or respect for human rights and are more intrusive than available alternatives.

“The epidemic of fear has ruled people and governments, and not sound scientific analysis,” Skelly’s materials say.

Judge Jasmine Akbarali, of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, briefly adjourned court to deliberate before returning with her verdict.

“I regret to say, I do not think I have the jurisdiction to proceed to deal with these issues on their merits today,” she said.

“I do not think the hearing has been constituted in such a way to give me that jurisdiction, and it is in nobody’s interest to go ahead with the two-day hearing that is easily vulnerable on appeal on the basis that I didn’t have jurisdiction.”

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Written reasons were to be issued later.

Supporters of Skelly seemed upset with the ruling.

“Bullshit,” said one to the court. “This is injustice,” said another. The hearing was terminated just as many others were unmuting their microphones.

After court, Skelly’s lawyer expressed dissatisfaction with the outcome.

“The courts have no appetite for constitutional challenges to COVID-19 lockdowns and protocols,” Swinwood told National Post.

“Technical procedure is to rule over substance. Our freedoms are in peril and the court refused to take jurisdiction over the matter despite the rules that are designed to be flexible so that serious matters can be heard and not summarily dealt with.

“There is something deeply amiss,” he said.

Green deferred to the Ministry of the Attorney General’s spokesman for comment on the case. The ministry declined to comment, “as this matter is before the court,” said spokesman Brian Gray.

On Twitter, Adamson Barbecue’s branded account has been railing against COVID restrictions and related issues, including vaccinations, which they call “experimental gene therapy.”

The matter is expected to return to court at a later date, once a constitutional application is filed in the court.

‘We are entering very dark times’ – Nick Hudson on censorship; FMF award


‘We are entering very dark times’ – Nick Hudson on censorship; FMF award

by Claire Badenhorst

The Free Market Foundation has presented its very first award to PANDA co-founder Nick Hudson for freedom of expression, decentralisation, and an evolutionary approach. Alec Hogg caught up with Hudson to unpack what the award means to him and the rest of the PANDA team. “It’s been a long, hard struggle and a lot of the people at PANDA have put up with enormous risks and challenges to their livelihoods and careers,” Hudson explains. “So to have this recognition for them I think is particularly welcome and important.” – Claire Badenhorst

Nick Hudson on the award PANDA received from the Free Market Foundation:

It was a delightful surprise, yes, and we had a wonderful evening last night with a fairly lengthy presentation and [I] thoroughly enjoyed it. I think true to their colours, they were looking at the work that PANDA had done and our fight against dogma and a very bigoted version of science, and I think they saw in that something that was consistent with the values of their organisation, and I think it was on that basis that the citation reads as it does and they decided that the members of PANDA deserved the recognition and it was very welcome. You know, it’s been a long, hard struggle and a lot of the people at PANDA have put up with enormous risks and challenges to their livelihoods and careers. So to have this recognition for them I think is particularly welcome and important.

On why people at PANDA are under pressure:

There’s a very strange authoritarian aspect that has infiltrated our academic institutions and public health institutions and this notion of science as an authoritarian concept, as there being such a thing as settled science, as science is something that you should follow, almost a trademarked ‘the science’ kind of concept. And it’s very antithetical to what science is actually about, which is conjecture and criticism, dissent and debate, driving the formation of new knowledge, the creation of new knowledge. It’s in that authoritarian environment where somebody who looks at the data has a different interpretation and sees the world differently from the average person. You know, they’re at risk of being cancelled and censured and bullied, really, by these people who are doing something that couldn’t, in any normal world, be described as scientific.

Well, it’s symptomatic of the really weird thinking of a lot of our critics because none of what we have to say is anything to deny the existence of Coronavirus. Our perspective from the beginning has been that the response has been disproportionate and later on the response has actually worsened the situation. So it’s rather strange to attack people who take this perspective and support it with data and quality scientific perspectives and somehow refute it by things getting very bad in a country that has had amongst the most insane policy responses on the planet.

On why he says our policy responses were insane:

We have adopted policies which were already evidently not working in the rest of the world. It didn’t take a lot to look at the emergent data. We did it a year ago. And since then, around 50 papers have been published showing that the stringent restrictions that have been imposed have done nothing. They, of course, have lots of collateral damage involved and they worsen the public health outcomes in that regard but it’s been quite patently clear for more than a year now that lockdowns, which were ruled out by all prior policy guidelines for respiratory virus policies, have indeed been a bad idea and that those guidelines ruled them out for good reason. It’s not a very contentious thing to be saying. The contentious thing to say is that lockdowns are good and that they should continue. That is the novel and unusual thing to be saying and it’s been proven wrong systematically through the entire course of this pandemic. There isn’t a single country’s curve where we can see the beneficial impact or the imposition of restrictions or mask mandates or the detrimental effect of the release of those restrictions or mask mandates. And it’s just been astonishing to me.

You know, when Texas opened up and said, that’s it, no more mask mandates, no more lockdowns, these guys on the other side of the debate called them Neanderthals, predicted disaster and it’s been months now and absolutely nothing has happened. You would think that at some point these pro-lockdown people would start to eat some humble pie and stop encouraging policymakers to enact these restrictions.

On the third wave in Gauteng: 

Yeah, it’s a terrible situation. It just wouldn’t be made any better by continuing with mask mandates or going to Level 5 or whatever. I mean, there’s just no evidence for that claim being valid. And, you know, your heart goes out to anybody who’s in that kind of position of having to make these life and death decisions, but I believe very firmly that we’re in this situation precisely because we locked down so hard at the beginning. It would have been much better for us to have pursued the effective strategy of countries like Sweden.

The other thing that’s relevant here and not being talked about enough is that there appears to be a quite high representation among the sick people who are recently vaccinated. And that is not being analysed and discussed enough because that’s another area that is profoundly censored but it’s a conversation that has to be had. We see all around the world resurgences in Coronavirus deaths that coincide with the inception of mass vaccination plans. We have our theories as to what may be causing that and those theories may be wrong but the discussion should be had. Instead, what we get is this blanket silence with no debate happening and everything that we learn has leaked out of official forums and that kind of thing.

On what PANDA stands for: 

So we stand for proportionality in response and the importance of conducting cost-benefit analysis before conducting massively impactful restrictions, number one. Number two, we have since the very beginning pointed out that these non-pharmaceutical interventions by and large just haven’t shown any benefit in the data and that the one that held a lot of promise, which was to concentrate on ventilation, especially in hospital and nursing home settings, to reduce the viral titers in the air in their settings was one thing that was really worth paying attention to. That’s only been belatedly acknowledged by the World Health Organisation in the last few weeks. Both the World Health Organisation and the CDC have quietly slipped onto their websites paragraphs saying that, yes, airborne aerosol transmission is an important component of transmission of Coronavirus, and the World Health Organisation for the first time made a nod in the direction of the importance of maintaining good infection control by use of improved ventilation. We’ve been saying that since May last year. Now it gets recognised. Instead, people continue running around doing all the things that they did when WHO initially emphasised fomites and droplet transmission – all the sanitising, all the social distancing stickers, the weird little bits of Plexiglass and so on are still what you see when you walk around. Those are, in our minds, just a completely poor effort in light of the scientific evidence that’s emerged.

On the effectiveness of mask-wearing: 

I mean the intuition is, yes, that some percentage of the droplets, the larger droplets would be stopped by a mask – but that’s only a one-stage analysis. The next stage is, once large droplets have been stopped by your mask and you exhale over those droplets, you cause them to turn into aerosols which stay suspended in the air. That’s also not a very difficult intuition to grasp and it’s a better one because it’s consistent with the data, which, as I say and have repeatedly said, is consistent with there being no benefit to a slight harm from the imposition of mask mandates.

I don’t think you should wear a mask. It’s a kind of fantastical idea that viral transmission of respiratory viruses will be stopped by cloth masks. Even the idea that surgical masks are effective is extremely contentious and seems only to be valid to a small degree in the highly controlled settings where the masks are fitted and worn by qualified professionals. There’s modest evidence in favour of those but there’s absolutely nothing to support the effectiveness of cloth masks. The experiments that have supposedly been done to support them are all highly contrived and the European CDC, which did an analysis of the studies that had been conducted, came to the conclusion that all the evidence in favour of mask-wearing was of no evidentiary quality and most of it reflected strong bias. And, you know, you can’t really argue with an analysis like that.

On Covid censorship and the oppression of free speech:

From the start, this whole response to Coronavirus has adopted a decidedly technocratic securicrat surveillance-type tone with oppression of free speech, with all sorts of impositions on liberties and rights that are considered the norm in democratic societies. We’ve been promised time and time again that it was just temporary and that it was two weeks or three weeks or until the vulnerable had been vaccinated or until whatever. The goalposts just keep moving. It should be clear to any thinking person that what we are seeing is an assault on liberal values and it’s not done in the interest of public health. It’s not about a virus.

I think the thing that’s not entering the public discourse nearly enough is the extent to which our institutions of media and public health have been captured by a handful of entities, with the effect that neither the journalists nor the scientists could even speak out if they disagreed with the policies or conventional narratives of the times. And that is just becoming more and more evident by the day. Editorial policy is not free and scientific opinion is not free. So we are entering, I think, very dark times. And this is one of the the hushed-up stories.

There are elements of ideology and culture that I think are the easiest ones to describe. Our universities for decades now have been teaching the completely bogus narrative of postmodernism, of critical theory. This is where wokeness comes from in all its manifestations. This is where safety culture and cancel culture come from. They are fundamentally illiberal ideas. They are fundamentally unscientific ideas. And we can’t get too surprised when we see that our culture is full of people who behave in this fashion. So that’s my starting point, is to talk about ideology. But we also need to look at, as I say, at the influence of some of these super national organisations and the degree to which they have captured our institutions. You cannot find a single mainstream scientist who is not subject to that kind of pressure and who could actually speak out even if they decided that they disagreed with what is being done.

The central question is, why is there no discussion? Why is there no debate? Why are critics of public policy not being engaged with openly and in the public eye? And there are several reasons for this. First of all, there’s this stranglehold that these supernational organisations have, which we’ve already spoken about and secondly, there’s a problem in the culture – an ideological problem – that is antithetical to normal scientific discourse. But thirdly, a lot of these scientists are in very conflicted positions and one of the main reasons they will not entertain debate is they are fully aware that those conflicts will be exposed. So I see it as a three-fold problem that’s very serious and very costly to our society.

On what happens to PANDA next:

We carry on fighting. With every passing day, people come around to our view and begin challenging the narrative that they’ve been fed. They begin seeing that what public health officials all around the world have done is to promote a narrative of fear – fear that causes people to possess a completely distorted perception of risk. The fear is always going in one direction, which is towards overestimating risk and, you know, in those circumstances, it’s terminal to critical thinking and to the ability to make wise decisions and evaluate risk appropriately. So what we see is with every passing day, people wake up one by one and once they’ve woken up, once they come in the direction of open science, in the direction of facts, data and evidence over this very false narrative, it’s an absorptive state. They never turn around and go back into the fear mindset. We don’t see people who have sat down with us and gone through the information in the cold light of day, looking at our perspectives, you know, from a calm and considered perspective, we don’t see those people suddenly waking up the next morning and and wetting the bed. So we believe that that will just continue, that it’s a slow and gradual process of bringing people back to sanity, back to a sense of proportionality and perspective.

I suspect the organisation will remain involved in science rather than gravitate towards politics because it’s not only public health that is subject to this kind of very almost Stalinist approach and culture. I think as we go the frame of reference will expand. The very important thing is that for a lot of the scientists who are involved, many of whom have to be cryptically involved, PANDA represents an absolute lifeline. It connects them back to the science that they first fell in love with and it seems to me that in many ways, PANDA presents the only place to them where they are able to have open debate and discussion with their colleagues, where they’re allowed to be wrong without being shouted at and allowed to learn and change their minds. The scientists appear really to enjoy that. Our weekly open science meetings are now so well attended that we’re thinking of having to break them up into channels. And it’s really a joy to be involved in that because the rest of the week we confronted by this shouty, woke kind of attitude that seems so disconnected from the real world and from the data. So it’s almost as if PANDA has become an oasis for people who love science as opposed to, you know, loving dogma.

On the team at PANDA: 

I guess it would be much more depressing if I didn’t have access to such wonderful people and if I wasn’t able to tap the brains of these guys to understand what’s going on. And I mean, the last week was a case to point, again, something not mentioned anywhere in the mainstream media because it runs in the face of the narrative but very big news.

A scientist has managed to uncover the deleted sequences from the database of genetic variants of Covid, which has been a source of great suspicion and head-scratching for us. There was in this database a move taken by a Chinese scientist to delete sequences which he had uploaded. Now, this guy managed to track those sequences back, they were originally up in the cloud and they turned out not to have been entirely deleted. And so he managed to discover these sequences and what they reveal is fascinating because it shines a light on the much larger diversity of the cluster of viruses that you would describe as the SARS viruses. It raises the question that we’ve been saying is suggested by the epidemiological data of whether this virus wasn’t actually around much earlier than the December 2019 Wuhan outbreak. It could quite possibly, based on these phylogenetic trees, have been around for years before and that highlights the craziness of the policies we’ve been pursuing. If it wasn’t even noticed, if there was no epidemic being spoken about, when the cluster of viruses was in broad circulation, then that would really draw the line under efforts to speak of lockdown appropriateness or effectivenes

U.S. senator Josh Hawley wants Canada on religious freedom watch list over pastor COVID-19 arrests

U.S. senator Josh Hawley wants Canada on religious freedom watch list over pastor COVID-19 arrests

Bob Weber The Canadian Press Published 2 days ago Updated 2 days ago Comments Text Size % buffered 00:00

Supporters gather outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church appears in court after he was arrested for holding Sunday services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Stony Plain, Alta., on Feb. 24, 2021. JASON FRANSON/The Canadian Press

A U.S. senator has asked that Canada be investigated for violating religious freedom over the arrests of Alberta pastors accused of flouting COVID-19 restrictions.

In a letter released Thursday, Missouri Republican Josh Hawley asked his country’s Commission on International Religious Freedom to consider putting Canada on its special watch list.

“I am troubled that our Canadian neighbours are effectively being forced to gather in secret, undisclosed locations to exercise their basic freedom to worship,” Mr. Hawley wrote.

“Frankly, I would expect this sort of religious crackdown in Communist China, not in a prominent western nation like Canada.”

Judge dismisses charter application of Alberta pastor on trial for violating health orders

Mr. Hawley refers in his letter to the arrests of Alberta pastors James Coates and Tim Stephens.

Mr. Coates spent a month in the Edmonton Remand Centre after he violated a bail condition not to hold church services that officials said were ignoring COVID-19 measures on capacity limits, physical distancing and masking. He was released March 22 after pleading guilty and was fined $1,500.

Mr. Coates, who is a pastor at GraceLife Church in Spruce Grove, has argued provincial regulations meant to curb the spread of COVID-19 infringed on his and his congregants’ constitutional right to freedom of religion and peaceful assembly.

Earlier this month, a judge ruled his religious freedoms under the Charter were not violated.

Mr. Stephens remains in remand after being arrested last week following repeated public complaints over an outdoor service that officials say broke public-health orders. Calgary police and Alberta Health Services allege that Stephens of Fairview Baptist Church chose to keep holding services without respecting orders on physical distancing and capacity limits, even after his church had been twice ordered closed.

Litigation director Jay Cameron of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, which is representing Mr. Stephens, has accused Alberta Health Services in a statement of being “engaged in an intentional act of public deception and abuse of authority in arresting pastor Stephens and others.”