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Sunday, October 1, 2023

Churches file Supreme Court application – Winnipeg Free Press

Five Manitoba churches are seeking to take their fight against government-ordered pandemic restrictions to Canada’s highest court.

The churches, along with three individuals, have filed an application to argue their case before the Supreme Court of Canada, their lawyer Allison Pejovic said in a news release Tuesday.

“We hope that the Supreme Court of Canada agrees that constitutional issues surrounding closing churches and curbing outdoor protests during a pandemic are worth the court’s attention and adjudication,” said Pejovic, a lawyer with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.

Last June, the Manitoba Court of Appeal upheld a lower-court ruling affirming the constitutionality of COVID-19 public health orders that previously restricted gatherings and limited the number of people permitted to attend in-person church services.

The group had argued three grounds for appeal, including claims the ruling was unconstitutional, violated charter rights, and did not comply with the Public Health Act — all of which were rejected by the appeal court.

The contested October 2021 ruling by King’s Bench Chief Justice Glenn Joyal came 10 months after a court challenge launched by Gateway Bible Baptist Church, Pembina Valley Baptist Church, Redeeming Grace Bible Church, Grace Covenant Church, Slavic Baptist Church, Bible Baptist Church, Christian Church of Morden and pastors Thomas Rempel, Tobias Tissen and Ross MacKay.

Redeeming Grace Bible Church and Christian Church of Morden are not included in the Supreme Court application.

Joyal found that while the rules did restrict the freedoms of religious expression and peaceful assembly, they didn’t infringe upon charter rights to liberty and equality, and were justified as a pandemic response based on credible science.

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Dean Pritchard

Dean Pritchard
Courts reporter

Someone once said a journalist is just a reporter in a good suit. Dean Pritchard doesn’t own a good suit. But he knows a good lawsuit.

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