A number of Albertans who face charges related to violating pandemic restrictions are seeing their charges dropped, following a court decision that ruled Alberta’s health orders were in breach of the Public Health Act. 

Three weeks ago, a provincial court decided that the charges laid weren’t valid under the Public Health Act because it was ultimately politicians who made the final decision on what Alberta’s lockdown restrictions would be and not the Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH).

“There is no longer a reasonable likelihood of conviction in relation to Public Health Act charges involving the contravention of the disputed orders from the Chief Medical Officer of Health,” wrote the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service (ACPS) in a statement on Wednesday.

However, there are still 14 prosecutions that remain before the court, according to the ACPS, including Christopher Scott, a cafe owner, rodeo organizer Ty Northcott and pastor James Coates.

Prosecutor Karen Thorsrud said that she won’t be calling any further evidence against pastor Coates or his church, Gracelife, saying in an email to CBC that she will “invite the court to acquit both defendants of all charges.” 

In February 2021, pastor James Coates was charged after he held church services which violated the government-imposed restrictions in place at the time like social distancing and masking. 

Christopher Scott still faces charges for keeping his restaurant, the Whistle Stop Cafe, open during a ban on in-person dining that was implemented in January 2021.

Similarly to Thorsrud, Peter Mackenzie, a Calgary Chief Crown prosecutor said he will ask for the court to issue an acquittal for Scott. 

Ty Northcott organized a “no more lockdowns rodeo rally” in May of 2021 that saw hundreds come out to attend the event which was held south of Red Deer. He and his company, Northcott Rodeo, were found guilty however sentencing has not yet taken place. 

Mackenzie is also prosecutor in Northcott’s case and confirmed that he has told Northcott’s defence lawyer that he will invite the judge to enter a judicial stay. 

The charges being dropped are linked to a lawsuit filed in December of 2020 by Rebecca Ingram, a gym owner and two churches who were forced to close during the pandemic. The plaintiffs argued that the province’s Covid-19 restrictions unlawfully breached Alberta’s Bill of Rights as well the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. 

Court of King’s Bench Justice Barbara Romaine issued a 90-page Ingram decision on July 31 that ruled in their favour, stating that politicians had breached Alberta’s Public Health Act when they made the final decisions over the CMOH regarding the province’s pandemic restrictions. 

Romaine stated that while recommendations were made by Dr. Deena Hinshaw (CMOH at the time), it was the cabinet that had the ultimate authority in decision making. 

She noted that the province’s Public Health Act doesn’t allow for the CMOH to hand over decision-making powers to politicians and even if that was the case, the constitutional rights of Albertans would have still been violated.