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Ontario churches look to take COVID-19 battle to Supreme Court of Canada

Two churches in southwestern Ontario are looking to head to Canada’s highest court in the latest chapter of their battles with the province over the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCFC), which represents the Aylmer Church of God and the Trinity Bible Chapel in Woolwich, says in a release that it has filed the paperwork with the Supreme Court of Canada in its latest appeal bid.

The case has made its way through the court system as both of the churches have faced a variety of charges, including findings of contempt, for repeatedly defying restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The JCFC says Pastor Henry Hildebrandt and the Aylmer Church of God were ordered to pay $274,000 in fines and costs for violating the pandemic rules by holding several drive-in services in 2021.

Elders at the church in Elmira were also ordered to pay thousands of dollars in fines while the doors to their building were also locked for several months after several gatherings were held inside in 2021.

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In March of 2022, the initial appeal by the church was dismissed by an Ontario judge.

Lawyers for the churches had argued that both indoor and outdoor gathering restrictions issued by the Ontario government were over-broad, unreasonable, arbitrary limits that violated Charter rights and cannot be justified in a free and democratic society.

The JCFC then took the case to the court of appeal in December 2022, where their objections to the March ruling were also dismissed.

— with files from Global News

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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