Representatives from three Ontario churches that are challenging provincial health restrictions on in-person Masses will have to appear in court this fall.
The constitutional challenges of the Trinity Bible Chapel in Woolwich Township, the Church of God in Aylmer and the Wellandport United Reformed Church in Welland will be heard together for three days in a courtroom in St. Thomas. from September 27. This was confirmed by a Kitchener judge on Monday.
The three churches claim that provincial legislation limiting the size of religious gatherings violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“Although our clients would have preferred to have their own day in court for their constitutional challenge, there are now several of these cases in the province and it makes sense that they will be heard at the same time,” said Lisa Bildy, a lawyer for the Justice Center for Constitutional Freedoms, in an email Tuesday.
Me Bildy is sorry that the date is so far away. “It is a long time to wait for the government to prove that its unprecedented and seemingly endless police restrictions on the normal activities of Ontarians are justified. “
The court ruling means the government can file only one set of affidavits in court and any witness in the province will only be cross-examined once.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of the Attorney General’s office said in an email: “As these challenges are before the courts, it would be inappropriate to make any further comments. “
Limit on the number of people in the wards
Under the current provincial ordinance, which went into effect last month, churches cannot have more than 10 people serving, either indoors or outdoors.
The doors of the Trinity Bible Chapel, north of Waterloo, have been locked by the courts. The church continued to hold in-person services despite the imposition of sanitary rules.
On May 1, the ministry requested a contempt of court order because the church held masses in person on April 25 and in contravention of the Ontario Reopening Act.
The judge John krawchenko ruled on May 6 that its doors would remain closed until a sanction hearing is held or the province allows churches to hold gatherings at 30% capacity.
A march to challenge the closure of the church took place on Sunday. A group of about 100 people walked from Waterloo to Kitchener.
The Church of God in Aylmer held in-person masses last Sunday. Police say more charges are likely to be laid.
The Aylmer Deputy Chief of Police, Nick novacich, said at least 120 vehicles were parked outside the church.