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Alberta pastor to be released, faces $1,500 fine

Last Updated Mar 22, 2021 at 11:09 am MDT

A photo of James Coates and his family. The Edmonton-area pastor has reportedly had all but one of his charges dropped on Mar. 17, 2021. (CREDIT: Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms)

EDMONTON – An Alberta pastor who was jailed for violating COVID-19 restrictions will be released.

A judge has allowed James Coates from GraceLife church to go free after spending 35 days in jail. Coates will be forced to pay a fine of $1,500.

Coates agreed to plead guilty to the charge of disobeying a court order after he was told to stop holding large church gatherings after first receiving a penalty from Alberta Health Services (AHS).

However, two other counts relating to the public health order have been dropped.

The judge did not agree to a smaller fine of $100 and said he wanted to make a statement about people who continue to disobey public health orders.

WATCH: Alberta pastor jailed for breaking health protocols will remain behind bars for at least another night


Coates was in prison after refusing to abide by a bail condition that he not lead services at the church.

A trial on the charge of breaching the Alberta Public Health Act is set for May.