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Ontario government still seeking punitive enforcement orders against churches

Ontario government still seeking punitive enforcement orders against churches

despite province surpassing reopening goals

CHATHAM, ONTARIO  ~~~~~~~   June 27, 2021  (LSN)  The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms was in virtual court today in Chatham, Ontario, on behalf of the Old Colony Mennonite Church and several of its members, as the Ford government obtained a court order to force the church to comply with restrictions and regulations on their worship services—or face potential contempt fines and other sanctions.

This small group of country churches, dotted across southwestern Ontario, is attended by Mennonites who speak Low German and who shun the use of the internet and other such technology. They have been targeted for enforcement by police for holding Sunday services with greater than 10 people, the limit allowed in Ontario between early April and mid-June this year. The current limit has been raised to 15% of room capacity as of June 11, calculated by a complicated formula that is not intuitive and is only accessible on the internet, if one knows where to look.

When the limit was only 10 people, it was impossible to hold the weekly church services which are of fundamental importance to the Mennonite community and their way of life. They raise and educate their children within the church community, and make decisions together as one would in a family. Putting their communal worship on hold for months at a time, or moving to online services, are simply not reasonable options, the Justice Centre told the Court.

Despite meeting regularly throughout the pandemic, public health authorities did not contact the Church about a single case of Covid-19 traced to their religious services. There was not one shred of evidence offered by the government today in court that would support the necessity of these ongoing restrictions, let alone increased enforcement measures against this Church. The only affidavits filed by the Crown were from police officers who charged members of the churches for past breaches of the gathering limits.

In fact, the Chatham Daily News reported today that there are only four Covid-19 cases in the entire county of Chatham-Kent—an eight-month low.

The Crown lawyers noted that they have a right under the Reopening Ontario Act to obtain an order, even without notice, requiring the Church’s compliance with the restrictions. In response, the Justice Centre argued that there is discretion in the Court to refuse to make such an order where there are exceptional circumstances, including the willingness of the Church to comply with the legislation. The church members have said that they will abide by the 15% limit, which is moving to 25% next week. Unfortunately, the Court declined to exercise that discretion.

These are quiet, peaceful people who are not seeking to become a lightning rod for controversy, but simply to worship together as they have always done. The imposition of this enforcement order may result in hardship for the Old Colony Mennonites, as scrutiny intensifies and they risk contempt of court proceedings for any transgressions, which could result in massive fines. The order will be in effect until all restrictions are lifted, which is currently unknown. The Ontario Government has recently extended its ability to make orders under the Reopening Ontario Act until December 2021.

“Protracted emergencies are always dangerous for societies, as the public willingly gives governments unprecedented powers which they are often loath to relinquish,” states Justice Centre Staff Lawyer Lisa Bildy.

The Church will now consider whether to bring a motion to challenge the enforcement order against them on constitutional grounds, as other church clients of the Justice Centre have done. The Aylmer Church of God and Trinity Bible Chapel will have their hearings at the same time, beginning on October 4, 2021.

“In the meantime, churches continue to be targeted by Canadian governments despite there being no evidence that they are a source of significant outbreaks,” continues Ms. Bildy. “The Old Colony Mennonites are people who live their lives in the real world. They work in hands-on jobs and interact in person with other human beings. They don’t have the privilege, or curse, of living and working amongst the fancy Zoom class for whom the lockdowns have been an extended break from their otherwise hectic lives.”

The treatment of churches in Canada is attracting attention outside our borders. Today, Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, an American constitutional lawyer, expressed concern about Canadian authorities’ treatment of religious leaders during the pandemic, and urged the Commission on International Religious Freedom to consider adding Canada to the Commission’s Watch List.

#LSN_Health  #LSN_PublicSafety 



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Robert McKenzie

Vox Popular Live at Waverley Park

THUNDER B AY, ONTARIO   ~~~~~~~~  September 15, 2021  (LSNews)  The 17th Annual Vox Popular Media Arts Festival is both online and in person this year from September 16th-26th!  Our in-person event will be...

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Beacons of Hope exhibition opening at Concordia University-St. Paul

Solo exhibition by Anne Labovitz

Robert McKenzie 0 286 Article rating: No rating

NORTHERN, MINNESOTA  ~~~~~~  September 16, 2021  (LSNews)  I am pleased to announce the opening of my latest exhibition, Beacons of Hope curated by Dr. Megan Arney Johnston at Concordia University-St. Paul.  The site-specific works center on the conceptual and gestural elements of hope.

Beacons of Hope opens Thursday, September 16th from 5-7pm with an artist talk at 5:30.  Please join me.  If you're unable to attend, the artist talk will be recorded and shared at a later date, and the works will be on view through October 13th.

#LSN_Art  #LSN_MNNews 

Vox Popular Live at Waverley Park

17th Annual Vox Popular Media Arts Festival online and in person this year

Robert McKenzie 0 358 Article rating: No rating

THUNDER B AY, ONTARIO   ~~~~~~~~  September 15, 2021  (LSNews)  The 17th Annual Vox Popular Media Arts Festival is both online and in person this year from September 16th-26th! 

Our in-person event will be held from 7-11PM, September 16th at Waverley Park. It will feature live music, film screenings, and a projection of our virtual art gallery! Performers include: Rodney Brown, Danielle Polari, and Jean-Paul De Roover. Films include local and Canadian shorts, as well as local director Ryan La Via’s 43min film Cup Confidential.  

#LSN_Arts  #LSN_TBay 

Lake Superior water levels have declined and have reached the seasonal long-term average

for the first time since April 2014

Robert McKenzie 0 752 Article rating: 4.0

THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO  ~~~~~~~  September 13, 2021 (LSNews)   As a result of the drier than average weather and water supply conditions, Lake Superior water levels have declined and have reached the seasonal long-term average for the first time since April 2014. Conditions have been wetter in the Lake Michigan-Huron basin and water levels are midway between the seasonal long-term average and the record high water levels that were observed last year. Lake Superior outflows continue to be set in consideration of water levels upstream and downstream.

#LSN_Shipping #LSN_MNNews #LSN_WiscNews #LSN_CircleTour 

Horne Fire Update

Robert McKenzie 0 2495 Article rating: No rating

ISLE ROYALE, MICHIGAN  ~~~~~~~  August 28, 2021 (LSNews)  The Horne Fire is currently 245 acres in size and still 15% contained. Isle Royale received 0.75 inches of rain yesterday. Firefighters are currently working to control and contain the fire. Check out the most recent maps of the Horne Fire

#LSN_Fire #LSN_Outdoors  #LSN_MiNews  #LSN_CookCounty 

Magnus Announces Lineup for 50th Anniversary Season

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THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO  ~~~~~~~~  August 26, 2021 (LSNews)   Magnus Theatre is excited to announce a return to the stage, with a full season of Mainstage programming running from September 16, 2021 until May 14, 2022.

The theatre will be celebrating its 50th anniversary during the upcoming season

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Isle Royale National Park

Robert McKenzie 0 3779 Article rating: 4.7

ISLE ROYAL, MICHIGAN ~~~~~~~  August 22, 2021,(LSNews)   Isle Royale National Park is experiencing a wildfire on the island’s east end- the Horne Fire. It is approximately 200 acres in size at this time. Due to the progress of the Horne Fire, ongoing drought conditions, and elevated levels of fire danger, area closures are necessary to maintain public health and safety. Closed areas will be signed where possible and monitored to ensure compliance.

#LSN_MicNews #LSN_Cookcounty  #LSN_Fire

Iola Car Show prepares for Rally for Iola - Sept. 18th

Robert McKenzie 0 3006 Article rating: No rating

NORTHERN, WISCONSIN ~~~~~~  August 16 , 2021  (LSNews) When the Iola Car Show was cancelled in 2020, the staff held a car cruise to celebrate all things cars. This cruise brought in over 1,000 cars that travelled through surrounding communities. This showcase was a treat for Waupaca County - most volunteers are local and without the Iola Car Show, they could really enjoy the car cruise. It was such a "feel-good" event that it will happen again, this time on September 18th, as a last hoorah before the car show seasons takes a break. All show cars are welcome - there is no cutoff year!

#LSN_Outdoos WiscNews 


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