(John Matychuk photo)

(John Matychuk photo)

Langley MPs stand for ‘religious freedom’ and Ontario drive-through church services

18 Canadian MPs sign letter to Premier Doug Ford appealing to prevent charges, fines for congregants

Aldergrove-Langley MP Tako van Popta is one of eighteen MPs that have taken a stance “for religious freedom” in light of Ontario churchgoers being threatened with charges after participating in drive-through services amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wednesday, April 29, saw van Popta collaborate with Cloverdale-Langley City MP Tamara Jansen, Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge MP Marc Dalton, and other riding representatives to sign a letter sent to Ontario’s Premier Doug Ford.

The letter implores Ford to act so that communities in Ontario “will not be prosecuted for practising their faith.”

This comes in response to reports that Ontario police have threatened to charge churchgoers who gather, in separate cars, to listen to services broadcast over the radio.

In Aylmer, Ont. more than 50 vehicles parked in the Church of God’s parking lot for a service on Sunday, April 26.

The previous Sunday, April 19, the detachment said it received 15 reports of “a certain congregation” gathered in a parking lot for a service.

The congregant’s actions were “no more violating social distancing rules than anyone in a grocery store parking lot in Ontario,” the MPs urge.

In fact, the drive-in church service was “respectful of social distancing” it asserts.

READ MORE: Wage subsidy program to help fund faith as congregations face COVID-19 crunch

Aylmer Police Services later released in a statement that it “respects everyone’s rights to peaceful assembly for freedom of expression, and religion.” 

Additionally, the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA), enacted by the province on March 17, outlines restrictions upon gatherings of more than five people “for the purpose of conducting religious services.”

Aylmer police went on to say Elgin County prosecutors determined the gathering “a violation of the EMPCA” and that those attending “should be facing charges for failing to comply with an order during a declared emergency.”

Such police actions were an “over-reach” and not justifiable by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the MPs’ letter counters.

Rather, they were “acts of intimidation against communities of faith,” it says.

READ MORE: Churches shut down or limit services in Langley

The MPs pointed to other Canadian provinces permitting specific religious services amid the pandemic.

In New Brunswick, at an April 24 news briefing, Premier Blaine Higgs announced allowances for churches who drive-in to worship – so long as proper COVID-19 precautions are taken.

Aylmer Church of God’s website issued a statement Saturday (April 24): “This has been a moment of truth for Christians across Ontario and the country.”

“Our parking lot will be open to anyone that wishes to park there, stay in their vehicle at all times with their windows rolled up and tuned in.”

Our Charter freedoms must be protected, said van Popta about drive-in services.

Neither the MPs, nor the Aylmer police, said which Ontario church services their public statements referred to.

18 MPs sign a letter in support of ‘religious freedom’ in Ontario:

Alymer Police Services response regarding drive-through services:

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Langley Advance Times publisher Lisa Farquharson and Real Canadian Superstore Langley manager Jason Pietzarka presented Kristi Kocherkewych with her $200 prize in the third annual Win Everything You Didn’t Get for Christmas Contest. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)
Walnut Grove woman spreads cheer as winner of Langley Advance Times and Superstore contest

The third annual Win Everything You Didn’t Get for Christmas Contest received thousands of entries

Township of Langley crews were called to a structure fire in the 7200blk 208th St in Willoughby on Friday, Jan. 22, 2020 (Curtis Kreklau/South Fraser News Services)
VIDEO: Two-alarm blaze in Langley’s Willoughby neighbourhood

Crews respond to multiple reports of a structure fire in the 7200 block of 208th Street on Friday

Black Press Media Files
BC Teacher’s Federation asks for vaccine prioritization

‘Hopefully more vaccines are approved and the immunization strategy will be adjusted and accelerated’

Theatre in the Country presents Lady Windermere’s Fan by Oscar Wilde. (TIC/Special to the Aldergrove Star)
Oscar Wilde, Kauffman and Hart, and adult acting classes all happening at Langley theatre

Theatre in the Country continues to showcase Zoom performances while now offering scene studies

Curator Kobi Christian with an exhibit on historic clothing that was on display at the Langley Centennial Museum last February. (Langley Advance Times files)
Langley museum gets $75,000 grant

The funding is to go towards improving facilities

Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 is International Lego Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 24 to 30

Lego Day, Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day and Puzzle Day are all coming up this week

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death in North Saanich likely B.C.’s first in for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

The District of Saanich’s communications team decided to take part in a viral trend on Thursday and photoshopped U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders into a staff meeting photo. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Bernie Sanders makes guest appearance municipal staff meeting in B.C.

Vancouver Island firefighters jump on viral trend of photoshopped U.S. senator

School District 57 headquarters in Prince George. (Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Prince George school district settles with sexual abuse victim

Terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit

Surrey provincial court. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
New COVID-19 protocols set for provincial courthouses

The new rules were issued on Jan. 21, and took effect immediately

Police in Vancouver looking for male suspect who allegedly spat and attacked a store manager for not wearing a mask, at 7-Eleven near Alma Street and West 10th Avenue just before noon on Dec. 17, 2020. (Vancouver police handout)
VIDEO: Man spits on 7-Eleven manager over mask rule, sparking Vancouver police probe

‘Unfortunately, the store manager sustained a cut to his head during the assault’

Most Read