(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:


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

Just Posted

UPDATE: Teen missing since early Monday in Langley has been found

Police released information about a 14-year-old girl who has been found safe

Canada West Golf Championships cancelled due to COVID-19 travel restrictions

UBC, UBC-O, UFV and UVic athletes will not hit the links this year, Kelowna was set to host

What will happen in Langley’s school district when student or staffer tests positive?

The school superintendent lays out protocols based on health expert recommendations

Most Langley students back in class

District update released after the first full week of instruction

SHARE: Feathered friend a reliable weather forecaster

Send us your photo showing how you view Langley, and it could be featured in a future edition

B.C. reports 96 new COVID-19 cases, one hospital outbreak

61 people in hospital as summer ends with election

‘Unprecedented’ coalition demands end to B.C. salmon farms

First Nations, commercial fishermen among group calling for action on Cohen recommendations

Earthquake off coast of Washington recorded at 4.1 magnitude

The quake was recorded at a depth of 10 kilometres

B.C.’s top doctor says she’s received abuse, death threats during COVID-19 response

Henry has become a national figure during her time leading B.C.’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

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

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

BC Liberals must change gears from election cynicism, focus on the issues: UBC professors

COVID-19 response and recovery is likely to dominate platforms

B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day: officials

More than 20K mail-in voting packages were requested within a day of B.C. election being called

Dozens of Canadian venues to light up red in support of entertainment workers

Local facilities among dozens across Canada to participate in Light Up Live

Most Read