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Trail pastor defies Covid-restrictions, denies pandemic, threatens court action after non-compliance fine

Ed. Note: This is transcribed from an interview, and in no way represents the views of this publication.

After receiving a $2,300 fine for organizing /hosting a non-compliant event, a Trail pastor is threatening legal action, calling Covid-19, “a weapon for governments to gain control and shut up the churches”.

Pastor Gord Harding, of Celebrations Church in the Waneta Mall, said he believes Covid-19 is, “just a nasty virus like the flu – there is no pandemic at all.”

Police were called to the church Thursday, as troubled residents saw a gathering taking place, according to Trail RCMP NCOIC Sgt. Mike Wicentowich.

“On Jan. 21, at 7:17 p.m., Trail and Greater District RCMP received a complaint about a large gathering of people at a local place of worship in Trail,” Wicentowich said in a press release issued today (Tuesday). “RCMP officers attended and located 29 people who were not wearing masks and had gathered inside the main room of the church for a planned event.

“The crowd was cooperative and dispersed when directed by the RCMP officers. A representative was issued a $2,300 fine for Organizing or Hosting a Non-Compliant Event contrary to Section 4(1) of the Emergency Programs Act – Protective Measures (COVID-19) Order.

“We all have a key role to play during this health emergency, and there are many members of public respecting the prevention orders from the public health authorities that are not optional,” Wicentowich said. “We encourage everyone to adhere to the orders being implemented to keep everyone safe and reduce the risks. The Trail RCMP encourage the public to refrain from gathering to help prevent the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus.”

Pastor Harding, however, begs to differ, saying the government is dramatically overreaching.

“The BC government is completely out of line and out of order,” Harding said. “Under the Charter of Rights, they have no teeth whatsoever. We are going to win this hands down.

“We believe the whole thing is completely targeted at the churches,” he added. “Big box stores are still open, and pubs and pot stores, and they’re not abiding by the six-foot rule at all.”

He said he knows this first-hand in part because, right after the most recent Public Health Order, he and his wife travelled to Kelowna to celebrate their anniversary.

“It was right after the latest (PHO), maybe a month or three weeks ago,” he said. “We went into a pub for dinner, and there were probably 150 people there, and no one was wearing masks.”

As for the event itself, he said he had every right to hold it.

“We have a legal support group for people which helps those who are addicted and struggling with depression and anxiety,” he said. “The RCMP showed up and wrote us up, which we are going to fight in court.

“We haven’t been having Sunday services, this is a support group,” he said. “Just in the past month, we had a couple of people who would have killed themselves, but didn’t because they came here.”

When asked why attendees weren’t at least required to wear masks, he said, “We believe they do more harm than good. I don’t believe the masks work.”

He said they do have masks and hand sanitizer in their doorway, and would be willing to require their use, even though he disagrees with it.

There are literally more suicides than people dying of Covid,” he added. “People are desolate – they need to get together, they need that fellowship. People on the street don’t have streaming or phones, they need community. Our job is to be there for people who are broken and wounded, for our community.”

He also claimed the majority of scientists agree with his stance that there is no pandemic.

“Let’s be honest, we are being targeted,” he said. “We feel there’s an agenda there against churches as a whole. There’s a lot more going on behind the scenes than you and I even know.

“The government is manipulating the truth, and they’re saying God is a non-essential service, but pubs and pot stores are open, if you can believe it. Every business inside and outside that mall is open, but we’re not allowed to hold services. We are completely being targeted.”

He said the church is very community-minded, raising thousands for the local foodbank, doing community outreach, and while they don’t want a fight, they feel they have to take a stand.

“We don’t want to be rebellious, we don’t want to fight anyone, but we have to stand up for righteousness when people are trying to silence the Voice of God.”

Several churches in the province are in the process of challenging Provincial Health Orders through the courts.