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Pedersen’s Public Health Act tickets adjourned yet again

Freedom rally organizer faces 10 PHA tickets that add up to $12,000 in fines; next court date is Oct. 13
WES - B. Pedersen tickets
Benita Pedersen, who organized a series of “freedom rallies” across northern Alberta earlier this year, is slated to be back in Westlock Provincial Court Oct. 13 to deal with 10 Public Health Act tickets. Her case was adjourned for a sixth time Sept. 8.

WESTLOCK – The Westlock-based DJ facing 10 Public Health Act tickets for organizing “freedom rallies” and so-called COVID-19 information sessions across northern Alberta earlier this year has received a sixth adjournment and is now seeking proof from the province “that COVID-19 is present and constitutes a public health emergency.”

In Westlock Provincial Court Sept. 8, Judge Brian Fraser granted a request to move Pedersen’s case to Oct. 13 as negotiations between her and the Crown broke off earlier that day. Pedersen, who’s not represented by a lawyer, faces 10 PHA 73(1) tickets for contravening an order of the Medical Officer of Health, specifically in relation to mass gatherings. Each ticket carries a specified fine of $1,000, plus a 20 per cent victim fine surcharge.

“I’ll seek to have some sort of hearing set with respect to the information she’s seeking, as well as a trial date so we can start to have the matter proceeding,” said specialized prosecutions office prosecutor Craig Kallal, adding he expects a trial to last up to eight days. “The police recorded all these rallies so there’s just a huge amount of evidence.”

Kallal told the judge that Pedersen is requesting the Crown make some information available that she says is first-party disclosure, while he contends it’s third party. First-party disclosure was enshrined in the 1991 Supreme Court of Canada case, R v Stinchcombe, which found that the Crown must provide the defence with all evidence that could possibly be relevant to the case, regardless of whether they plan to call that evidence at trial or not, or whether it helps or hurts the Crown’s case. Meanwhile, third-party disclosure is a separate disclosure/production scheme for records and information in the hands of third parties — parties that are under no obligation and have no duty to assist the parties in litigation, or to disclose information to them.

“I am seeking the results of the investigation of Dr. Deena Hinshaw confirming that COVID-19 is present and constitutes a public health emergency,” said Pedersen, who attended court over the phone. “Mr. Kallal’s contention is that this is a third-party matter. However, according to Gov and Stinchcombe (the actual case is R v Stinchcombe) this is a first-party matter because Alberta Health Services is connected to the Crown. They cannot exist without the Crown. They are controlled and funded by the Crown, so this is actually a first-party matter. I am entitled to the information I seek.”

Pedersen says she’s “Fighting for all Canadians”

Pedersen has previously stated on social media she has “zero intention of paying any of these (fines)” and claims she hasn’t broken any laws.

Although her tickets are from two anti-COVID-19 measures rallies in Westlock Feb. 11 and Feb. 25 plus a series of others across the region in Athabasca, Barrhead, Bonnyville and Lac La Biche, Pedersen has continued to host “freedom rallies” and “church in the park” events throughout the summer in Edmonton — one of her latest Facebook posts shows her attending an anti-vaccination rally in Calgary.

During an April 8 webcast dubbed The Thursday Fastball With Crusty Canuck, Pedersen said then she had received eight tickets totaling $9,600 and “was going to wallpaper my room with them but they’re mismatched in colours — I’ve got yellow ones and white ones and now I have a pink one, so they’re all mismatched so I don’t think I’m going to use them as wallpaper.”

Meanwhile at Pedersen’s Lac La Biche event April 16, she proudly told the crowd she had nine tickets that added up to $10,800 in fines.

“I have a message to all the authorities right now, I am not afraid of you, I am not scared. I will take another ticket. If you want to put me in jail, go ahead. I’d rather not go to jail, but I’m in a sense prepared to if that’s what this is going to come to,” Pedersen said during the April 8 webcast. “I’m fighting for all Canadians and I want a complete restoration of the freedoms and rights of all Canadians, that’s my goal. And I’m in this for the next year, the next decade, the next two decades if that’s what it takes. And if that costs me my time, my energy, my money, my freedom, my life, so be it.”

George Blais,

George Blais

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