A central Alberta man who organized a rodeo that flouted Alberta’s public health rules at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic won’t be sentenced, a judge has ruled.
Despite being found guilty last month for violating Alberta’s public health orders, the sentencing against Ty Northcott was stayed on Thursday.
During the proceedings, the Crown referred to the Ingram decision, which found that politicians – not Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health – gave final approval to some of the province’s public health orders.
The judge agreed with the stay, meaning Northcott won’t be sentenced.
Lawren Wowk, Northcott’s defence lawyer, says the Ingram decision found the public health orders were “unlawfully provided” and contrary to the Public Health Act.
“Because of that, it means individuals charged could not have been charged on an order that was unlawfully created,” Wowk told CTV News in an interview on Thursday.
“The Crown’s position depended on where stage of a particular defendant’s matters were at.”
Northcott was convicted before the Ingram decision, but that case’s outcome meant the Crown would not be able to proceed against his client, Wowk said.
Northcott was the organizer of the ‘No More Lockdowns’ rodeo in May 2021, which was set up as a way for residents to voice their concerns over the current public health measures, which forbade large public gatherings and promoted a number of other measures to prevent COVID-19 infection.
Ty Northcott (Facebook)
Former Premier Jason Kenney called the event “a slap in the face” to all Albertans who were diligently following all of the province’s public health measures.
“I’m angered and saddened to see so many people selfishly put themselves ahead of others. Rodeos celebrate Alberta’s Western heritage, a key part of which is our community spirit and looking out for others, especially the vulnerable,” he said at the time.
“That’s the opposite of what these folks are doing.”
Approximately a month later, Alberta Health Services confirmed that a positive case of COVID-19 was “directly linked” to the rodeo.
NORTHCOTT ‘WEIGHING HIS OPTIONS’
Even with the decision, Wowk said he isn’t sure that everyone should consider this as a victory.
“It doesn’t consider the last two-plus years of what this has cost Mr. Northcott. Not just him but his relationships with friends, contracts (and) his revenues.
“The stay of proceedings is a great result – he’s successful, but I don’t know if it makes him happy.”
Wowk said Northcott may consider other legal action in the future.
“Mr. Northcott wasn’t the only person his industry that was caught by these orders. He was just one of very few who decided to not cave and pay.
“He decided to fight.”
The decision comes a day after Edmonton-area pastor James Coates and GraceLife Church were acquitted of similar violations of Alberta’s Public Health Act.
(With files from Nav Sangha)
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