Hallelujah! GraceLife is closed, finally

After months of repeated, flagrant violations of public health orders, GraceLife, the church outside Edmonton that has been making a big show out of breaking the rules, has finally been shut down by Alberta Health Services. Fence went up around the premises this morning.

It’s a symbolic move at this point—there are equally-fraught super-spreader gatherings at the bars on Whyte Avenue just a half hour away, every weekend. But it’s sure to bring a smile to those who have been doggedly maintaining responsible behavior, or who have had to watch their loved ones struggle with COVID, while Pastor James Coates and his flock of ‘freedom-loving Albertans’ made a mockery of everyone else’s efforts.

Far-right ‘street preacher’ and general nuisance Artur Pawlowski looks to be angling for the high-profile role as Alberta’s next rebellious priest, and threw AHS inspectors out of his own premises over Easter weekend. The clip is already getting big clicks on Fox and The Rebel. On Monday night, Pawlowski and prominent antimaskers including Chris Saccoccia and the vicious anti-Muslim bigot Kevin Johnston (running for mayor of Calgary soon, and most recently in the news for assaulting a shop clerk over a bar of soap) held a big, screw-the-rules party at Scarpetta Italian Eatery in Calgary, a venue with its own long list of reckless violations. Pawlowski claims that Calgary Police told him they could get away with it.

COVID cases are surging again in the province again and a new ‘super-variant,’ called P1, has made it here. Over the weekend, AHS reported that two workplaces were being investigated, but wouldn’t tell us the details. On Monday we learned that PTW Energy Services, a company operating in a few locations across the province, was one of them. All signs point to an employee having picked it up in BC, where P1 is spreading rapidly. One of the P1 cases was found in Edson; the Edson mayor is furious that AHS didn’t notify him and that he had to find out by watching the news.

A third wave is now undeniably crashing on the province and in response, Kenney announced yesterday that the province would be returning to its Step 1 restrictions. In-person dining in restaurants is off the menu again (but patios are still okay) and some services at gyms will be restricted. I’m seeing some chatter on Instagram from the fitness-influencer bros that gyms across the province intend to resist and publicly disobey the measures. Whether they, and Pawlowski too, will be allowed to flip the rest of us the bird for months before AHS does anything, remains to be seen.


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