(Advocate file photo)

Charges dropped against central Alberta anti-lockdown rodeo organizer

“No More Lockdowns” rodeo held near Bowden in May 2021 despite health restrictions

Charges of breaching pandemic health restrictions have been dropped against one of the organizers of an anti-lockdown rodeo held near Bowden in May 2021.

Ty and Gail Northcott and their company Northcott Rodeo Inc. were named in a summons on May 10, 2021 for violating Section 73(1) of the Public Health Act for holding their “No More Lockdowns” rodeo on private land near Bowden on May 1-2 in contravention of health restrictions in place at the time prohibiting large public gatherings.

In Red Deer provincial court on Thursday, Crown prosecutor Peter Mackenzie dropped the charge against Gail Northcott and asked to adjourn the case because new disclosure information had come to light.

A two-day trial had been scheduled to start Thursday. It will now take place on Dec. 20.

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Mackenzie told Judge Michael Scrase that while interviewing a health inspector on Oct. 4 it was revealed that there was more information available that could be relevant to the case.

About 50 encrypted documents containing about 250 pages of internal Alberta Health Services communications were delivered to Mackenzie in “prompt fashion” last Friday. However, it took some time to decrypt the information and it could not be provided to the defence until Wednesday afternoon.

“This was not intended and we are trying to move this matter along. It was unanticipated and it has created a problem,” Mackenzie told the judge.

Defence lawyer Stephen Whitehead, of Calgary, said he has not had time to review the new information with his client yet and agreed the trial should be adjourned.

“It is obviously an unfortunate situation,” said Scrase. “I understand the position the defence counsel is in.”

Mackenzie told the judge that an agreed statement of facts had been prepared and only a one-day trial would be necessary.

The Northcotts pleaded not guilty and were to go to trial last December. However, that was adjourned because Whitehead, who had only recently been retained, was unavailable.

Alberta Health Services (AHS) later said one COVID-19 case had been connected to the May event, which the Northcotts said on Facebook had attracted more than 3,000 people.

The Northcotts had planned a second event called the “No More Jason Kenney Pro Rodeo Rally” that was set for June 5-6. That event was postponed after a judge granted Alberta Health Services an injunction prohibiting the gathering.



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