An Aylmer, Ont., pastor at the centre of multiple controversies related to COVID-19 public health measures has been convicted and fined $5,000 as a result of a charge issued after attending an anti-lockdown rally in London’s Victoria Park in January 2022.
Henry Hildebrandt, a pastor at the Church of God in Aylmer, has spent considerable time in the limelight due to his outspoken disdain for public health measures put in place at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly those that put restrictions on in-person religious gatherings.
On Jan. 22, 2022, Hildebrandt participated in a gathering at the ‘World Wide Rally for Freedom’ in downtown London, the City of London said in a statement.
This particular rally was part of a series of anti-lockdown and anti-vaccine-mandate demonstrations across the country in support of last winter’s truck convoy protests in Ottawa and elsewhere.
On top of the $5,000 fine, Hildebrandt will also have to pay related court costs.
Hildebrandt, the Chutch of God, and other individuals associated with Hildebrandt were charged a number of times in relation to a number of separate gatherings over the course of the pandemic.
One of these gatherings was an indoor church service held by Hildebrandt on April 25, 2021, which more than 100 people attended. Three people faced criminal charges, and six people faced provincial offence tickets as a result of this gathering.
Kristen Nagle, an outspoken anti-restriction advocate and former pediatric intensive care nurse was fined $10,000 for attending that indoor service.
On May 16, 2021, a 400-person outdoor church service was held two days after a judge ordered the doors of the church locked to prevent indoor gatherings in contravention of Ontario’s pandemic law. In that case, Hildebrandt was fined $10,000, and the church was fined $35,000.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, municipal law enforcement officers were given additional duties to enforce provincial legislation based on advice from public health experts,” said Orest Katolyk, chief municipal law enforcement officer for the City of London.
“Noncompliance at gatherings came with possible penalties. In the vast majority of public interactions, officers used discretion, provided education and issued warnings. In other situations, charges were issued,” he said.
CBC London has reached out to Hildebrandt for comment and is awaiting a response.