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Whistle Stop owner is not anti-mask or a COVID-19 denier, lawyer argues on day 1 of trial


The owner of a small town Alberta café that became a centrepiece for defiance against COVID-19 public health measures appeared in a Red Deer courtroom Tuesday.

Christopher Scott of the Whistle Stop Café is facing a total of 11 charges, nine of which are related to the Public Health Act.

Crown prosecutors allege that from January to April 2021 Scott repeatedly ignored public health and closure orders by allowing people to dine in and hold public gatherings at his café in Mirror, Alta.

"I think today went as good as could be expected," said Chad Williamson, one of Scott's lawyers.

Williamson claims Scott does not deny the existence of COVID-19 nor is he against masking. Instead, the café owner argues Alberta had no right to restrict his business with pandemic health measures.

"The government infringed on Chris's rights and on the rights of Albertans and we hope the court sees it that way as well," he said as Scott stood beside him.

Scott's stance in refusing to close his restaurant to in-person diners made national headlines in early 2021 and attracted swarms of supporters to his door, which at one point was chained and locked by authorities.

Scott was arrested on May 8 during a rally near his café. That gathering was deemed to be in violation of a May 6 injunction order applied for and obtained by Alberta Health Services under the Public Health Act against Scott and the café ahead of the rally two days later.

On Tuesday the prosecution called three witnesses, two RCMP officers and health inspector Ian Plischke, to corroborate alleged infractions at the Whistle Stop.

During cross examination, Scott's defence became aware of internal emails that Plischke may have regarding Scott and his café.

"We want to see those emails and what their contents are," Williamson said.

The judge ordered Plischke to bring any emails or correspondence in front of the court Wednesday in order to finish the cross-examination.

The trial is expected to wrap up on Wednesday.

With files from CTV News Red Deer's Nav Sangha Top Stories

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