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Pat King worries about catching COVID-19 in an overcrowded jail

Pat King, shown during a recent blogger interview

Alberta resident, Pat King, who has been fighting against COVID restrictions, has a new concern.

Speaking on behalf of his client at last week's unsuccessful bail application, King's lawyer Cal Rosemond revealed worries the self-declared "investigative journalist" and convoy organizer might catch COVID-19 during what could well be an extended stay behind bars.

Denied bail on Friday, King must now await trial in a jail cell on charges of mischief, counselling to commit mischief, counselling to disobey a court order and counselling to obstruct police, all in relation to the Ottawa protests.

Barring a successful appeal of the bail decision, King is expected to be incarcerated for months.

Rosemond, the Toronto-based human rights advocate who also represents well-known anti-masker Chris (Sky) Saccoccia, tried last week to use King's risk of catching jailhouse COVID to argue for his release awaiting trial.

If King contracted the virus, he might spend more time incarcerated than he'd be likely to get on the four mischief-related charges, Rosemond argued.

That, he said, would bring the administration of justice into disrepute.

Andrew Seymour, the presiding justice of the peace at King's bail hearing, didn't buy Rosemond's argument and perceived a bit of situational irony.

"It is somewhat ironic that an individual whose raison d'etre is to protest vehemently against public health measures designed to reduce the spread of COVID, would now suggest that the delay or the potential for being infected at a detention centre could impact the court's decision [on bail]," said Seymour.

"I put little weight on the submission," the justice added.

"Counsel for Mr. King further argued that detention [for purposes of maintaining confidence in the administration of justice] should not be considered given the potential for Mr. King to serve a lengthier sentence awaiting trial than he would receive should he be found guilty."

Instead, Justice Seymour ruled the opposite, that releasing King would itself cause the court to be disrespected.

"A reasonable person, properly informed, will lose confidence in the administration of justice should Mr. King be released," Seymour ruled. 

Is King Indigenous?

In another ruling of local interest made during last week's bail hearing, Justice Seymour declined to consider any unique systemic or background factors that may have played a part in bringing King before the courts, even though Rosemond indicated he had some knowledge of King's supposed Indigenous heritage.

King has variously referred to being Métis, to having roots in Garden River First Nation, and to having family in Thessalon First Nation, which he curiously described as being part of the Garden River treaty reserve.

Garden River Chief Andy Rickard tells SooToday King "has no ties to Garden River," while local Métis tell us King does not qualify for membership in Métis Nation of Ontario.

"We do not condone nor do we support what has happened," Chief Rickard said.

"In fact we rerouted the convoy from coming through our community to the outside perimeter."

"We also refused to accommodate the convoy from parking in and around any of our facilities or parking lots."

"I had our police redirect. It all worked out at the time," Rickard said.

Thessalon First Nation did not respond to a SooToday request for information about King's status there, but King has talked about difficulties posed by the absence of his father being named on his birth documents.

"There was no evidence or submissions, on the exact nature of Mr. King's Indigenous background," Seymour said.

The only evidence suggesting King is Indigenous, the justice said, was a video filed as part of the Crown's submissions to the court, in which King appears to make the following extraordinary claim: "Every person who was born here in Canada, in North America, you are Indigenous. People don't realize that. If you were born of the land, you are Indigenous of the land."

King got into trouble at another stop during the trip to Ottawa, when he described receiving a sacred ceremonial pipe from elders.

He later posted a video saying the pipe is no longer in his possession because protocol was not followed during the presentation.

He said the pipe has been smudged, cleansed and sent to a clan grandmother in Cold Lake, Alberta, who will hold it until King has abstained from alcohol for one year, which he said is a requirement for pipe carriers.

King is due back in court on Mar. 18.

David Helwig

About the Author: David Helwig

David Helwig's journalism career spans seven decades beginning in the 1960s. His work has been recognized with national and international awards.
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