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A charge against a woman accused of disrupting Kelowna’s informal Remembrance Day ceremony in 2021 has been stayed.
Linda Jackson, 58, was facing a criminal charge of disturbing certain meetings, contrary to Section 176(2) of the Criminal Code, which was laid against her in April 2022.
“The decision to stay the charges was made after Crown Counsel with conduct of the matter concluded that the charge assessment standard could not be met,” said Dan McLaughlin from the BC Prosecution Service (BCPS) in a written statement to KelownaNow.
The charge stemmed from an incident at the Kelowna Cenotaph in City Park on Nov. 11, 2021, when demonstrators allegedly interrupted the unofficial ceremony with rhetoric opposing COVID-19 vaccines and mandates.
The message was met with discontent from the crowd, with multiple people yelling that it was not the time or place while others scrambled to try and unplug the demonstrators’ microphone.
KelownaNow was at the Cenotaph that day and caught the incident on video.
**Correction: They brought their own microphone.**— KelownaNow (@KelownaNow) November 11, 2021
Insp. Adam MacIntosh announced the charge against Jackson during a press conference at the Kelowna RCMP detachment in April 2022.
At the time, he said the charge laid against Jackson is extremely rare as it relates to the obstruction or violence of an officiated clergyman.
“We support a person’s right to protest, but it is not absolute," said MacIntosh. "I want to thank the hard work of our investigators to bring these cases before the BCPS and the courts."
Jackson’s first court appearance was scheduled for May 2022, but delays meant that she didn’t enter her not guilty plea until a year later in April 2023.
Her trial, which will no longer happen after the charge was stayed on Tuesday, was meant to begin next week.
McLaughlin explained that the BCPS applies a two-part test to determine whether charges will be approved and that test continues to apply throughout the prosecution.
The two factors are whether there is a substantial likelihood of conviction and, if so, whether the public interest requires a prosecution.
“If, at any time, prosecutors conclude the standard is no longer met, a stay of proceedings is the appropriate course of action,” he said.
“In this case the Crown Counsel with conduct of the file concluded that the standard was no longer met and directed a stay of proceedings by letter to the court on Nov. 28.”
What changed between April 2022 and this week to result in the charge against Jackson being stayed has not been made public.