Pastor Artur Pawlowski attracted international attention earlier this year when he was arrested for hosting an “illegal” church service in Calgary, Canada. Now, the government is forcing him to echo the official government line on COVID-19 during his services as part of his probation.
According to Fox News, the pastor — who was given 18 months probation and told to pay tens of thousands in penalties as part of the ruling handed down on civil contempt charges Friday — must speak exactly what “the majority of medical experts in Alberta” have to say about COVID protocol as part of his probation.
Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Adam Germain said in the written ruling that Pawlowski — who was jailed for holding church services — was “oozing hubris” and accused him and his brother of wanting to be “martyrs” by garnering additional jail time.
“On balance, I suspect that many reasonable individuals will view the sanctions that I impose to be more beneficial in repairing the harm Pastor Pawlowski and his brother did to society than a short period of jail that will perhaps martyr them in the eyes of their followers,” Germain wrote in his decision.
“I therefore intend to handle this without additional jail time, but instead impose a very large fine, community service work, plus a requirement that whenever they are opposing the [Alberta Health Services] Health Orders in any public forum, (including social media forums), they must also place the other side of the argument on the record.”
The judge said if he is speaking publicly — including in church — “he must indicate in his communications the following:
“I am also aware that the views I am expressing to you on this occasion may not be views held by the majority of medical experts in Alberta. While I may disagree with them, I am obliged to inform you that the majority of medical experts favour social distancing, mask wearing, and avoiding large crowds to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Most medical experts also support participation in a vaccination program unless for a valid religious or medical reason you cannot be vaccinated. Vaccinations have been shown statistically to save lives and to reduce the severity of COVID-19 symptoms.”
Pawlowski was given an insight into the ruling earlier in the week when he received his verbal sentencing in court on Wednesday. He was able to give a passionate reaction to the news upon leaving the courtroom.
Fascism and communism is here! https://t.co/UPYqqnMF4j
— Artur Pawlowski (@ArturPawlowski1) October 13, 2021
On Friday, Pawlowski reacted to the ruling, deeming it “unconstitutional,” “illegal” and an example of “compelled speech like in China and North Korea,” according to Fox.
“This crooked judge wants to turn me into a CBC reporter or CNN reporter, that every time that I am in public, every time I’m opening my mouth, I am to pray their mantra to the government,” he said.
“They’re telling me what I can and cannot preach,” Pawlowski said. “They’re telling me that every time I want to address the public, I have to spew their lie first in order for me to deliver my message. That’s China. That’s North Korea.”
Artur and Dawid Pawlowski were initially arrested in May, according to the CBC, after the preachers held a church service without requiring anyone attending to wear masks. Alberta Health Services obtained an injunction they served the Pawlowskis, demanding they ensure attendees were abiding by AHS orders.
BREAKING: Less than an hour after Pastor Artur Pawlowski hosted this “illegal” church service in Calgary, he was swarmed by police and arrested. Details to come. We’re crowdfunding his legal defence at https://t.co/bMwAj1iNfP pic.twitter.com/nAgw0CU5dX
— Ezra Levant 🍁 (@ezralevant) May 8, 2021
Calgary police said the brothers “acknowledged the injunction, but chose to ignore requirements for social distancing, mask wearing and reduced capacity limits for attendees.”
A month earlier, armed police entered the church during Easter weekend, leading the pastor to chase them out and compare them to Nazis and the Gestapo:
Pawlowski’s lawyer, Sarah Miller, said that the judge’s condition that Pawlowski read the views of the “majority of medical experts in Alberta” is “bizarre” and “likely unconstitutional,” given Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees freedom of expression, Fox reported.
“This is totally and wholly new as far as sentencing goes, as far as I can see or as far as I am familiar with,” Miller said. “I’ve never heard of any kind of probationary period which includes conditions that compelled certain speech. It seems highly unusual and rare.”
There was a sad irony in the judge’s ruling, as Fox News pointed out: “Germain took particular umbrage at Pawlowski’s speaking tour throughout the United States over the summer, during which he met with lawmakers and warned audiences that Western governments increasingly resemble the communist regime in Poland he fled as a young man.”
“Footage from the trip, the justice claimed, was evidence that ‘Pastor Pawlowski oozes hubris, while relishing in his notoriety.’”
First, swap “Justice Germain” into that sentence, and, at least now, it rings a bit more true.
Second, it’s curious Germain is so troubled by the fact Pawlowski compared Canada to communist Poland during a speaking tour after his arrest. The judge is literally telling the pastor what he must say when speaking in public.
Whether or not Pawlowski’s opinions resemble yours or mine is irrelevant. We’re well past the point that COVID-19 has become an endemic disease with vaccines and treatments people can choose to avail themselves of, just as we’re well past the point every sentient person in North America is aware of what public health authorities say about masks and social distancing — even if both the advice and estimates of its efficacy shift with some frequency.
To the extent individuals will or will not avail themselves of COVID-19 treatments or of Alberta Health Services’ advice, they won’t be doing so because of a pro forma statement forced into Artur Pawlowski’s mouth by a judge — and that’s not the point.
The point is the judge can put those words into Pawlowski’s mouth. If he doesn’t parrot them, he’ll find himself back in front of a justice system which absolutely isn’t acting like the one he left in Poland as a young man.
Don’t make Justice Germain take more umbrage, mister. You won’t like him when he’s umbraged.
If the sanction stands, Pawlowski vows to be right back in front of the court.
Did this court go too far?
“When I grew up under the boots of the Soviets, the courts like this were called ‘show courts,’” he told Fox News. “It was to show that the government can do with you whatever they want, and there is nothing you can do about it. And it’s just to scare the public, telling you, ‘See, we can finish off anyone we want.’ They’re terrified of the truth.”
“I’m not hiding. I’m not a criminal. I said I will not obey this court order. I refuse to obey a crooked judge’s order. He’s not a judge, he’s a political activist.”
And one who made himself look like a petty tyrant, at that.