June 16th, 2024

Pastor arrested after Coutts involvement denied bail

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on February 17, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

Calgary pastor Artur Pawlowski, who has been remanded since his arrest last week for participating in the freedom blockade at Coutts, will remain in custody, a judge has ruled.
Lethbridge Judge Erin Olsen denied Pawlowski bail Wednesday, and agreed with the Crown’s concerns that the accused will re-offend and undermine the public’s confidence in the administration of justice, if he is released.
“There is a substantial likelihood that the accused will, if released from custody, commit a criminal offence or interfere with the administration of justice,” Olsen said. “The accused’s pattern of behaviour speaks volumes about his willful commission of offences and/or violations of court and public health orders.”
Olsen referred to several previous incidents in past months in which Pawlowski showed civil disobedience and willfully breached health orders and court orders. And his disdain was evident during his bail hearing last week when the judge asked him if he was able to clearly hear the proceedings from his location at the Calgary Remand Centre.
“It was a simple question, asked because I could not see the accused, but could only hear him over the telephone. Instead of answering the question, he tried to insult the court’s proceedings. This is consistent with his previous conduct in the Court of Queen’s Bench and his ignorance of, and disdain for, the rule of law.
“I conclude that the accused has demonstrated that he will not follow court orders. He will not respect public health orders, he will flout orders that he personally disagrees with, and he will not be deterred in his approach to court and public health orders by having to pay, or using other’s money to pay, large fines and costs awards.”
Pawlowski, 48, faces, in relation to his attendance last week at the freedom protest at the Coutts border, criminal charges of breaching a release order to keep the peace and committing mischief by inciting others to block the lawful use of public property. He also faces a charge under the provincial Critical Infrastructure Defence Act. He was arrested Feb. 8 at his home in Calgary.
Pawlowski, a Polish immigrant who grew up under Communist oppression before emigrating to Canada, made international headlines after he was arrested last May for holding worship services during Calgary’s COVID lockdown.
His latest arrest last week came only days after he attended the protest in Coutts, during which he gave a speech at Smugglers Saloon and is heard in a video telling protestors to not give up the fight against government mandates.
“You have power now, don’t give it away,” Pawlowski said. “The eyes of the world, again, are on this little border, and the world is watching you. Will you give in? Will you stop fighting for the rights of the free Canadians?”
Olsen noted that the defence raised “free speech” as part of its argument during the bail hearing, and she referred to the Charter which protects freedom of thought, belief, opinion, and expression. However, she also pointed out that no rights in Canada are absolute and are subject to reasonable limits prescribed by law.
“It is a well-established law that counselling a criminal offence is not protected speech.”
Olsen reminded counsel that during the accused’s speech in Coutts, he made several statements that could be interpreted as counselling and and/or abetting the offence of mischief by preventing the free-flow of goods and people across Canada’s international border with the United States.
“For example, he referred specifically to ‘paralyzing their system,’ and ‘blocking the entire thing’.”
Olsen noted the Crown had argued that additional comments Pawlowski made indicate support for violence.
“I have chosen not to quote him more, to avoid the appearance of legitimizing any of his statements. Suffice to say, the Crown has a strong case.”
Olsen said the defence, on the other hand, did not present the court with a strong bail plan, which might have alleviated many of the court’s concerns. And while the defence suggested its proposed release conditions could alleviate the concerns, it did not explain how.
“Given the reverse onus; given the accused’s history of non-compliance; and given his own statements in a video-recorded speech…some explanation should have been offered as to how and why the accused would respond differently to my release order than to prior court and public health orders. Without such explanation, I have no confidence in his willingness or ability to comply.”
Following Olsen’s decision, the matter was adjourned to March 11 to allow the defence time to receive disclosure from the Crown’s office and discuss its next steps.

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well, if the court has been insulted and all, lock him up in the king’s tower, and prepare him for execution. and, nice reference to our limits and privileges, rather than to our rights and freedoms.

[…] and undermine the public’s confidence in the administration of justice, if he is released,” the Lethbridge Herald […]

[…] Le 17 février, la juge Erin Olsen, de Lethbridge, s’est dite d’accord avec les préoccupations du gouvernement selon lesquelles le pasteur « récidivera et minera la confiance du public dans l’administration de la justice, s’il est libéré », a rapporté le Lethbridge Herald. […]