July 23rd, 2024

Pastor charged in Coutts blockade preparing for trial

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on May 7, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

Calgary pastor Artur Pawlowski is preparing for trial in relation to offences he is accused of committing during the trucker protest at the Coutts border earlier this year.
Pawlowski’s lawyer, Chad Haggerty of Calgary, appeared in Lethbridge provincial court Friday, where he pleaded not guilty on behalf of his client to 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. Pawlowski also pleaded not guilty to one charge under the provincial Critical Infrastructure Defence Act, which prohibits anyone from willfully damaging or destroying essential infrastructure.
Pawlowski was arrested Feb. 8, only days after he attended the protest in Coutts. While at the protest, he gave a speech at Smugglers Saloon and is heard in a video telling protestors to not give up the fight against government mandates.
During his bail hearing Feb. 10, Crown Prosecutor Steven Johnston said Pawlowski’s speech does not promote a peaceful protest but is laced with threats of violence, and he repeated the accused’s comments that there weren’t enough police or a big enough army to deal with the protestors.
“He’s not talking about in any manner a peaceful protest at that point in time,” Johnston said. “He’s clearly in the context of his speech referencing to the notion that there would be some sort of violence.”
Johnston said the accused is prepared to be arrested for the cause and encourages people to rise up against the rules.
“If this is our Alamo, then so be it,” Johnston quoted Pawlowski.
That comment, Johnston suggested, is a dimly veiled reference to the soldiers who died while defending the Alamo Mission.
“The Crown says that is not a veiled threat to violence, it’s an overt threat to violence.”
Pawlowski was denied bail in February, but released on the charges in March following a bail review in Lethbridge Court of Queen’s Bench. He was released on $25,000 cash bail, and his wife and son, who agreed to be sureties, are on the hook for $10,000 and $2,000 respectively should Pawlowski breach his bail conditions.
Pawlowski, a Polish immigrant who grew up under Communist oppression before emigrating to Canada, made international headlines after he was arrested a year ago for holding worship services during Calgary’s COVID lockdown. He was subsequently released, but later charged with breaching his release conditions.
During Friday’s brief hearing in Lethbridge, Haggerty suggested Pawlowski’s trial will likely run for three days. The matter was simply adjourned, however, to schedule a pre-trial conference. The case returns to court May 27, ostensibly to schedule trial dates.

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