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Canada Sentences Pastor to Prison for Protesting Coronavirus Lockdowns

Published: September 20, 2023 | Print Friendly and PDF
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Source: breitbart

Artur Pawlowski in Calgary, Alberta

Facebook/March for Jesus

A court in Alberta, Canada, sentenced Pastor Artur Pawlowski on Monday to 60 days in prison for a speech to Freedom Convoy truckers in February 2022 in which he supported their protests against repressive lockdown, vaccine, and other mandates related to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic.

Pawlowski, who first rose to prominence for expelling Canadian police from his church for trying to shut down an Easter service in 2021, faced multiple charges, including “mischief,” a crime in Canada, and violating the Critical Infrastructure Defense Act (CIDA). The latter charge suggested that Pawlowski’s speaking to protesters on the Alberta-Montana border was an attack on the province’s road infrastructure, as he encouraged them to continue an ongoing blockade demanding the lifting of coronavirus-related mandates. Prosecutors were demanding up to ten months in prison for the pastor on the grounds that he has publicly and repeatedly denied having any remorse for his vocal opposition to lockdowns.

“I’m not ashamed of what I did. If I had a chance to do it again, I would do it again, gladly,” Pawlowski told a crowd of supporters after his conviction on Monday.

Judge Gordon Krinke reserved a conviction on the charges of attacking infrastructure, as Pawlowski’s defense had challenged the CIDA as unconstitutional, and proceedings regarding that law are ongoing. He found Pawlowski guilty of “mischief” and breaching a release order in May. The 60-day sentence handed down on Monday includes time served, so Pawlowski walked out of the court free – but with a criminal conviction on his record.

“A period of incarceration is required in order to achieve the objectives of denunciation and deterrence,” Krinke said at the sentencing, according to the CBC.

Prior to the sentencing, prosecutor Steven Johnston argued that the case, in which Pawlowski faced charges for delivering a sermon, was “not about freedom of religion and it is not about free speech.”

“In this case, the accused comes before the court with no sense of remorse,” Johnston said. “The lack of remorse, the lack of introspection is important in this case because of the fact he is likely a high risk to redo this.”

Pawlowski appeared to agree in remarks to the 200 supporters who convened to celebrate his release on Monday.

“For the past 18 months they’ve done everything in their power to force me to say that I am guilty, that I am sorry. They were forcing me to apologize, but I have nothing to apologize for,” the pastor said.

“I hope that my oppressors are listening because this is not over. This is just the beginning,” Pawlowski added, also stating that he would “gladly” repeat the actions that resulted in his arrest if he deemed it necessary:

Hundreds of supporters similarly rallied in support of the pastor following his initial conviction in May.

Canada faced a wave of protests in early 2022 that later came to be known as the “Freedom Convoy” due to the large presence of truckers using their vehicles to occupy space throughout the country in protest. Many convened in Ottawa, the nation’s capital, where they blocked the streets with their trucks, honked loudly for extended periods of time, and built a peaceful tent camp with a festival atmosphere to which many brought their children.

Robert Kraychik / Breitbart News
 
Robert Kraychik / Breitbart News
 

The objective of the Freedom Convoy protests was to pressure radical leftist Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the provincial governments to end vaccine mandates – which disproportionately hurt truckers attempting to regularly travel between provinces – as well as the suspension of freedoms of assembly and religion. Protesters also demanded the full reopening of all schools, an end to mask mandates, and other restrictions.

Pawlowski was charged with criminal actions for his speech to a Freedom Convoy group that convened on the border between Alberta and Montana in early 2022, causing major disruptions in regional commerce by shutting down the road. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney ended the vaccine passport system and mask mandate for schoolchildren in place at the time during the ongoing blockade.

Pawlowski told the protesters during a sermon at the local Smuggler’s Saloon in February 2022 that they were “heroes” and encouraged them not to “go breaking the line.”

“I believe that the eyes of the world are fixed on this place right here. That’s right — this little pitiful piece of land,” Pawlowski said. “The eyes of the world are fixed right here on you guys. You are the heroes. Don’t you dare go breaking the line. … For the first time in two years, you have the power. You pack your stuff, you go to Edmonton and you will be lost.”

Pawlowski posted an extended recording of his speech on Rumble on Monday.

Pawlowski has faced a barrage of other criminal charges for his opposition to restrictions on freedom of assembly and other civil rights violations by the Trudeau government during the pandemic.

Pawlowski first faced police trouble for holding an “illegal” Easter service in April 2021, attracting six police officers who tried to shut it down. Pawlowski forced them out of his church, disparaging them as “Gestapo Nazi communist fascists” and “psychopaths,” and continued his service. Police arrested him a month later for continuing to serve his faithful, contrary to the religious restrictions imposed by Canadian officials:

In addition to fines, travel restrictions, and imprisonment, the Canadian government attempted to force Pawlowski to read a government statement every time he condemned civil rights violations in the name of the pandemic, which stated in part, “The majority of medical experts favour social distancing, mask wearing, and avoiding large crowds to reduce the spread of COVID-19 [sic].”

Pawlowski appealed the many charges against him for performing the responsibilities of a pastor, and in July 2022, an Alberta court of appeals agreed, ruling that his arrest and many fines and other punishments were illegal.

Trudeau, who memorably confessed in 2019 that he had worn blackface so often he did not remember every instance in which he did so, has condemned those who opposed his civil rights violations, calling them “racist, misogynistic … anti-vaxxer mobs,” accusing Freedom Convoy supporters of “hateful rhetoric” and mocking them as “tinfoil hat”-wearers and “a few people shouting and waving swastikas.”

RELATED: Exclusive Video — Ottawa ‘Freedom Convoy’ Supporter: “Do I Look like a White Supremacist?”
Robert Kraychik / Breitbart News

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.

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