Pastor Artur Pawlowski Gets 60-Day Jail Sentence for Coutts Speech

by EditorK
Pastor Artur Pawlowski Gets 60-Day Jail Sentence for Coutts Speech

Pastor Artur Pawlowski speaks at a Canadian “freedom rally” in Edmonton, Alta., on March 20, 2021, as part of a worldwide protest against COVID-19 restrictions. (Courtesy of Artur Pawlowski)

Andrew Chen
Updated: September 19, 2023

Calgary pastor Artur Pawlowski received a 60-day jail sentence from the Alberta Court of Justice after being found guilty earlier this year of counselling mischief. Despite the sentence, the pastor was released due to having served 78 days in pre-trial custody.

The sentence related to Mr. Pawlowski’s 17-minute speech delivered on Feb. 3, 2022, in Coutts, Alta., during the Freedom Convoy protests. This speech occurred on the fifth day of the protests when a border blockade had already been established.

Crown prosecutors argued that Mr. Pawlowski’s address to truckers had persuaded them to extend their presence at the Canada-U.S. border crossing for an additional two weeks. The blockade in Coutts was part of a nationwide movement initiated in January 2022 to protest the government’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates for truck drivers and other pandemic restrictions.

The crown attorney sought an 8- to 10-month jail term, while his defence requested a sentence of seven days plus one, taking into account time served, according to The Democracy Fund (TDF), an organization that offered financial assistance to the pastor’s legal team.

In addition to a mischief charge, Mr. Pawlowski was convicted of breaching a release order and willfully damaging or destroying essential infrastructure. He was charged both criminally and under Alberta’s Critical Infrastructure Defence Act (CIDA).

His sentence was reported in a press release on Sept. 18 by TDF, citing Rebel News, which had live-posted the sentencing on social media. Prior to this conviction, Mr. Pawlowski had no criminal record.

Alberta Justice Gordon Krinke delivered the sentence, emphasizing in his decision that the “content,” “context,” and “tone” of Mr. Pawlowski’s speech convinced him beyond a reasonable doubt that the pastor deliberately incited protestors to engage in mischief by continuing the blockade at Coutts.

TDF highlighted in its press release that no witnesses were called during the trial, and the judge relied on an agreed statement of facts, as well as a video and transcript of the speech.

Notably, Justice Krinke cited Mr. Pawlowski’s analogy in his speech that compared Convoy protestors to those involved in Poland’s solidarity movement in the 1980s, which was aimed at paralyzing the country’s communist regime through non-violent resistance.

“[Mr. Pawlowski] referred to the solidarity movement in Poland paralyzing the system as an effective means of achieving its goals. The implication to the protesters was clear: their blockade of the highway and of the border crossing would be an effective means of achieving their goals,” Justice Krinke stated in the trial decision.

Mr. Pawlowski, represented by lawyer Sarah Miller of JSS Barristers, has filed a notice to appeal the guilty verdict. His legal team will now decide on whether to appeal the sentence, according to the TDF.


You may also like