EXCLUSIVE: The Polish-Canadian pastor who has been jailed for holding church services in Calgary, Alberta, said he will refuse to obey a court order mandating him to publicly echo the established opinions of medical experts regarding COVID-19.
Pastor Artur Pawlowski was sanctioned by Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Adam Germain to 18 months of probation, according to a written ruling released Friday.
The ruling is the latest development in Alberta’s ongoing legal battle against Pawlowski, who faced a civil contempt charge for holding church services in violation of a court order forbidding organizing, promoting or attending an “illegal public gathering.”
He faced another contempt charge for repeatedly ejecting armed officials attempting to inspect his sanctuary for COVID-19 compliance, for which he first drew international attention.
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In addition to tens of thousands of dollars in costs and fines, one condition of Pawlowski’s probation requires him to parrot “the majority of medical experts in Alberta” regarding social distancing, mask wearing and vaccines, even when he speaks in church.
“The final term of his probation order will be that when he is exercising his right of free speech and speaking against [Alberta Health Services] Health Orders and AHS health recommendations, in a public gathering or public forum (including electronic social media), he must indicate in his communications the following,” wrote Germain, who appended a script:
“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 told Fox News he has no intention of complying with Germain’s sanction, which he condemned as “unconstitutional,” “illegal,” and a clear instance of “compelled speech like in China and North Korea.”
“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.
Pawlowski said the judge’s condition is “without precedent” in Canada, an assertion echoed by his lawyer, Sarah Miller, who described Germain’s sanction as “bizarre” and “likely unconstitutional” under Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees freedom of expression.
“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 told Fox News. “I’ve never heard of any kind of probationary period which includes conditions that compelled certain speech. It seems highly unusual and rare.”
Miller said it remains unclear how and to what extent Pawlowski’s speech will be monitored for compliance, but noted there appears to be no caveat protecting what he says from the pulpit.
“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.”
Germain, a former politician with the Alberta Liberal Party, also issued an extensive and personal rebuke to Pawlowski in which he speculated that the pastor wants to be punished.
Prosecutors for Alberta Health Services (AHS) were seeking 21 days in jail for Pawlowski, but Germain said he decided against such a sentence because “it would be a slap on the wrist that will make him a martyr.”
Germain also said Pawlowski “taunted me to imprison him” with his statement before the court in September, when he claimed to be “a political prisoner of conscience” and denounced Canadian politicians as “liars, hypocrites and cheaters.”
Pawlowski told Germain that if he intended to imprison him as AHS was demanding, he should also imprison Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, who apologized in June after being caught violating his own health regulations 24 different ways during one private dinner with members of his cabinet.
Germain singled out Pawlowski’s denunciation of Kenney, claiming he viewed it as evidence of the pastor’s “fervent desire that I martyr him by giving him a little more jail time to add a little more gasoline to the anti-mask, anti-vaccination fire.”
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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.”
Pawlowski, whose probation also forbids him from leaving the province, suggested to Fox News that Germain’s attitude and sanctions prove the point he was trying to make throughout his U.S. tour.
“When I grew up under the boots of the Soviets, the courts like this were called ‘show courts,'” he said. “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,” he added.
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The Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment in time for publication.
Since the pandemic, other churches throughout Canada have faced imprisoned pastors, locked facilities, steep fines and continued interference from government officials.