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‘Deliberate and wilful’: Calgary judge finds men guilty of flouting COVID rules

Trio ‘openly flouted the efforts of AHS to control a third wave of virus’: judge
A message of support on the closed front door of the Whistle Stop Cafe in Mirror, Alta., on Saturday, May 8, 2021. An Alberta judge has found a Calgary pastor, his brother and the owner of the cafe guilty of contempt for violating COVID-19 health orders. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

An Alberta judge has found a Calgary pastor, his brother and a cafe owner guilty of contempt for deliberately violating COVID-19 health orders.

Pastor Artur Pawlowski and his brother Dawid Pawlowski were arrested in May and accused of organizing an illegal gathering as well as promoting and attending an illegal gathering.

Christopher Scott, the owner of the Whistle Stop Cafe in the hamlet of Mirror, northeast of Red Deer, was arrested last month at the end of an anti-lockdown rally. The cafe had been closed by health officials earlier in the week.

The arrests came after court orders were granted allowing Alberta Health Services and police to arrest and charge those who advertise gatherings that would breach health restrictions.

Justice Adam Germain said Monday that the orders were implemented as Alberta hospitals and intensive care units became overcrowded.

“Some Albertans, including Pastor Artur Pawlowski, his brother Dawid Pawlowski and Christopher Scott, openly flouted the efforts of AHS to control a third wave of virus,” Germain told the court.

Germain said Alberta Health Services filed extensive affidavits, which included videos and still shots of web pages and social media, that illustrated the three men were “vocal objectors” to health orders and were “openly encouraging gatherings contrary to the rules.”

“I concluded in all cases that Alberta Health Services had proven, nearly to absolute certainty, that all three of the respondents … are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of contempt.”

The judge said the three had more than ample knowledge of the existence of the court orders.

“The orders were clear and unambiguous and the breach of them was deliberate and wilful, nor were there any legally recognized excuses. There is no turning back from this.”

The matter is back in court July 27, when lawyers are to discuss sanctions.

—Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press