Three Alberta men a Calgary-based street preacher, his brother, and a café owner were found guilty of contempt for “deliberate and intentional” violations of judicial orders ordering them to observe COVID–19 public health guidelines, according to a judge. Pastor Artur Pawlowski of Street Church Ministries and his brother, Dawid Pawlowski, as well as Christopher Scott, owner of the Whistle Stop Cafe in Mirror, Alta., “openly flaunted Alberta Health Services’ efforts” to keep citizens safe during the pandemic’s third wave, when Alberta had the highest COVID-19 case counts in North America.
In his judgment, delivered in Calgary on Monday morning, Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Adam Germain stated. Next month, the three will face a sentencing hearing. Meanwhile, Calgary mayoral candidate Kevin J. Johnston will find out his fate on Friday after defense lawyer Ian McCuaig finished arguments in his contempt case late Monday afternoon.
McCuaig argued that finding Johnston in contempt for violating three different judge’s orders would be a violation of his client’s Charter-protected right to free expression. Johnston is in hot water for threatening AHS inspectors on social media, inciting huge gatherings, and violating public health orders. As incidents of COVID-19 public health order scofflaws continued to grow in the province, the Alberta government proposed new measures in early May to try to crack down on repeat offenders.
Fines for violating public health orders have been raised to $2,000, and Justice Minister Kaycee Madu has announced a new enforcement protocol to target those who do not comply with directives. Two courts issued directives aimed at reining down habitual rule-breakers.