A prominent Canadian pastor is now free to criticize the government’s lockdowns and restrictions on Christian worship in response to coronavirus after an appellate court suspended the enforcement of a lower court ruling requiring him to state the government’s preferred narrative about the lockdowns every time he made public remarks.
Pastor Artur Pawlowski of Street Church and The Cave of Adullam in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, who has become a well-known figure for his outspoken objection to authorities' restrictions on corporate worship and viral videos documenting his tense exchanges with law enforcement officials seeking to enforce the restrictions, will no longer have to abide by the provisions of a ruling that required him to utter government-approved talking points about the coronavirus whenever he criticized worship restrictions or vaccine mandates.
Ezra Levant of Rebel Media, a news outlet that has worked to raise money to pay for Pawlowski’s legal bills, announced in a video message Thursday that “the Alberta Court of Appeal stayed the sentence given to Pastor Artur Pawlowski.”
Levant added that the appellate court’s decision means that Pawlowski no longer has to abide by the terms of the “bizarre and unconstitutional provisions” of a ruling that forced Pawlowski to issue an addendum after making “any public comment relating to the pandemic or the lockdowns.”
“The Alberta Court of Appeal stayed the enforcement of that and ordered an expedited hearing,” Levant added. “I’m so optimistic. It’s not the final battle but it’s a great beginning to what I hope is a freedom-oriented ending here.”
The ruling, issued last month by Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Adam Germain, required Pawlowski to issue an addendum any time he wanted to speak out against Alberta Health Services’ “Health Orders and AHS recommendations in a public gathering or public forum (including electronic social media).” The addendum required him to say: “I am 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 favor social distancing, mask-wearing, and avoiding large crowds to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” the addendum continued. “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.”
Sarah Miller, Pawlowski’s attorney, spoke to Rebel News after the appellate court’s ruling, noting that “the Court of Appeal heard us yesterday morning” and “came back by the afternoon with the right decision, which is those provisions should not be enforced until the appeal is heard.”
Pawlowski also reacted favorably to the ruling and recalled how he felt when he learned that he no longer had to issue “horrific compelled speech from North Korea” whenever he criticized coronavirus worship restrictions and coronavirus vaccine mandates.
“My heart jumped,” he said. “I was driving with my brother Dawid … and we just like fist-bumped.” Pawlowski maintained that the ruling caused him to conclude that “maybe there is hope in this country, maybe we can turn this around with the judges, maybe there’s some judges in this country that still value freedom of speech, freedom of expression, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the criminal code of conduct.”
Pawlowski expressed gratitude that “finally, we have a judge that looks at this and says … ‘This is un-Canadian, this is illegal, this is against the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and is just simply wrong.” He cited the ruling as evidence that “we have not lost our nation yet and there are still good people everywhere.”
After Germain first handed down his ruling, Pawlowski lamented that he had to “lie” every time he made remarks about the government’s response to coronavirus: “I have to become a liar every time I open my mouth to appease the corrupted judges and the corrupted court systems and the corrupted politicians.”
Germain’s ruling followed Pawlowski’s May 8 arrest for holding in-person worship services in violation of a court order. In addition to requiring him to recite an addendum whenever he criticized the government restrictions on corporate worship and other lockdown requirements, Germain’s ruling required Pawlowski to pay a $23,000 fine and complete 120 hours of community service. The Court of Appeal’s ruling suspending the enforcement of the “compelled speech” order will be in effect until the appeal is heard on June 14, 2022.
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org