Calgary pastor, brother avoid jail time, fined $33K for violating health orders

Artur, left, and Dawid Pawlowski, after being released from custody at the Calgary Remand Centre in May 2021. (File photo)

An outspoken Calgary pastor and his brother, who is seeking to become a Calgary councillor, have been fined, placed under probation and ordered to include disclaimers when expressing their views regarding public health orders.

Sarah Miller, the lawyer representing pastor Artur Pawlowski, confirms to CTV News that her client was fined $23,000 and placed on 18 months' probation after being convicted of contempt for violating Alberta's COVID-19-related rules.

Miller says Dawid Pawlowski, who is running for Ward 11 councillor, was fined $10,000 and placed on 12 months' probation.

As part of the condition of their probation, the brothers are required to obey public health orders, stay within Alberta unless receiving approval to leave the province,  express to their followers that their views are contrary to the current health orders and acknowledge that their views are not aligned with the views of health experts.

Their sentences also require that they pay the legal costs Alberta Health Services accrued, which are estimated to exceed $20,000.

The Pawlowskis have been vocal opponents of the province's public health orders throughout the pandemic and hosted illegal gatherings and services at a church in southeast Calgary where mask requirements and physical distancing rules were violated.

While Justice Adam Germain delivered his sentencing decision, a loud demonstration from supporters could be heard outside.

The judge said the men "contributed to this ominous health situation by their defiance of health rules and their public posturing, which has encouraged others to doubt the legitimacy of the pandemic and disobey the health orders assigned to protect them."

"(They) are on the wrong side of science. They're also on the wrong side of common sense."

Alberta Health Services had asked for jail time for the Pawlowskis but Germain ruled that a prison sentence would be "a slap on the wrist that will make him a martyr."

"After pastor Artur Pawlowski was found guilty of contempt, he went on a speaking tour of the United States, where he parlayed his title as a pastor and the fact he had been arrested for holding a church service into a rally cry that attracted like-minded individuals."

The Pawlowski have been ordered to begin making payments on Nov. 1.

Christopher Scott, owner of the Whistle Stop Cafe in the hamlet of Mirror, Alta., northeast of Red Deer, was also looking at a recommended 21 days in jail. He must instead pay $20,000 in fines and costs of nearly $11,000 and serve 18 months' probation.

With files from The Canadian Press