Artur Pawlowski, 50, is pastor of the Cave of Adullam church in Alberta, Calgary, where his 2021 confrontation with local authorities went viral during the COVID-19 pandemic. The six police officers demanded to count the number of church congregants to enforce a 15% capacity rule but the angry pastor called them "Gestapo!" while chasing them out.
After that confrontation, which occurred on Easter weekend, the vocal pastor became both a celebrity and a target. Pawlowski now faces up to 10 years in prison on charges of mischief and breaching a release order after giving a 19-minute speech to truckers who blocked Alberta’s border in their COVID-19 vaccine protest in February of 2022.
Now under house arrest, Pawlowski is awaiting an Aug. 9 court date.
He appeared by video call to a meeting of the European Union parliament on July 4 minutes after his son, Nathanial Pawlowski, delivered an in-person, impassioned plea for the group’s assistance.
“I’m here today in desperation, a cry for help," Nathaniel Pawlowski said. "I would like to stand here and tell you all the things about freedom and democracy that I like, but I no longer know those things. They have been taken away from us Canadians. Canada has fallen."
Three years ago, the Alberta Legislature passed the Critical Infrastructure Defence Act in response to earlier railroad blockade protests. The measure calls for hefty fines and possible imprisonment for any person or company found to have blocked, damaged or entered without authorization an “essential infrastructure.”
Opponents say the bill limits the right to protest.
“We no longer have freedom of religion, freedom of speech or the right to protest, assemble, associate or express ourselves or have free media or disagree with the government. Anyone who does so is arrested, charged and jailed as political dissidents,” Nathaniel Pawlowski told Parliament members.
Flashback to communist Poland
After that 2021 incident, Artur Pawlowski has now been arrested four times. The elder Pawlowski told Fox News that first confrontation in his church was a “flashback” to his time growing up in Poland. Back then, his family lived in constant fear of police crashing into their home to drag someone away. He said Canadian authorities were using that same fear to intimidate fellow Canadians to submit to illegal COVID rules and mandates.
Nathaniel Pawlowski said government officials did not like that his father compared the trucker’s protest to Poland’s Solidarity movement. Solidarity, which claimed 9.4 million members at its height, used civil resistance to advance workers’ rights and social change. After a near-decade long struggle it reemerged in 1989 to become the first opposition movement to participate in free elections in a Soviet-bloc nation since the 1940s.
“A Christian sermon that referenced the solidarity movement was criminal in our government’s eyes,” Nathaniel Pawlowski said.
The younger Pawlowski told the Parliament he has been charged for reading the Bible in public “because the government claims the Bible isn’t inclusive and is hateful” and that his father’s pending case will have implications far beyond Canada.
“This case sets a precedent to all Canadians and the world that anybody, including politicians and media," he warned, "does not have the freedom to say or express what they have on their hearts for fear that what they say is mischief and could make them liable to prison.”
The son urged Parliament members to use their influence to help his father, calling out Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau by name. In the speech, the prime minister was compared to Caligula, the ruthless Roman emperor.
"All of this is being done under the guise of health, safety and protecting us by stripping our rights and ushering in tyranny," Nathaniel Pawlowski said. "We must not allow Canada to treat its citizens and especially clergy this way."