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Canadian pastor convicted of “mischief” for giving a 17-minute sermon to Freedom Convoy protestors is set free for time served


“For the past 18 months, they’ve done everything in their power to force me to say that I am guilty, that I’m sorry. They were forcing me to apologize, but I have nothing to apologize for. They have everything to apologize for.”


Canadian pastor Artur Pawlowski was sentenced to 60 days in jail yesterday for delivering a sermon to truckers taking part in the Freedom Convoy blockade in Coutts, Alberta, along the U.S.-Canadian border, but he was allowed to go free due to the fact that he had already spent 78 days in jail after his initial arrest.

Quick Facts

In February 2022, Pawlowski was arrested after delivering a sermon in which he encouraged the truckers to continue their protest. At the time prosecutors claimed that Pawlowski’s sermon was an “overt threat to violence” and he was charged with “mischief —despite the fact that Pawlowski told the truckers more than once to be peaceful as they continue to “hold the line” against a government infringing on their freedoms.

The embattled pastor, who has been arrested by the Albertan government at least five times for holding church during COVID and speaking out against its illegal rules, was held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day and served 78 days in jail before his trial.

Yesterday, he received his sentence: 60 days in jail. Justice Gordon Krinke ruled that his time served counted toward his sentence and ordered Pawlowski set free. Krinke also ruled that Pawlowski did not play a role in planning the convoy and his appearance was not a major role in the protests.

The prosecution has asked that Pawlowski be imprisoned for 8 to 10 months. Prosecutor Steven Johnston said that Pawlowski’s sermon fanned the flames of the protest.

“This case is not about freedom of religion and it is not about free speech. This case is a straightforward criminal case,” he claimed. “All protests have to take place within the rule of law. As a person, you don’t get to choose what laws you follow.”

Johnston continued, “In this case, the accused comes before the court with no sense of remorse. The lack of remorse, the lack of introspection is important in this case because of the fact he is likely a high risk to redo this.”

Pawlowski’s attorney Sarah Miller retorted, “Mr. Pawlowski accepts responsibility. The Crown seeks to have Mr. Pawlowski bend the knee, to jail him until he abandons his beliefs, and to keep him in custody for an indeterminate period of time.”

Krinke acknowledged that Pawlowski was unrepentant, but that fact meant it served no purpose to put him on probation. He did rule that “[a] period of incarceration is required in order to achieve the objectives of denunciation and deterrence.”

After his sentencing Pawlowski stood by his wife and family and spoke to a massive gathering of hundreds of supporters. He continued his criticisms of the government and his intention to continue standing up for freedom.

“For the past 18 months, they’ve done everything in their power to force me to say that I am guilty, that I’m sorry, they were forcing me to apologize, but I have nothing to apologize for. They have everything to apologize for. The crooked prosecutors, the liars, the manipulators, the political traitors within our beloved Canada — they should live every day in shame for what they are doing to us.”

Pawlowski posted on his Facebook page: “A Free Man! The Fight Continues! Praise Jesus! ‘Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm.’ – Psalm 105:15.”

Josh Alexander, a young Canadian who has had his own run-ins with government persecution for publicly speaking his Christian beliefs, wrote on X, formerly Twitter,

“Artur Pawlowski is a free man. However, don’t forget that a Canadian pastor served months in prison, and solitary confinement for giving the gospel. Lukewarm Christians need to stand up. @ArturPawlowski1 walks free today not because our government recognizes the evil in their ways but because he has already experienced the consequences of his supposed crime. Artur was found guilty and sentenced to prison for the Gospel.”

Pawlowski plans to appeal, saying that he hopes a higher court will recognize his treatment and conviction as a clear violation of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

What was Pastor Pawlowski’s crime? He gave a sermon using speech that Canada’s leaders didn’t like, speech that criticized their illegal actions, speech that went against their approved orthodoxy, speech that reminded his audience of their rights as a free people.

Canada’s national and provincial executives, including Alberta’s, did not have the authority to enact the COVID public health orders that they imposed, something the government has since acknowledged. Yet when the truckers protested vaccine mandates and other onerous rules, like being forced to quarantine for two weeks every time they traveled across the U.S. border, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau not only smeared the protesters as championing “hate, abuse, and racism” but he also enacted martial law. Now even though the government has admitted a few of its wrongs, Pawlowski was still convicted for giving a sermon.

This is the danger that occurs when the government is permitted to seize power for itself under the auspices of keeping people “safe.” Pawlowski know this tactic from having grown up in Poland under communist rule. He immigrated to Canada but couldn’t help but notice the creeping totalitarianism in his adopted country.

For years he has sought to warn both his fellow citizens and Americans about the growing loss of freedoms taking place in Canada. Even though the COVID pandemic has now passed, the government’s addiction to power and its willingness to infringe on Canadians’ inalienable rights has not abated.

If Americans aren’t careful we could soon also find ourselves in prison simply for attending church or for speaking out against the government’s preferred orthodoxy. We’ve seen it in the last several weeks with the conviction and immediate remand of pro-life protesters who staged what was effectively a sit-in at an abortion clinic to try to save human lives.

Americans must recognize the very real danger of making a deal with any government that offers to trade safety and security in exchange for individual freedom. Too many were willing to do that during the COVID pandemic but are hopefully beginning to wake up now that the overreach has extended far beyond public health.

In a free country, the government answers to the people, not the other way around. Americans must remember this. And like Pastor Pawlowski, we must peacefully stand firm, speak the truth, and “hold the line” whenever the government exceeds the powers granted to it under the Constitution — or infringes on the individual rights granted by God.

The Church must be involved in public discourse and influence. That’s why we write — so our readers can be equipped to understand and pursue righteous change in the world. For more timely, informative, and faith-based content, subscribe to the Standing for Freedom Center newsletter.

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