The court date for Pastor Artur Pawlowski has been postponed several times since his release, though we expect that the upcoming May 26 date is not likely to be rescheduled. To ensure that his legal battle is not compromised, Artur has made the tactical decision to await his day in court at home with his family in prayer, as any public engagement could potentially complicate his legal defence.
The recent revelation that Alberta Minister of Health Tyler Shandro targeted Artur, along with a number of other pastors and political dissidents in the province, has raised serious questions about the impartiality of the enforcement actions and legal process that is being applied in the case of Pastor Artur. In my conversations with the congregants at Pastor Artur’s church, they are unified in the prayerful support of his strategic action.
Pastor Peter has officially taken the reins of continuing worship at the church while Artur focuses on his legal battle. For the second week in a row, the congregation gathered outside for worship. Worship proceeded without issue or interference from authorities. At most police drove by occasionally and slowed down before driving off. There was one flyover by a police helicopter but there was no clear indication that they were scouting the scene as they left very quickly.
The friendly neighborhood counter-protesters once again provided a now all-too-common expletive laden back and forth with a few congregants, but the interaction was short lived and did not detract from worship meaningfully.
In a concerning development, we learned that a number of individuals who were arrested last weekend were in attendance at the May 15 worship service. Authorities used their attendance at worship as the justification for the arrests under the May 6 court order. Prior to these arrests, the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms was successful in obtaining an amendment to that May 6 order which limited the scope of the order exclusively to parties named in relation to the case of the Whistle Stop Café. As such, it has been confirmed by numerous legal counsels that these arrests were unlawfully executed under the now amended terms of the order.
Why authorities continue to conduct illegal arrests of political dissidents with impunity is the question to which we should all be demanding an answer.