The government of Alberta is billing Rebel News for access to documents relating to the persecution of Calgary Pastor Art Pawlowski for the crime of opening his church.
This isn't the first time we’ve received an invoice instead of documents in the course of investigating the treatment of a pastor at the hands of the state.
Last week, I told you about how the Alberta Ministry of Justice and Solicitor General put a paywall in front of documents and information relating to Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church, west of Edmonton.
Coates and GraceLife Church garnered both international attention and months of harassment and surveillance at the hands of police and Alberta Health Services, after the pastor and his congregation refused to comply with public health orders that would limit church attendance to 15 per cent of fire code capacity and force congregants to mask and social distance.
Coates was arrested twice and, upon the second arrest, served 35 days in Edmonton’s maximum security Remand Centre, unable to agree to bail conditions that would require him to limit his church attendance. However, the church kept meeting with associate pastor Jake Spenst at the pulpit. Coates was released after a deal was struck, but the province moved in to seize the church property for three months, forcing the congregation to meet in secret.
When I asked for government documents regarding GraceLife, I was instead hit with a nearly $2,000 bill to discourage my curiosity. It didn't work. Instead, I filed for more documents about other pastors, including Pastor Art.
We’ve all seen the viral images of Artur Pawlowski on his knees in a SWAT-style takedown on a Calgary highway for refusing to abide by a court order to close his church. His arrest resulted in two days in jail, and if you’ve been following his case, you’ll know the province is asking for 21 more days of incarceration for contempt of the order that the government used to label his congregation an "illegal public gathering."
You can see the full story, the updates from Art’s lawyers and help fund the fulsome and aggressive legal defence of Pastor Art Pawlowski and his brother Dawid at www.SaveArtur.com.
My colleagues in Calgary, Kian ‘K2’ Simone and Adam Soos, are working overtime to cover the plight of Pastor Art. They are doing a great job, but I want to help them, doing one of the things I think I do well: access to information.
I asked the Alberta government to “provide copies of all documents, including emails, texts or instant messages, Slack messages, WhatsApp messages, memos, briefing notes, correspondence reports, etc. regarding Pastor Art Pawlowski of Street Church in Calgary since January 1st 2020” until when I requested these documents, on May 21, 2021.
Instead of a stack of government correspondence to leaf through, I received a free estimate of nearly $1,250 to get access to 1,040 pages. The government wants about $625 of this immediately, and I need to inform the ministry if I want the documents by August 3. We’re going to pay the fee, begrudgingly, while appealing the costs.
If you would like to help me find out what the government was saying about Pastor Art Pawlowski before, during and after they arrested him and held him for opening his church, please donate today at www.RebelInvestigates.com.