A Canadian political expert has raised concerns about the arrest of Calgary pastor Artur Pawlowski and his brother Dawid over public health violations. Haultain Research Institute President Marco Navarro-Genie said that the arrest of the Pawlowski brothers has serious implications for people’s rights and freedoms. He dubbed the COVID-19 public health order used as a basis for the Pawlowskis’ arrest as “a grotesque abuse of power.”

Navarro-Genie remarked during an interview: “People flout the laws, they’re going to have consequences. But when those consequences arrive and they are deemed to be unjust, people now do not have the recourse to assemble to protest those draconian rules.” He added the he questions the draconian nature of the response” to the Pawlowskis’ violations. “That is the kind of stuff which authoritarian regimes traffic on a day-to-day basis,” he commented.

The president of the Canadian think tank made the comments in light of the Pawlowski brothers’ arrest. The Calgary Police Service (CPS) arrested Artur and Dawid on a Calgary highway as they were heading home on May 8. According to law enforcement, the two were arrested for holding a church service in violation of pandemic restrictions put in place by the province of Alberta.

In a statement, CPS said the arrest was made “in relation to mandatory compliance of public health orders for gatherings.” It added that Artur and Dawid pushed through with their service and deliberately “chose to ignore requirements” such as maintaining social distance, wearing face masks and limiting the number of attendees.

Law enforcement took the brothers into custody as a result of flouting these public health requirements. Artur and Dawid were subsequently charged with allegedly organizing an illegal mass gathering and “requesting, inciting or inviting others” to join. Both brothers were released two days later after posting bail. They are set to appear during a May 20 court hearing to determine if a contempt trial will proceed.

The CPS statement noted: “Law enforcement recognizes people’s desire to participate in faith-based gatherings, as well as the right to protest. However, as we find ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic, we must all comply with public health orders … to ensure everyone’s safety and well-being.”

The Pawlowskis escaped communism in Poland – only to enter Canadian medical tyranny

Two days before the Pawlowskis’ arrest, the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta empowered Alberta Health Services (AHS) to stop various gatherings and demonstrations via a pre-emptive injunction. Under the injunction, rallies and other mass gatherings are now deemed illegal if they do not comply with public health requirements put in place by the provincial chief medical officer of health (CMOH). The AHS can also order the closure of any business that does not comply with CMOH-mandated requirements.

Alberta’s public health agency first issued the order against the owner of Whistle Stop Café in Mirror Landing – ordering its closure on May 5. According to AHS, the establishment has continued to breach local COVID-19 health restrictions – and even planned to hold a protest. In a May 6 statement, the agency defended its move against the café because of “ongoing risk to Albertans created by those breaching COVID-19 public health restrictions and advertising social gatherings.”

Navarro-Genie remarked that people are oftentimes torn between obeying the law and standing up for their rights. He brought up two main issues in relation to this conflict. First, while people should ideally follow the law – they should be vigilant about whether these new changes in existing laws are legitimate. “In a liberal democracy, people have the constitutional right to challenge … and to oppose rules that they believe are unjust or ill-intended,” he said.

Second, Navarro-Génie pointed out lockdowns’ lack of scientific basis. He elaborated: “These are absolute experiments. We have never – in the history of humankind – done this kind of thing where entire societies [and] entire countries are locked down.” 

Pawlowski warns that Canada is turning into another Poland

Meanwhile, Artur said his experience reminded him of Poland under communist leadership. Speaking to Christianity Daily, the pastor called the “horrible” COVID-19 restrictions “a repetition of history.” Artur continued: “I grew up behind the Iron Curtain. I escaped communism … [in] Poland because I wanted to come to a country that is free.”

The pastor feared that measures to stop the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus are also eroding people’s liberty. “That’s the state telling the people what they can do [and] what they cannot. Seeing what [the state] is doing … scares me,” he said. He also warned that the restrictions are killing the spirit of community that keeps societies “sane, together and strong.”

Artur earlier made headlines by posting a video of police officers inspecting his church in April. He subsequently expelled the officers from his church and compared them to the Gestapo secret police in Nazi Germany.

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