Controversial Calgary preacher denied bail pending trial on Coutts border blockade charges

A Lethbridge judge has refused to release controversial Calgary preacher Artur Pawlowski, who is accused of inciting and abetting protesters blocking the border crossing at Coutts, Alta.

Art Pawlowski charged with interrupting the operation of essential infrastructure

Artur Pawlowski, pictured during his arrest in Calgary in May 2021, has been arrested and charged again. This time he is accused of inciting protesters at the Coutts border crossing. (Artur Pawlowski TV/YouTube)

A Lethbridge judge has refused to release controversial Calgary preacher Artur Pawlowski, who is accused of inciting violence during the blockade at the Coutts, Alta., border crossing.

Pawlowski is charged with mischief over $5,000 and interrupting the operation of essential infrastructure under Alberta's Critical Infrastructure Defence Act.

On Wednesday, after a bail hearing that took place last week, provincial court Judge Erin Olsen ruled that Pawlowski cannot be released in part because he "will not follow court orders."

Olsen's decision comes a day after four men charged with conspiring to murder RCMP officers were also kept in custody while nine others facing less serious charges related to the Coutts protest were released.

Defence lawyer Chad Haggerty says he plans to appeal Olsen's decision and will continue to try to get his client released.

'People must be willing to sacrifice their lives'

Pawlowski was arrested Feb. 7, days after giving a 20-minute speech at the Smugglers Saloon in Coutts, encouraging protesters to back out of an agreement they had made with RCMP to pack up and move along.

He told them not to give up and said there were not enough RCMP officers to deal with the situation.

A video of the speech posted online shows Pawlowski telling the crowd that "for freedom to be preserved, people must be willing to sacrifice their lives. This is our time."

Protesters were demanding an end to vaccine mandates for cross-border truckers, as well as the lifting of other pandemic-related public health restrictions.

The on-again-off-again border blockade continued for more than a week after that speech.

It lasted until Tuesday, after RCMP made more than a dozen arrests and raided several trailers, seizing weapons, ammunition and body armour.

Past legal woes

Pawlowski has been in trouble with police throughout the pandemic, at times being arrested within days of his release on other charges. 

Last month, Pawlowski and his brother were arrested after a protest outside the health minister's house in Calgary.

They were charged with breaching a judge's order that restrained them from attending any illegal public gathering.

Last May, the brothers were charged with organizing an illegal in-person gathering, inciting or inviting others to attend an illegal gathering, as well as promoting and attending the gathering.

In October, a judge fined the brothers and put them on probation. 


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