A Calgary pastor has been sentenced to 60 days in jail for his role in protests against COVID-19 public health measures that blocked Alberta’s main border crossing between Canada and the United States for more than two weeks.
But a judge in Lethbridge, Alta., gave Artur Pawlowski 60 days credit for time he had already served.
Judge Gordon Krinke said Monday that Pawlowski was not involved in planning the so-called “Freedom Convoy” and did not play a major role in its appearance at the border blockade.
“Probation would serve no useful purpose as the accused does not believe he has done anything wrong. He is not sorry for the harm he has caused,” Krinke of the Alberta Court of Justice said in his decision.
“Both the Crown and the defense propose a period of imprisonment and I accept that. A period of imprisonment is required to achieve the objectives of denunciation and deterrence.”
In May, Pawlowski was found guilty of mischief and violating a release order for his role in the blockade at the Coutts, Alta., border crossing in early 2022.
The Crown had asked for a sentence of eight to 10 months, while defense lawyers asked for time served.
During the trial, prosecutors said Pawlowski’s impassioned speech to the truckers fanned the flames of the riot and convinced them to stay longer.
“This case is not about freedom of religion or freedom of speech. This case is a simple criminal case,” said prosecutor Steven Johnston.
“All protests have to take place within the rule of law. As an individual, you don’t get to choose which laws to follow.”
Sarah Miller, Pawlowski’s attorney, said her client “had already served a significant sentence.”
More than 200 supporters gathered outside the courthouse in Lethbridge, Alta., with some chanting “hold the line.”