LETHBRIDGE, Alta. — 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 Canada-U.S. border crossing for more than two weeks.
But a judge in Lethbridge, Alta., gave Artur Pawlowski 60 days' credit for time already served.
Justice Gordon Krinke said Monday that Pawlowski was not involved in the planning of the so-called "Freedom Convoy" and didn't play a major role with his appearance at the border blockade.
"Probation would serve no useful purpose as the accused does not believe he did anything wrong. He is not remorseful for the harm he has caused," Krinke, with the Alberta Court of Justice, said in his decision.
"Both the Crown and the defence are proposing a period of incarceration and I accept that. A period of incarceration is required in order to achieve the objectives of denunciation and deterrence."
In May, Pawlowski was found guilty of mischief and breaching a release order for his role in the blockade at the Coutts, Alta., border crossing in early 2022.
The Crown had sought a sentence of eight to 10 months, while defence lawyers were asking for time served.
During the trial, prosecutors said Pawlowski's impassioned speech to truckers fanned the flames of unrest and convinced them to stay longer.
"This case is not about freedom of religion and it is not about free speech. This case is a straightforward criminal case," said prosecutor Steven Johnston.
"All protests have to take place within the rule of law. As a person you don't get to choose what laws you follow."
Sarah Miller, Pawlowski's lawyer, 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."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Sept. 18, 2023.
Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press