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The son of pastor Artur Pawlowski could be facing massive fines and jail time after he preached Bible verses outside a drag queen story time held at a public library over the weekend. Nathaniel Pawlowski was detained and ticketed on Saturday by Calgary Police Service (CPS) because they claimed he was preaching too close to the drag event, in an apparent violation of a new and oppressive bylaw.
Pawlowski said that he was outside the event to ’preach, read the Bible and just speak.’ Video of the incident shows Pawlowski along with his friend Deklan Friesen speaking to a crowd outside the library.
Calgary City Council last month passed a new ‘Safe and Inclusive Access Bylaw’ that disallows ‘specified protests’ both inside and outside all city-owned and affiliated public buildings. Mayor Jyoti Gondek put her full support behind the buffer zone bylaw. The bylaw means pastors or concerned parents protesting pro-LGBT events at public buildings are barred from getting within 100 meters of any such location.
Top constitutional lawyer John Carpay recently blasted Calgary City Council for going to war against Canadians’ freedoms by using bylaws to target people’s ability to protest events at public facilities, including drag queen performances directed at children.
In an opinion piece published on March 17 in the Western Standard, Carpay said ‘freedom of expression is meaningless if citizens are only allowed to say what’s approved by the government, or if an expression is banished from public spaces.’ Pawlowski noted that his ticket has no penalty listed yet, as police must ‘review the evidence on me and that they will be stopping by my home to issue charges.’
His ticket does have a mandatory court appearance date. Each charge under Calgary’s bylaw carries a maximum fine of up to $10,000 and up to a year in jail. Pawlowski had asked the police officers if they would also be enforcing ‘the same law on to the other side with the Antifa protesters’, but nobody was served a ticket except for he and Friesen.
In June 2022, Calgary City Council, under its left-leaning Mayor Jyoti Gondek, amended the city’s bylaws to ‘specifically prohibit insulting or demeaning behavior, including unwanted sexual advances, or harassing anyone on the basis of age, race, sexual orientation, disability, gender, gender identity or gender expression, among others.’
In February, Gondek vowed to use the bylaw to go after drag queen story hour protesters after some of the events were postponed by pro-family objectors. In early March, fulfilling her promise, Calgary City Council then passed the bylaw that banned protesting against drag queen story hours or any other ‘LGBTQ’ events held at public facilities.
According to Carpay, Gondek seems to ‘believe it is wrong or false to oppose drag queen story readings in public libraries. She is entitled to express her views, but not to impose her views on others by effectively banning peaceful public protests through a so-called Safe and Inclusive Access bylaw,’ noted Carpay.
There exists a ‘freedom of expression’ which includes the ‘right’ to choose ‘high-visibility locations to hold up signs or banners, sing or chant, hand out literature, gather signatures on a petition, and have a speaker get up on her soapbox,’ continued the lawyer. ‘Protests are often held at the locations where injustices (or perceived injustices) are actually occurring,’ he added.
Christian pastor Derek Reimer was jailed and charged in early March for protesting a children’s drag queen story hour at a public library in Calgary.
Carpay wrote that the city council’s use of coercive power to relegate peaceful protesters to obscure locations where they cannot be seen or heard amounts to crushing a fundamental Charter freedom on which our democracy depends. ‘The point of protests is to be seen and heard,’ wrote Carpay.
‘Potential listeners who have the right to hear diverse points of view, and to decide for themselves what is true and false rather than having Mayor Gondek decide on their behalf,’ said Carpay. ‘Calgary’s ‘Safe and Inclusive Access’ bylaw violates the rights of all Calgarians, speakers and listeners, and attacks diversity of thought and belief.’
Carpay noted that repressive regimes always take great pains to ensure their subjects are kept ‘safe’ from ideas that the regime believes to be wrong or false.
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