Mirror café owner Christopher Scott must pay nearly $31,000 in fines and court costs but will be spared more jail time for disobeying a court order by holding an anti-shutdown rally in May.
Scott was arrested at an anti-lockdown rally he helped organize on May 8. In June, the Whistle Stop Cafe owner was found guilty of violating an injunction prohibiting the protest.
Queen’s Bench Justice Adam Germain sentenced Scott to three days in jail but said it was satisfied by the time he spent behind bars following his arrest. He also sentenced Scott to 18 months probation for his role in organizing and speaking at the rally despite a court injunction prohibiting the gathering that drew hundreds to the parking lot in front of the café.
Scott watched the proceedings through a link with the virtual court system and showed no reaction to the sentencing.
Edmonton Pastor Artur Pawlowski and his brother Dawid Pawlowski were also sentenced by Germain on Wednesday.
Artur was sentenced to three days in jail, satisfied by time served, and fined $23,000 and must pay $4,758 in court costs as well as $15,733 in costs along with his brother Dawid. Artur must also perform 120 hours of community service and is on probation for 18 months.
The three men were also given a script by Germain that they must use when discussing COVID-19 in public or on social media. It acknowledges that their views to do not represent those held by most medical experts, who continue to say the best defence against COVID is wearing masks, physical distancing, avoiding large gatherings and getting vaccinated.
A lawyer for Alberta Health Services had previously asked for 21 days in prison for Artur and Scott and 10 days for Dawid.
Germain said he was reluctant to send them back to jail because it “would perhaps martyr them.”
In sentencing Scott, Germain noted that the café owner had apologized and following his arrest had turned down speaking engagements to continue criticism of public health measures.
Germain said that all three men were “on the wrong side of science. They are also on the wrong side of common sense.”
The judge said they contributed to “this ominous health situation” by defying health rules and public posturing “which encouraged others to doubt the legitimacy of the pandemic and disobey the health orders designed to protect them.”
While he did not want to further jail the men “certainly deterrence is extremely important,” he said, noting organizers of a proposed rodeo abandoned their plans, partly as a result of the legal action taken against others.
“It is an example where order and downstream risk brought about the desired result.”
Supporters of the Pawlowskis and Scott have been raising funds to help them in their legal battles. An appeal for money to help them pay their fines was launched shortly after sentencing.
During the proceedings, a number of people drew Germain’s ire used a chat function on the court system’s WebEx system to comment.
“Our courts will not consider truth, and have fallen,” typed in one person.
“There is no pandemic,” wrote another, with someone else writing, “Shame on you for perpetuating this scam.”
Germain chastised them for the abuse, adding, “I am embarrassed for them and they offend me.”
In August, a legal action filed by Scott’s Calgary lawyer, Chad Williamson, names the province, chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw and Alberta Health Services. It claims health orders that were issued by the province during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic prevented people from gathering for a political purpose and “is unacceptable in a free and democratic liberal society.”
The lawsuit also claims the order violated sections of the Alberta Bill of Rights.