Sunday, April 21, 2024
Freedom Convoy Trucks in Ottawa, February 2022. Photo: Donna Laframboise
Guest ContributionsOpinion/ColumnTrucking

Your Canada today: pastors arrested for preaching

by Donna Laframboise

This site is about the Freedom Convoy that traveled to Ottawa from multiple parts of Canada. It’s about the truckers who took part in that journey, and about the three-week protest in Ottawa that followed.

At the same time these events were transpiring, Canadians were gathering in many other communities to express support for the truckers’ cause. Protests took place outside of many provincial legislatures. One also happened at Coutts, near a Canada/US border crossing in Southern Alberta – 3,000 kilometers from Ottawa.

Last year, several witnesses testified under oath that Coutts and Ottawa were separate and distinct protests. There was no coordination, no grand plan. The leaders were different, and they weren’t in contact with each other. The freedom movement was organic. Lots of people, across the country, were concerned about the erosion of our freedoms. Some traveled to the nation’s capital. Other protested closer to home.

While the truckers were in Ottawa, Calgary-based Pastor Art Pawlowski visited the Coutts protest. As a result, last week a judge convicted him of mischief. On Friday, at the Great Canadian Awakening conference held in Whitby, Ontario he told the audience he was offered a deal by the prosecution: “If you repent, if you say you’re sorry, we’ll be easy on you.”

His response?

“I said: ‘Never.’ Never. Never. Not only am I not sorry, I am a super proud Canadian that I was privileged to be part of the truck convoy. I have no better memory. At that moment, I saw the real Canada. I saw people young and old, women and men, with their children. They were bringing their cats and their dogs for freedom. I saw horses…

“You know, it was incredible, incredible. We marched with everyone. I saw people loving each other, feeding each other, praying with each other, singing with each other, crying with each other. This was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen on this soil.

I’m not sorry. The only regret I have is that I didn’t spend more time there. That’s what I do regret. If I knew how soon this will end, I’ll be there every single day.”

He continued:

“On a private property I was asked to come and lift their spirits high, and I went over there. We had supper and we were singing hymns and we were praying with each other, and I did 19 minutes sermon.

“And for that sermon, two days after, I was arrested by anti-terrorists. I felt like El Chapo of Calgary. There was so many cops. More than squirrels in our neighbourhood. They came with cameras. It was detectives, it was uniformed police, it was undercover. It was a gong show.

“I was interrogated for hours and spent 50 days in prison…I was found guilty for inciting mischief…To be here with you, I had to get a written permission from my probation officer.

“I am on house arrest over a year now. A pastor. That simply gave a sermon to a desperate people.”

*****

Donna Laframboise writes a daily blog at  ThankYouTruckers.substack.comIt is a first draft of her upcoming book that focuses on interviews with Freedom Convoy truckers. She is a former National Post and Toronto Star columnist, and a former Vice President of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.