FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 18, 2011
STREET PREACHER’S RIGHTS FIGHT CONTINUES TO THE ALBERTA
COURT OF APPEAL
Homeless Advocate Seeks Final Vindication
Calgary’s street preacher Artur Pawlowski, once again is standing up and clearly stating that he has never intended anything but to exercise his federally guaranteed fundamental freedoms in the process of serving Calgary’s most needy population. In an affidavit filed with the Alberta Court of Appeal, Pawlowski says:
“In an average year, Street Church Ministries will provide approximately 300,000 meals to the people they assist. The rights of freedom of expression and freedom of religion that are before the Court in this appeal are fundamentally important to me as an individual, but they are of incredible significance far beyond the City of Calgary and the specific bylaws at issue.
Using unconventional methods including the use of an amplification system while conducting full church services and preaching a Christian message of love and hope in public spaces in the City has led to significant conflicts involving myself, Street Church Ministries and its volunteers, and City of Calgary elected officials, public servants and police and bylaw enforcement officers.
These conflicts have often been highly publicized in the local and the national media and I have endured years of misinformation and misleading coverage of events involving the City of Calgary. Of particular significance is the continued improper characterization that the only issue between me, Street Church Ministries and the City of Calgary is one of noise. Of the numerous charges that were filed against me in the Provincial Court of Alberta, most had nothing to do whatsoever with noise.”
Pawlowski is asking Alberta’s top court to hear his further appeal relating to bylaw charges issued in April of 2007. "I believe that for the sake of all Canadians’ constitutional rights, I have no choice but to keep defending them. There is no excuse for the treatment we have received. What really have we done? What is our crime? Feeding and clothing the homeless, whilst praying for their hearts, lives and futures, in the process of bringing them the love of Christ and the truth of the gospel, through public church services. Is that really so terrible? I don’t think so, and I know that many Canadians don’t think so either.”
In documents filed with the Court, Pawlowski’s lawyer, Michael Bates, argues that the City of Calgary missed its deadline to properly commence an appeal of the December 7, 2009 trial decision of Judge A. Fradsham:
“…it is abundantly clear that there was no evidence whatsoever before the Court to explain why the Notice of Appeal was not filed until January 5, 2010 when a decision to appeal was made a full two weeks earlier on December 21, 2009. To deny leave to appeal on this jurisdictional issue would be to eradicate 80 years of Alberta jurisprudence. Immeasurable amounts of scarce public resources will be devoted to unjustified extension applications and superior court judges will be made to hear appeals that lack proper jurisdiction.”
Bates also argues that the first appeal judge misunderstood Judge Fradsham’s reasons when he overturned two out of Pawlowski’s five acquittals:
“Hall J. erroneously concluded that the entire analysis of this issue amounted to the trial judge improperly requiring the City to regulate particular levels of noise, rather than employ a “ban on amplification systems in parks.” In fact, there really is not a complete ban on the use of amplification systems in parks in s. 21(e) because it is allowed by permit. Fradsham PCJ found the law to be unconstitutional because the regulatory plan enacted by the City included an undefined and arbitrary permit process.
This is almost the identical finding of Brown PCJ in her conclusion that s. 21(e) violates freedom of expression and cannot be saved by s.1 of the Charter. This finding was not appealed by the City.”
Bates says that he is optimistic that the Court will give permission for these matters to be fully argued.
As for Pawlowski, he continues to be disappointed with the City resources that are being devoted to fight him instead of to help him with the real battle – helping Calgary’s poor and homeless. "We are hoping that the battle waged by the City, which has cost tax payers hundreds of thousands of dollars, will be seen for what it is by our current mayor and City Council, before the matter becomes their own. This is the time for Mayor Nenshi and his Council to stand up and direct the legal department to put down their arms, and to right the wrongs of the past, especially now that the City is about to engage us in yet another costly and, no doubt, lengthy trial over distributing pamphlets asking citizens to vote during the election that put them in power" said Pawlowski.
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