Calgary Police arrest political cleric Artur Pawlowski on Saturday for defying public health orders (Photo: Screenshot of Youtube video).

Did the members of United Conservative Party Caucus all accidentally leave their earplugs in the Legislature Building in their hurry to get out of Dodge when Premier Jason Kenney ordered them home for an extended COVID break a week ago? 

With police finally showing signs of cracking down on open defiance of public health orders during the deadliest epidemic in Alberta in a century, you have to wonder how else the Kenney Government found out a majority of Albertans were not happy about what determined COVID-19 super-spreaders were getting away with, encouraged by ideological enablers in the UCP Caucus.

Moments later they collar his brother, Dawid Pawlowski (Photo: Screenshot of Youtube video).

It’s possible the Kenney Conservatives have polling results that quantify what Albertans really think about the dangerous anti-social behaviour of a quarter of the UCP Caucus, those openly opposing restrictions on the spread of the coronavirus. 

Or it could be a matter of cluing into a less formal kind of polling – the number of callers to constituency offices furious at the government for not doing enough about COVID-19 compared with the number who are outraged because they still think COVID is just “an influenza,” as Mr. Kenney himself once put it, and we should all be allowed to get back to whatever we feel like doing.

Alternative theories about this are circulating on the Internet as well, of course. One is that Mr. Kenney is still reluctant to see COVID-19 restrictions enforced, but police are stepping up enforcement to defy him for appearing to blame their advice for his government’s lackadaisical approach to enforcement. 

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

Whatever prompted it, in the past couple of days we have been treated to video of Calgary Police arresting the Pawlowski brothers, Artur and Dawid, for organizing an illegal in-person gathering at their highly politicized church in Calgary, and Mounties in Central Alberta shutting down a greasy spoon café, arresting its owner for defying COVID restrictions and ticketing members of the small crowd that showed up to protest. 

The latest arrests may not seem like much, but whatever the explanation they represent something of a sea change for the Kenney Government and police, who hitherto benignly neglected such activities if they bothered to respond at all. 

They were the first aggressive actions against serial defiance of public health orders since police and officials reluctantly fenced off GraceLife Church just outside Edmonton on April 7, prompting a huge brouhaha on right-wing media in the United States and among its imitators in Canada.

Naturally, many concerned Albertans attributed the serial defiance of the rules to the fact Mr. Kenney has nurtured Alberta’s conspiracy-minded far right fringe since 2017 when he made the switch to provincial politics and saw a need to outflank Wild Rose Party leader Brian Jean on the right. But based on what he saw from his comfortable federal perch in Ottawa, he seems to have missed that Albertans aren’t exactly the monolithic far-right block the province’s federal electoral results suggest.

Rebel UCP MLA Drew Barnes (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Still, Mr. Kenney did seem to experience a Road-to-Damascus moment about the need for coronavirus restrictions during the pandemic’s increasingly ugly third wave – especially after it became apparent Alberta had the worst collective case of COVID-19 in North America, with infection rates higher than those found in some Third World countries.

How long the premier sticks with this, or whether it’s just another wild Jason Kenney flip-flop accompanied by his characteristic belligerent insistence he has in fact been completely consistent all along, remains to be seen.

It would not be out of character for the premier to talk tough while his government fails to do much more enforcement or quietly drops charges before hurrying back to another premature reopening and into a potential fourth wave. 

For now, Mr. Kenney’s foes on the Alberta right’s lunatic fringe are lumping him in with their other favourite imagined villains, such as Justin Trudeau and Bill Gates, for his apparent change of heart.

Chatter on the Internet also suggested the COVID-18 – as the members of the UCP’s large COVID-19 Denial Caucus are coming to be known – have fallen silent.

This seems premature, though. After all, rebel UCP MLA Drew Barnes, putative leader of the COVID-18, was on national television yesterday insisting to the CBC’s Rosemary Barton that Alberta will suffer grave damage if private gyms aren’t allowed to reopen immediately and smirkingly refusing to say whether or not he’s been vaccinated.

Having let the genie out of the bottle, it will take Alberta more than a couple of high-profile arrests to put it back in. 

Join the Conversation


  1. You have no concept of human freedom or the people who have given their lives so you can write off our liberties. You bongo in communist China. Freedom is more precious than our lives,perhaps you would rather your children be slaves-fear not,we are well on our way toward that goal. The virus is real, the pandemic a hoax. 99%+survival for almost everyone except the severely I’ll and morbidly obese. The laughable concept of a cloth mask protecting anyone from a virus. The inflated cases vis PCR test cycle threshold manipulation, the inflated death count via direct payments for deaths classified as covid. Not only are you an idiot but you worship your slave masters. Fucking simple minded NPC, make sure you get every experimental vaccine.

    1. NOTE TO READERS: Comments on this blog are moderated by the author. Normally, profane comments like this one are either spiked or edited, and abusive commentary is deleted. I have made an exception in this case because this comment is typical of the material turning up in health care and political general inquiry email inboxes, and the commentary left in telephone voicemail of health care workers and the organizations they work for or support. While unpleasant, it is thankfully short and not particularly threatening, so I will let it stand, F-word and all. Needless to say, it is not a particularly useful contribution to the conversation. As I said in the article, Mr. Kenney let this genie out of the bottle, and by so doing he has attracted some of the worst people imaginable to Alberta. It will be tough to put it back in the bottle, but it will have to be done. DJC

      1. I watched the Blue Jays game in Houston, Texas yesterday . Big crowd in attendance with most not wearing a mask. It will be interesting to see if there is a surge in covid cases following that. The person who wrote that comment was right about the flawed PCR test producing 90% false positives.

        I am wearing a mask as required and not taking any chances.

      2. We know your comment board is moderated simply because it doesn’t usually feature reactionary tripe like the example given above. Stuff’s everywhere, these days (I finally gave up on the G&M after complaining about racist commentary on its comment board —usually to do with Aboriginal news—and, finally, with enough frustration to pull the pin). I suppose one grows a tough skin and blows over and blows off these kinds of assaults—likely even worse ones (we often hear of worse—even death threats, for heaven’s sake!) Anyway, thank you for mediating so we don’t have to.

        But perhaps one day you might do a piece on how Alberta’s Covid experience has affected what might be considered a ‘normal’ amount of vitriolic commentary. Are there unique Covid features or is it all about the same bad-talk.

        One thing that interests me is the proportion of any given set of topical vitriol that appears to be coordinated—particularly when something like “Fake News” or “Antifa” or, possibly, even “Bigfoot” suddenly becomes widespread rhetoric and bears contextual similarities that suggest the commenter is repeating rote gotten from some central source. Is it just individuals picking up on a fad, or is it indeed a distributed script of talking (barking points)? Much of it seems to be about mutual signalling of dubious virtue, as it looks to most people.

        You probably consider this crap a distraction you didn’t have to deal with. But is there anything of intrinsic interest to the phenomenon for any researcher so inclined? Is it useful in any way, perhaps preventatively? Is any of it sufficiently disconcerting to report to authorities. Is there anything they do about it, anyhow?

        Thnx again.

      3. Since the blogger allowed this “getting it off your chest” rant, as confusing as it may be, the least Ike could do in return would be to donate to

      4. I take it that that F-word is the one known as freedom?

        Never before have I ever been more determined and hopeful to see all freedoms quashed forever.

        Idiots with freedom make bigger and more dangerous idiots.

      5. This is nothing!! You should see the RWNJ’s we catch in our net, talk about wow!
        This is a problem of Jason Kenney’s own making and aside from the pandemic the politics on his electability and that of a conservative future in the province are looking dim, IMO.
        The silver lining.

        1. Richard: I agree and understand. I see a lot of things that are sent to organizations with which I am involved. This item was just bad enough to help me make a point, and not so bad that it couldn’t be posted in public. Every cloud has a silver lining. DJC

    2. Next time you hear someone asking rhetorically why they should be taxed to pay for the education of somebody else’s children, you can show them this post and ask if they want elections being decided by people with this level of cognitive ability.

      1. Well put. Ike’s comment really is proof the new Alberta curriculum needs to emphasize critical thinking.

    3. Group bongos, etc. will be the cat’s pyjamas very soon in the UK.

      I’m not sure why bongos are so important to you, Mouser. But anyways, hard lockdowns combined with vaccinations made it possible for the Brits to have freedom, and resume life as we knew it.

      The British bulldog Trumps your Mouser.

    4. Quite the comment there Ike. What do you know about sacrificing for freedom? What liberties have you lost? You bring communist China into the discussion when dissension like yours’ would entail a permanent disappearing act there. 4000 people a day dying in India, 3000 a day dead in Brazil and that’s under reported. Over 3,000,000 dead in the world, again seriously under counted, in just over a year. The pandemic is a hoax, says who? You? It’s to bad the virus didn’t just pick off the anti vaxers and the anti maskers but it doesn’t.Have you ever been sick Ike? Ever get a cold or the flu?Measles? How do you think you caught those viruses? From other people that’s how. But you knew that didn’t you?

    5. This comment strikes me as a bot-produced mess. It has all the earmarks – using words and grammar properly and improperly, using keywords like freedom and slaves, forgetting spaces and then inserting them to appear human-generated, the insertion of specific memes that aren’t true, like “direct payments for deaths classified as covid” and even “You bongo in communist China” appears to be a generated comment. Of course, since we’ve gotten so practised at having computers generate realistic sounding conversations, there’s no way to be sure unless someone credibly confesses.

      Regardless, Ike, you haven’t learned any of the lessons. Why stop at 99%? If you’re going to discount the people who died by designating them as the severely I’ll (sic) and morbidly obese, why not go all the way and just say something like “no one has died from the corona virus, and the people who did die were going to die anyway.” Thank goodness we only have to worry about the mortality rate and not the complications, that would add a whole other reason to try to control the spread of the “real” virus. Cloth masks protecting people is obviously laughable once you remove the data from cloth masks used during the 20th century, where they showed their effectiveness in hospitals. You certainly couldn’t call it a pandemic since it’s confined to one area (the Earth…).

      Of course I could go on, but one last point needs to be made. I cannot help but wonder what the titular “people who have given their lives” would think of someone using their sacrifice as a justification to risk the lives of other people just to own the libs. I highly doubt that they would think that you’re respecting their sacrifice. Before you use words like ‘freedom’ and ‘liberties’ you should become aware of what they mean.

  2. Yeah, Mr. Kenney has his problems and perhaps how he has handled them lately has not helped – lurching from saying stricter rules can’t be enforced to stricter rules and then to enforcement. He might not be the swiftest lately, but I suspect even he has figured out the COVID 18 are not helping him any politically.

    So, I suppose the only alternative left was for him to clampdown and read them the riot act. Perhaps it had some effect on those UCP MLA’s that like their cozy positions. However I suspect Mr. Barnes doesn’t care and is goading Kenney to boot him out. This is probably fine with Kenney ias long as he can be confident no one else will leave with Barnes.

    So, no consistency at all – from libertarian to clampdown in no time at all. Our Mr. Kenney is rather opportunistic and I suspect only really cares about his own political career and survival. I suspect even the Wildrosers have figured this out by now.

    1. Thanks for the link, !?. I was curious to see who the 19 MLA was, wondering who in the NDP didn’t answer. I forgot about ex-MLA Pat Rehn.

  3. I watched Barton’s interview of Drew Barnes.

    Mr. Barnes embarrassed himself. And he embarrassed Albertans. He either had no answer and/or refused to answer several questions. He looked rather silly.

  4. The question is whether or not the UCP through AHS will see fit to pay the legal expenses of everyone who has been arrested for Covid violations once restrictions are eased again in the future. It happened before.

    It seemed to encourage more of this rule-breaking behavior. Maybe the violators are counting on it to happen again, and maybe it will.

    One thing we can be sure of: the UCP only acts out of political expediency. There is no such thing as the greater good, or doing what’s right. There is only doing what will garner votes and donations. That is all.

  5. A further thought: for one who seems to love all things British, including Winston Churchill, it must be a narcissistic wound to see Alberta portrayed as the lunatic fringe of Covid denialism in the western world by British media.

    I can’t imagine the Real Canadian Superstore was any too pleased to be chosen for an anti-mask protest, either. Calgary sent several police officers to the scene, and no protestors showed up. Thus there was nary a YouTube video of any officers shaking hands on private property with lawbreakers.

    There are influential outside eyes looking in now, and Alberta’s leader has been shamed and humiliated into taking action. It’s one thing to throw small/local business to the winds of fate, and quite another to do the same to big business. How can Alberta be open for business, if businesses have to shut down due to anti-mask protests? Food for thought.

  6. Instead of showing a modicum ( that means a little bit) of leadership Kenney and Ford have spent the last year saying look over there, look over here it’s those nasty immigrants that are bringing in Covid or it’s the Federal government and Justin’s fault. Both Kenney and Ford are totally incompetent and have no business being in leadership positions. Both have responded to this crisis with dithering and an inability to make decisions based on scientific information. They have both put money before people’s lives. It’s a tragedy and unforgivable because more Canadians are dead than there every should have been.

  7. The police who effected these arrests put themselves in harm’s way and were subjected to continued possible danger after the initial apprehensions. Neither brother wore a mask, and at least one of them continued to yell at and verbally abuse police personnel and consequently increased the risk of droplet transmission. Both refused to walk to police vehicles forcing the police to lift and carry them [is that resisting arrest?]. One bent his knees with the intention of keeping both feet above ground. These actions very clearly put the police at risk for sustaining injuries such as ligament, tendon, and muscle tears and for possible long term back issues.
    During these stressful times the loss of availability of just one public servant because of injury or of infection by a deadly virus affects us all.

  8. Too little, too late.
    Plus, the actual problem will be impossible to get to until all the mistakes made have been cleared. This is only one of the problems of having ignorant and inexperienced people making decisions; all the time and energy that goes into the wrong decision or a bad decision is lost AND time and energy is required to resolve issues caused by that decision. Then and only then, you get to start on a proper and correct decision.

    Speaking of ignorance, the belligerent nutjob on the leadin comment is typical of the conservative base and this is what conservatives across the Continent are pandering to. These people are breath-takingly ignorant of almost every aspect of life in the 21rst Century and at the same time belligerently confident that they, only they, know what’s going on and what to do about it.
    Their profound inability to comprehend even the most basic realities means that any aspirant to conservative leadership has to turn away from reality and squeeze out, really really squeeze out some nonsense that is already believed and accepted by these nutbars.
    They are to be avoided and any who support them should be avoided and isolated. They suffer from a cognitive illness. If we survive their onslaught, in time we will see that they should isolated and treated before they are free to roam in public.

  9. Arresting serial offenders like the Palowski Brothers just proves how reluctant the police have been to really enforce the restrictions. It’s been how many violations for these two already? Of course, Rebelmedia has been buzzing over this arrest, equating it to the arrest of Anne Frank. When it comes to hyperbole, Ezra has few equals.

    But no one should take this as a indication that the restrictions are now going to be enforced; rather, there will be little to no enforcement because who really wants to do the enforcement?

    Premier Crying & Screaming Midget has declared that he doesn’t and never has taken the pandemic seriously. If anything, his over-inflated but weak efforts prove he doesn’t want to risk his base for the sake of his Captain Canada image, and this is a dangerous mindset to have in governance.

    Making things worse, Drew Barnes has declared that there is no evidence that there is proof of a virus called COVID 19 and wants the Premier to produce any evidence that it does exist. Kenney is noticeably silent on this provocation, because of his base.

    I recall reading something the other day about Kenney meeting with his caucus and saying he needs another voter base, because his current one is just plain nuts. I believe it was from the Beaverton, which proves everything is satire now.

  10. As mentioned above, it might be too soon to tell if these arrests are mere tokenism or a real warning of increasing stricture—the kind that would seem prudent in Alberta’s superlative Covid situation. Whatever it is, it doesn’t betray the ‘distinct society’ the UCP insists it must defend. But it does look like a critical juncture: whatever happens next will tell if the UCP government is the wagon laager bristling with musket barrels or a cornered, rabid skunk.

    I’ve likened the pseudoCon or neo-right decline to the American Redoubt movement. A redoubt is a place to retreat to, remote, difficult terrain that’s easily defended by an inferior force in order it recuperate, presumably to return and wreak revenge, one day, on its perceived enemy for depriving it of an heroic past (often that never really existed except in customized myth). Today’s most well-known Redoubt includes the US states of Idaho, Montana, and adjacent parts of Washington, Oregon, and Wyoming (or maybe Israel or Syria on a bad day). The American Redoubt’s ideal is to defend white Christian reactionaries in an exclusive enclave of religious and racial purity, and politically Republican (or maybe Trumpublican—too soon to tell).

    The implied recuperative-cum-vengeful aspect is evident in that the movement is not overtly separatist like the Confederate States of America was but, rather, with a bit of constitutional redaction, a would-be ethnic homeland for self-styled supremacists socially distinct from the rest of the Union. So deluded, it’s not surprising that, in order to remain self-cast victims of alleged injustice, it postures preposterously and lobs threats and insults with all the foreboding of North Korea. It has an historical model: the state of Deseret aspired to by Mormon refugees escaping mainstream Christian persecution in Missouri Territory in the 1840s. When its rump, Utah Territory, confederated in1890, Fundamentalists retreated to what became southwestern Alberta, fifteen years before it confederated to Canada, seeking refuge from terms of union with the American federation in which polygamy was illegal.

    ( Redoubters are Tory in the etymological sense—and only in the present circumstance of rag-tag retreat from a failed insurrection, pursued by the feds hot on their scattered social media trails even though they were invited to smash their way into the Capitol by the presidunce himself. At least one can agree they’re beset by troubles, if not exactly victims of the Deep State. For almost four years they cheered the division of the country into Red [GOP] and Blue [Democrat] States, and for one, brief, phrenetic afternoon, thought they could ‘take back’ the whole United States of America because they believed Trump represented the majority and thought about a thousand belligerents was enough to topple history’s most powerful nation.)

    The parallels with Alberta are apparent. It is remote high prairie against foothills and mountains, land of rugged cowboys, roughnecks, and Wexiteer-libertarians who act like they’d be just fine if nannystate socialists left the jurisdiction for good, as if wrecking the provincial public enterprise and partitioning the federation would be salutary. Assured that nobody but the righteous can hear their argot whenever they cover their ears to messages they don’t like—climate change and other kinds of pandemics, for example—they rather adopt a Lone Star mythos from somewhere south of the Jackie Mason Line, ignoring their homegrown history of Métis seeking a Western redoubt after the Red River and Northwest Rebellions, perhaps a distaste for ‘mixed-bloods’ more in keeping with the proudly white complexion of neighbouring American Redoubters and LDS Fundamentalists who’d arrived in the future Alberta just five years after Riel had been hung and his Métis followers scattered over remote parkland and forested plain to the north.

    The facts that Utah became a US state, despite many fundamental differences with the rest of America, and that Métis communities survived a century until securing constitutional rights in Canada are proofs that redoubts are at least defensible bases in which to preserve and develop cultures, if not necessarily vantages for vengeful return. The distinction from painting oneself into corner is that a corner isn’t as defensible as a carefully picked redoubt which should, if needs, provide for further retreat into even more difficult terrain where pursuers are easily waylaid and can’t easily concentrate force. In a corner, pursuit and the opportunity for surprise are over and done. With apology to skunks (reputed to be peaceable creatures who make affectionate captives), the only strategy in extremis of a corner, regardless how one got there, is to make a coup de grace appear too costly —and pray for delivery from evil. The mien of skunk thus comes in handy, the more rabid the better (that is, no coming to terms like a pampered, de-scented life of vaccinated slavery on the couch, eating the master’s kibbles). Whether by instinct or coordination anti-masker/anti-vaxer outlaws adopt the cornered, rabid skunk appearance is sometimes hard to tell (remember, we can’t hear them communicate when they have their ears covered), but the smell is, naturally, a warning the rest of us instinctively recognize. Unless one likes tomato juice baths, it’s best to stay at a safe distance.

    Kenney has painted himself into a corner. The base he ginned into believing Covid was a hoax has got him cornered one way, Covid—the real thing—has him the other way. By definition, the position doesn’t allow for many degrees of freedom. If the Crown Prosecutor drops charges on the ‘pastor’ brothers and handful of courtroom-swamping ticket holders, another dog will whistle a paean of triumph and repeated assaults against all pandemic advice. That means the next stupid anti-mask/anti-vax protest will have to be punished more harshly than K-Boy appears inclined to mete out.

    That’s not a redoubt—nor much of a wagon laager. That’s a rabid skunk cornered. It is indefensible. And all citizens can do is stay back at safe distance and watch what he does next—and, since Covid doesn’t ever rest, he surely will have to do something.

  11. I am glad that they are finally cracking down on people like this because we don’t want these people to influence anyone else. Kenney could also look at the rules that allow stores like Walmart to operate as an essential business because they sell food and pharmaceutical drugs among the other products they sell. We do need a different direction and even though I doubt the effectiveness of a get to Zero strategy, it is clear that the current one is not working.

  12. I think it’s too late to change things now, because the UCP have messed this up so badly. The UCP can’t do anything that is proper.

  13. Hey Albertans, are you tired of this yet? I guess not.

    We are being abused by our own premier. We can let him abuse us for another 2 years or we can force him out. How you ask? Only a general strike can push him out sooner than the next election.

    Your choice.

    As for myself, I’m losing patience with all the whiners. Do something about it, or as they say, “fish or cut bait.”

  14. Interesting article, now what is your opinion on The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

    Here they are again just incase you have forgot!

    Fundamental Freedoms
    Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

    (a) freedom of conscience and religion;

    (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;

    (c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and

    (d) freedom of association

    From what I can see in your article (Fundamental Freedom (b) makes this possible)
    – “police finally showing signs of cracking down on open defiance”
    – “COVID-19 super-spreaders were getting away with”
    – “ticketing members of the small crowd that showed up to protest”
    – “aggressive actions against serial defiance of public health orders”
    – “Alberta’s conspiracy-minded far-right fringe”

    Your negative and condescending demeanour just ads more fire to an already stressful situation and your dismissive attitude towards small businesses having to close, “Alberta will suffer grave damage if private gyms aren’t allowed to re-open immediately” only shows that you are completely out of touch with what is happening with all small businesses.

    Berating people who believe in Fundamental Freedoms and calling them anti-vaxxers or COVID-19 super-spreaders because they choose to wait and see the results of a “voluntary” vaccine is the type of bulling that we are trying to stop our adolescent children from doing.

    Your disgusting use of a tremendously stressful situation to cause further divide between people for the sole reason to solicit donations is the true crime but I guess your Fundamental Freedom (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication; will keep you safe!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.