The convoy blockade north of the Coutts border crossing in 2022 (Photo: Jake Zacharias; Twitter/Glen Motz).

Possible unpopular opinion: Far-right street preacher Artur Pawlowski will have done us all a favour if he manages to get all or part of Jason Kenney’s odious Critical Infrastructure Defence Act tossed out by a court on constitutional grounds.

Radical street pastor Artur Pawlowski, found guilty of two changes yesterday, continues to embarrass Alberta Premier Danielle Smith (Photo: Screenshot of Twitter video).

OK, no one’s going to name a school or a bridge after the guy. But still, it would certainly be worthy of a “good on ya, buddy” moment. 

The problem faced by Mr. Pawlowski is more complicated than that, of course. 

For one thing, the man Premier Danielle Smith told in her notorious January phone chat that she was making calls “almost weekly” to get off the hook faced three charges stemming from his activities during the imbroglio at the Coutts border crossing in February 2022. 

Yesterday in Lethbridge, Justice Gordon Krinke found Mr. Pawlowski guilty of the other two – violating his release conditions and “mischief” as defined by the Criminal Code of Canada when he tried to persuade blockaders to keep on breaking the law during a fiery speech at the blockade site just north of Coutts. 

However, Justice Krinke said he wasn’t going to rule on the Critical Infrastructure Defence Act charge of willfully damaging or destroying infrastructure just yet because Mr. Pawlowski’s lawyers say they plan to challenge the constitutionality of former premier Kenney’s signature 2020 legislation. 

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith – last year she thought the Coutts blockade was “beautiful,” now not so much, probably (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

According to the CBC’s story, the judge said in his ruling – which has been awaited breathlessly by tout le monde political Alberta – a verdict on that charge “would have to wait until the defence’s constitutional challenge of CIDA has been dealt with.”

I suppose you could say this state of affairs is a bad news/good news story for Premier Smith – although it seems to me it’s mostly bad. 

On the plus side, from her perspective, she can continue pretending she can’t comment on a matter that’s still before the courts – although there are lots of questions about her conversation with Mr. Pawlowski that she could quite properly respond to if she wished. 

The minuses are more serious, though. Everybody has now been reminded, again, that she appeared in the recording of her conversation with the street preacher to be indicating she had interfered with the administration of justice to get his charges dropped, and that she would continue to do so. 

From a common-sense perspective, her insistence she never approached a prosecutor about Mr. Pawlowski’s case doesn’t make much difference when she was speaking all the time to the Justice minister and deputy minister about the same file. 

What’s more, now that we are in the midst of the official election period, Justice Krinke’s verdict also reminds us all that the premier who won’t speak to media has time to chat on the phone with political allies facing criminal charges if only to commiserate with them. In the normal course of events, this is simply not done.

Worse from Ms. Smith’s perspective, according to The Canadian Press, Mr. Pawlowski says he’ll tell “his side of the story” next week.

Mind you, Ms. Smith hardly needs Mr. Pawlowski to remain immersed in hot water. Indeed, in a 2022 video clip made by a right-wing publication and revived yesterday by Press Progress, Ms. Smith can be heard enthusiastically endorsing the Ottawa occupation and “beautiful” Coutts border blockade at about the same time Mr. Kenney’s government was pleading for its end.

Still, the irony of Mr. Pawlowski’s legal situation is palpable. As is well understood, the act was pushed by Mr. Kenney to deal with groups he and his party viewed as enemies, not their friends. The targets of the legislation were First Nations blockaders, environmental groups’ dramatic protest stunts, and trade unionists’ legal picket lines.

“The statute was widely seen as the Alberta government’s response to Indigenous-led blockades that sprung up across the country that year in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs fighting the Coastal Gaslink Pipeline,” the Canadian Civil Liberties Association said in an explainer in 2022.

The Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre argued the act interferes with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms’ freedom of association provisions, trespasses on federal criminal jurisdiction, tramples the right to be considered innocent until proved guilty, and ignores aboriginal rights, among other flaws.

So, yes, Mr. Kenney blessed us with a real trashy piece of legislation when his United Conservative Party MLAs rushed to pass the Critical Infrastructure Defence Act.

And sooner or later, if it’s not repealed first, it seems likely it will fall, in whole or in part. 

But it would be satisfactorily ironic if it began to crumble thanks to the efforts of one of the UCP’s former allies, even if the extremist pastor is now sufficiently disillusioned with the efforts of Ms. Smith on his behalf to abuse her in terms similar to the way he talks about NDP leader Rachel Notley.

NOTE: While not stating this explicitly, the CBC story cited above contains a strong hint the broadcaster is not about to pay any attention to the premier’s threatened defamation suit for its original coverage of Ms. Smith’s phone conversation with Mr. Pawlowski. Indeed, the message at the bottom of the story seems to be, “fool around and find out.”  Or words to that effect.

Join the Conversation


  1. It could be that Artur Pawlowski’s miscalculation was dealing with the monkey instead of dealing with the organ grinder.

    Perhaps he should have been dealing with TBA head David Parker instead of Danielle Smith.
    After all, Parker appears to be the real ‘power behind the throne’.

  2. It’s very scary to see these miscreants being able to have this much power. If they are given an inch, they will take a mile. They can do a lot of damage. The smart thing to do is to make sure the UCP get defeated in the next provincial election.

    1. As Maxwell Smart once put it: Chief, if you give ‘em an inch, they think they’re a ruler.

  3. I also think that some good may come out of this, if in the process a draconian law, poorly crafted with over reach, is over turned.

    Of course if a true libertarian, not just someone who talks about being one sometimes, had been in charge of Alberts for the last six months or so, this law would have been discarded some time ago.

    Of course the pastor is disappointed with Smith, history has already well shown how she disappoints her supporters. I strongly feel it will happen again. The only question is how long it will take and how it will happen. I believe her inconsistency and facile rationalizations will eventually get the best of her yet again.

  4. More machinations than…well, a machine! This is a telenovela waiting to be written.

    What does the Artful Dodger have up his sleeve now? First, he’ll topple CIDA. In theory, children drawing in chalk on a public sidewalk could be tossed in the slammer with that one. Kenney’s legacy starts to crumble.

    But back to the aforementioned dirt that is about to fly. Is it more videos? Will it topple the current regime? Not forgetting that others have been charged with mischief in relation to the Coutts blockade, including one executive member of the Southern Alberta farmer group, Take Back Alberta. Will the premier resurface by then? Will the Coutts element of TBA put words in her mouth? Stay tuned for next week’s episode.

  5. Hello DJC,
    As you say, “Ms. Smith hardly needs Mr. Pawlowski to remain immersed in hot water.” Unfortunately, it appears that dyed in the wool conservatives don’t care. The word “conservative” in the name of the UCP automatically signifies fiscal responsibility, and it is unnecessary to look at either the party’s fiscal policies or actual spending.
    One view I have heard is that it is Ms Smith’s statements that might diminish the party’s chances of election success. There is no actual problem with Smith’s viewpoints or actions. I think that this approach is all too common, and no amount of rationality on the part of Rachel Notley will dispel these notions. The NDP is, in this view, automatically lacking in fiscal responsibility, no matter that NDP policies and spending are largely for the benefit of everyone.

  6. Thanks for another informative column, David, and thanks for posting the link to the Western Standard video.

    Danielle Smith did say something in the video that I whole heartedly agree with, when she said ‘I have no idea’. Too bad that little detail didn’t stop her from forming a forcefully expressed opinion.

    1. That little quip stuck out for me too. It signifies—perhaps better than anything else—that her arbitrariness-in-service-to-ambiguity is attracted to shiny things of which she has “no idea” their relevance or integrity to the world around her. Nothing more condemns her as a Christy Clark-like poster girl for her puppet masters.

      They aren’t necessarily more cogent, just more reticent to fully articulate their full secessionist agenda. But, just like her, they “have no idea” —at least workable ones—of what to do with independence, even if they knew how to get it.

  7. I just saw on the tv program The Morning Show that Canadians are nine times more likely to accept scams than Americans are and I bet Albertans are a lot worse than that, especially our fellow seniors. The stupid things they have fallen for is unbelievable. As a former bank manager I have seen it all and so have the police officers involved. Danielle Smith seems to be targeting them with her lies, and she is winning the battle by what they are saying. A guy in the Calgary Herald said it’s sad how she is being attacked. It’s no surprise to me that this guy is an idiot senior.

  8. I suspect that the good preacher has a bee in his bonnet or Danielle Smith not being able to pardon him. Legally, that is, which is something that Smith was going on and on about having within her powers. And if that wouldn’t work, call the prosecutors and give them a piece of her mind … if Smith can spare it.

    Now, preacher has another card to play: go full-blabber mouth tell all kinds of truths and half-truths about what went down. Smith and the UCP have been hard selling to the FreeDUMB crowd, but this make them appear to have feet of clay.

    Mo popcorn.

  9. Well, the vipers are fanging each other again. First Smith, now Kenney (in retrospect, but hey, I’ll take it) are getting snake-bit by that perennial pain and radical-right street preacher, Artur Pawlowski.

    So ol’ Art is feeling picked on, is he? The judge “made an example” of him, and now Art’s whining about it. Well, he’s right, but not in the way he prefers to believe. People who encourage others to break—in this case continue to break—laws should be called out. Do it in violation of a previous judgement, and hey, guess what? Judges don’t like that. Pawlowski’s gonna be lucky if he avoids jail time.

    As for CIDA, it’s poetic justice that Kenney’s bad law will (I hope) be struck down on behalf of a radical-right (ex-) supporter of the Republican-wannabe premier. It’d be nice if Pawlowski and his fellow revolutionary-adjacent yahoos were jailed for all this, but that might be too much to ask. For sure, it’ll happen way too slowly for any of them to get the message (“You were wrong,” for those who’re wondering).

    Oh, and that defamation suit? We all knew Danielle Smith’s legal team, but probably not Smith herself, was not stupid enough to try their luck. Only an idiot would try to prove in court that HER OWN WORDS, when quoted by someone else, become defamatory.

  10. In his treatise on totalitarianism, one of the primary rules is “Do not volunteer in advance.” Timothy Snider points to The Leader aquiring power(s) because a sizable percentage of the population prepares the path forward.
    The Tea Party was not a grass roots organisation.

  11. I love how many people on this blog think of conservatives as a monolith of class, economic and religious consciousness. There is no chance of beating your opponent if you know next to nothing about them, too many folks on this blog are too comfortable commenting about “conservatives” even though they’re no less a monolith than the supposed left in this country. It’s so amateurish & disdainful.

    Anecdotes are only that but in my extensive experience of not only living in this province but following its politics, most people DONT VOTE, if they do, they vote how they feel their peers are inclined, no one likes being on the outs, especially in a small community. Maybe instead of whining about how there’s no such thing as a reformer or a conservative folks could try talking like normal people with this uneducated, uninterested majority. Doesn’t give one the benefit of looking down ones nose at ones neighbours, but it might actually make a difference.
    People might not have a stake in drag shows or understand the health care system or economics or anything else the UCP is lighting their hair on fire about but it’s pretty easy to get most working class folks to understand their material conditions; hence the popular washroom rhyme, “they get a dollar I get a dime so I do my business on company time”

    1. Workers of the world, unite! Does not have a qualifying statement for workers you don’t personally like.

  12. A few* years back , an acquaintance who worked around the world, had some interesting experiences in Africa, and one thing lead to another thinking about the ‘Lion Princess ‘ and the video library/ missing episodes. How many episodes are there??

    http:// www.
    ” Answering questions from journalists after reading
    a communique by opposition political parties at Courtyard Hotel yesterday, Mr Kambiba regretted being faulty during his
    reign as Justice Min and Sec General of the PF.

    ” I made mistakes when I was in the PF government, but that does not mean that I cannot have the opportunity to repent and become a good leader. I have repented. I could have been a bad leader when I was in government .I am not perfect and I am faulty like any other human being” , Mr Kambiba said.

    And so the saga continues, will we get another episode, or will the striking writers put an end to the show, hmmm ??

    PS…do Albertan’s need to raise their voices for better internet services in remote cities and towns like Red Deer? asking for a friend ?

  13. Judging by the good preacher’s conversation with Ezra Levant, one could think that Danielle Smith is about to go the way of Jason Kenney in the eyes of the Rebelmedia cohort. Danielle Smith doesn’t believe in freeDUMB because … the good preacher was convicted of defending FreeDUMB. So now he’s founding a true FreeDUMB movement that will … sure sure.

    And at a recent newser, Smith announced another program to bribe people to lose their senses and come to Alberta. The promised land, you say? Broken promises, for sure.

  14. Another of the many ironies of this entire affair, is the nutters’ invocation of the Charter. If memory serves, the most vocal opponents of enshrining a Charter of Rights and Freedoms in our Constitution were conservatives, as they ran on and on about “Parliamentary superiority” and so on. So now conservatives of a particularly extreme stripe are appealing to the Charter to protect them? Pretty rich.

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.