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Alberta

‘Canada has fallen’: Calgary pastor unrepentant at his sentencing for COVID-19 breach

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GRAVELAND — An Alberta pastor who, along with his brother, was found guilty of contempt after deliberately violating COVID-19 health orders has told a judge that he is a political prisoner who is being persecuted by Alberta Health Services.

Artur Pawlowski said during a seven-minute statement at his sentencing hearing on Tuesday that he and his brother, Dawid, have done nothing wrong.

“I am here before this court as a political prisoner of conscience,” he said before Justice Adam Germain. “The AHS and the politicians have found a new way of penalizing anyone that is opposing their unconstitutional medical tyranny. They hate the idea that they have been exposed for what they really are: liars, hypocrites and cheaters,” he said.

“I have heard from my grandparents about similar tactics from the time of the Nazis, persecuting churches and the clergy. Canada has fallen. Sure you can lock us up and throw the key away, but our political imprisonment will shout even louder about the hypocrisy.”

The Pawlowskis, both from Calgary, were arrested in May and accused of organizing an illegal gathering as well as of promoting and attending an illegal gathering. They had been holding church services that flouted rules on masking and physical distancing.

The arrests came after court orders were granted allowing Alberta Health Services and police to charge anyone who advertised gatherings that would breach health restrictions.

At the sentencing hearing Monday, the health provider asked that the pastor be jailed for 21 days and that his brother be sentenced to 10 days. The court is also being asked to fine Artur Pawlowski $2,000 and impose $15,000 in costs.

Sarah Miller, who is representing the Pawlowskis, said there is no need to incarcerate her clients.

“This a civil proceeding that is designed to compel compliance with the court orders and that is exactly what has occurred. As far as general deterrence, they have been deterred. They have spent their time in jail,” she said.

“A fine is more than reasonable to sanction either of the Pawlowskis in this case. There is no need to put them into incarceration.”

Germain said he will release his decision Oct. 13.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 14, 2021.

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Regulator lays charges against Tidewater Midstream for acidic water release

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CALGARY — The Alberta Energy Regulator has laid charges against Tidewater Midstream and Infrastructure Ltd. for a release of acidic water in west-central Alberta.

The regulator says the release occurred in Oct. 2019 at Tidewater’s Ram River sour gas processing plant near Rocky Mountain House. 

It says the acidic water flowed into a nearby creek.

Calgary-based Tidewater has been charged with 10 violations under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, including releasing a substance to the environment that caused or may have caused an adverse effect. 

The regulator also alleges that Tidewater failed to report the release of the acidic water as soon as possible, and failed to take all reasonable measures to repair and remedy the spill.

Tidewater is scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 8 in Rocky Mountain House.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published October 21, 2021.

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Alberta

Alberta's top doctor says COVID-19 cases receding but vigilance needed at Halloween

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EDMONTON — Alberta’s chief medical officer of health says COVID-19 case numbers in the province continue to recede.

But Dr. Deena Hinshaw cautions that the hospital situation remains precarious given the high number of patients.

And she says Albertans can’t afford to let up on health restrictions, particularly with Halloween coming up.

There were 770 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday for a new total of 10,434 active cases.

There were eight more deaths, bringing that total to 3,014.

Alberta Health Services says there are 912 people in hospital with COVID-19, and that 201 of them are in intensive care.

Alberta remains under gathering restrictions for indoor and outdoor events, and Hinshaw says it’s important to stick to those limits at Halloween.

Hinshaw urged those setting out candy for trick or treaters to not use bowls, but to set out the candy spaced apart on a surface like a blanket.

She says those who want to have a Halloween party should consider a small gathering of vaccinated people.

“This is not the year for large Halloween parties,” Hinshaw said.

“If you’re planning a Halloween gathering try to have it outdoors and make sure the limit of no more than 20 people is observed.”

Hinshaw noted that last Oct. 31 there were 5,600 active COVID-19 cases, about half the current total. There were 141 people in hospital with the illness a year ago.

Alberta continues to battle a fourth wave of the pandemic.

It has more than doubled the normal number of 173 critical care beds and has had to cancel thousands of non-urgent surgeries to handle the surge.

Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley says with winter coming and COVID-19 still circulating, the province needs to provide stable funding to social agencies for winter emergency shelters.

“All people deserve to live in dignity and have a safe place to call home,” said Notley. “These calls are urgent. It’s getting cold outside, and our northern winter will be here soon.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 21, 2021.

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