Artur Pawlowski's Media Circus
The Calgary-based hate preacher promised the truth about his well-documented interactions with Danielle Smith less than a week before the Alberta election.
Calgary-based hate preacher, convicted criminal and future failed provincial candidate Artur Pawlowski invited media to a May 24 press conference to reveal the “whole story” of his interactions with UCP leader Danielle Smith. He set a trap for us newshounds, and we took the bait.
What was essentially a campaign event for the Solidarity Movement of Alberta (SMA) attracted all the major media outlets in Edmonton, and then some — Global News, CTV News, CBC News, the Edmonton Journal, Toronto Star, CityNews, The Canadian Press, the Western Standard, AB Today, Alberta Politics, yours truly and I’m sure others I didn’t recognize.
There’s no way most of the press would normally cover a campaign event for a fringe crackpot of Pawlowski’s magnitude, so he used the promise of more information to reel us in less than a week before the election. Sadly well played.
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I went mainly for the entertainment value, which didn’t disappoint.
Pawlowski announced that the press conference would take place on the steps of the Legislature. Assuming someone running for a seat in the Legislature was aware its front steps are closed due to construction, media set up their equipment at the side steps.
Pawlowski’s people, however, told media that the press conference would now occur at the federal building nearby, instructing them to pick up their equipment and go there. Not sure if he was going for a pilgrimage vibe, but that’s definitely how it felt.
Once members of the media began to arrive, Pawlowski changed his mind and decided he would do the presser at the Legislature’s side steps after all. The cartoonish ineptitude had shades of Rudy Giuliani’s Four Seasons Landscaping presser.
Penhold town councillor Shawn Hamm, who started the Remnant Church in Red Deer during the pandemic, opened the presser with a prayer. “Thank you Father for making our province free again,” he said.
Five minutes later, he said Albertans are living under a “Communist government.” Make up your mind, Shawn.
SMA’s name is a reference to the Solidarity movement in Pawlowski’s native Poland, which overthrew the country’s Communist government in 1989, an allusion so heavy-handed that Pawlowski’s party ripped off its logo font.
Festivus came early this year, because Pawlowski’s speech was an airing of grievances.
The UCP are “pathological liars who are corrupted to the core” and “monsters.”Smith is a “bloody murderer” who is fulfilling the World Economic Forum’s “evil agenda.”
NDP leader Rachel Notley is a “witch” and the media are “devils.”
Former justice minister Kaycee Madu is “Judas Iscariot,” Pawlowski proclaimed, wondering why Madu wasn’t there Wednesday. Probably campaigning, I would assume, since his Edmonton-South West riding is highly vulnerable, or an infinitude of other reasons.
Another former justice minister, Tyler Shandro, “sent his Gestapo” after those who flagrantly violated COVID restrictions, the street preacher said.
Pawlowski also accused the government of funding the “grooming of children” with millions of dollars. Huge if true.
Speaking of grooming, addressing the crowd immediately before Pawlowski was his son, Nathaniel, whom SAM president Nick Lauritsen said “has been trained for such a time as this” in his wildly uncharismatic remarks after Hamm’s introduction.
Pawlowski made three allegations of “political bribery,” none of which directly involved Smith, nor were any remotely substantiated:
The UCP offered him the opportunity to chair Smith’s COVID review panel if he agreed to leave politics.
The party proposed amnesty and $2 million if he agreed to shut up.
He was offered a cabinet position if he “crossed the floor” to the UCP.
Pawlowski said he turned down these alleged offers, because he’s “not the Whore of Babylon.” He also called the COVID panel a “Muppet Show,” which is incredibly insulting to Kermit and his pals.
I asked Pawlowski how this announcement is anything other than a cheap publicity stunt for his campaign.
“You want to know the truth? I don’t care what you think,” he responded. Given his open invitation to the media to attend his clown show, he has a funny way of showing it.
I also asked to clarify how he could cross the floor without a seat in the Legislature. He said she asked him to run for the UCP, promising him a safe seat, when he was still leader of the Alberta Independence Party, which is not a floor crossing.
That party ultimately booted him because he talked too much about God and not enough about Alberta separatism, suggesting they were entirely unfamiliar with their leader’s MO.
Pawlowski claimed he has 10 witnesses, some of whom were in attendance.
Can we hear from them? No, Pawlowski said, claiming his team of lawyers “from multiple law firms” told him to save the proof for court. But he said he would ignore his lawyers’ advice if Smith agreed to debate him.
If you recall, Smith was heard in a leaked phone conversation telling Pawlowski that she was in “almost weekly” with justice ministry officials about the mischief charge he faced as a result of his role egging on the Coutts border blockade — a blockade Smith enthusiastically endorsed. He’s since been convicted of that offence.
Smith said she was under the impression she had the power of the U.S. presidency to grant clemency to people charged with crimes. It turns out this isn’t the case, but Smith promised to try one more time.
Pawlowski claims he didn’t leak the conversation, despite it first appearing on his YouTube page months before media got wind of it.
The UCP issued a carefully worded statement in response to reporters’ inquiries concerning Pawlowski’s allegations, saying Smith “is not aware of any conversations or alleged offers” to Pawlowski “and strongly questions the credibility of his claims.”
Notley released a statement reminding voters that despite his newfound disdain for her, Pawlowski is the very person Smith “interfered in the justice system for.”
I honestly don’t know whether Smith or Pawlowski is less trustworthy, but in this specific instance I’m inclined to believe Smith. There’s no way Pawlowski has the integrity to turn down repeated generous offers in exchange for him doing essentially nothing (although the thought of him shutting the fuck up sure is nice).
A UCP source told me the party was worried Pawlowski had some actual dirt on Smith she hadn’t disclosed, but that evapourated once he started talking, because he made her appear reasonable by comparison. While it’s not exactly a daunting task to look reasonable in comparison to Pawlowski, making Smith appear sensible is no small feat.
Pawlowski’s remarks were punctuated by applause from his supporters who stood on the Legislature steps with him and the media. Western Standard publisher Derek Fildebrandt aptly — words I thought I’d never say — christened them the “Branch Arturians.” (If you don’t get the reference, Google ‘Branch Davidians.’)
A guy in an Ed the Sock t-shirt with “Think” printed on it provided a welcome contrast with Pawlowski and his supporters’ detachment from reality, heckling Pawlowski from the grass across the street.
I decided I had to speak to him. His name is Bill Fahey, and he’s a fan of my work. He said he doesn’t agree with the Sock’s irritating libertarian-turned-hyperpartisan Liberal politics, but likes to support Canadian content creators and appreciates the shirt’s message.
“I can’t stand the lying, so that’s why I speak up,” he said of his heckling.
One example Fahey cited was Hamm’s early remark that the Critical Infrastructure Defence Act, which Pawlowski faces an additional pending charge under, was imposed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. In reality, former premier Jason Kenney, who passed it in early 2020 to prevent pipeline blockades.
It was definitely a weird lie, considering these people hate Kenney, and now Smith apparently, just as much as Trudeau. Pawlowski repeatedly referred to the NDP as Communists and UCP as Nazis. If that’s true, I know which side I’m on.
I agree with Fahey that Pawlowski and his supporters are right to oppose the act, which gives the government the ability to arbitrarily declare anywhere it wants to be “essential infrastructure” and prohibit protest there.
This opposition is shared by Alberta’s labour movement, who will be awkwardly joining Pawlowski and friends’ court challenge against the law after the Supreme Court ruled last year that only people charged under the act can challenge it.
Fahey said he’s a staunch NDP supporter and constituent of Marlin Schmidt’s, joking that perhaps he should display one of the Pawlowski signs on offer to convince conservatives to split their vote — not that it would make much of a difference in most of Edmonton.
Speaking of vote splitting, Benita Pedersen of All Fired Up for Freedom was on site holding placards of support for the UCP and Danielle Smith, with a sign warning about the dangers of dividing the conservative vote, including a phone number you can call to learn more, which appears to be Pedersen’s.
You might recognize Pedersen as the Edmonton regional captain of Take Back Alberta (TBA), but she insisted she was at the Pawlowski event solely in her capacity as a member of the other freedom group.
“I help various freedom-minded individuals and groups with projects, events and initiatives,” Pedersen said. There are so many, it’s hard to keep track. She also gave a shoutout to Albertans for Liberty.
Yet when I asked her why she supports Smith, she prattled off one of the exact same talking points she instructed TBA supporters to employ to convince people to vote UCP, highlighting Smith’s health-care reforms.
Pedersen told The Orchard that she thinks Pawlowski is a great guy, with whom she’s aligned on “certain” issues, but disagrees with his decision to disrupt conservative unity.
“Even though Pastor Artur Pawlowski and I disagree on our politics, I am very hopeful that once the election is over we can be friends again,” she said.
I wrote a piece for The Breach I’m quite pleased with about the NDP’s uninspiring election campaign, focusing on revenue sources, labour policy, public education, health-care worker retention, the drug poisoning crisis, climate and energy.
I spoke to former Alberta NDP leader Brian Mason, University of Calgary political scientist Lisa Young, Athabasca University labour studies scholar Jason Foster, Wing Kar Li of Support Our Students, Chris Gallaway of Friends of Medicare, harm reduction advocate Euan Thomson, and Parkland Institute researcher Ian Hussey.
Read it here and feel free to share it widely on your social platform of choice.