Chris Scott, owner of The Whistle Stop Cafe, was put in handcuffs after an anti-restriction protest on May 8 in the parking lot of the business. (Screenshot via The Whistle Stop Facebook page)

Chris Scott, owner of The Whistle Stop Cafe, was put in handcuffs after an anti-restriction protest on May 8 in the parking lot of the business. (Screenshot via The Whistle Stop Facebook page)

Updated: Central Alberta café owner found guilty of breaching public health orders

Mirror café owner was charged after organizing May 8 anti-lockdown rally

Mirror café owner and anti-lockdown activist Christopher Scott has been found guilty of contempt for breaching public health orders.

Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Adam Germain said on Monday Scott and brothers Artur and Dawid Pawlowski, who are connected with a Calgary street church and were also facing contempt charges, all deliberately breached various health orders.

Scott was charged with contempt after organizing and attending a rally that drew 300 to 400 people outside of his Whistle Stop Café on May 8.

Germain set a July 27 sentencing date for all three men.

The judge said that Scott organized the rally in “open defiance” of a pre-emptive May 6 injunction from Associate Chief Justice John Rooke.

“That event, more than any other, triggered the Rooke order,” said Germain during the WebX virtual court appearance. Scott listened in remotely but did not speak.

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In a June 3 court appearance, Alberta Health Services lawyer Ashley McClelland said the order banning the rally was “clear and unequivocal.”

RCMP presented Scott with the order and read it out to him well before the rally. Despite that, he went ahead with the event, which featured food vendors, musical acts and speakers, including Scott.

Germain said that to prove contempt, the order involved must clearly state what should or should not be done, the recipient must be aware of it and that it was intentionally breached.

In all three elements, AHS lawyers proved their case beyond a reasonable doubt, he said.

Scott’s lawyer, Chad Williamson, argued that Scott had “reasonable excuse” for not following the order because his lawyers were not informed by AHS of the May 6 injunction hearing.

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Whether the judge would have issued the injunction if Scott’s lawyers had been able to state their case “we’ll never know,” he said.

Williamson is seeking to appeal in Alberta Court of Appeal.

The Pawloskis were arrested on May 8 and charged with organizing an illegal in-person gathering, inciting or inviting others to attend an illegal gathering, as well as promoting and attending the gathering by holding a church service. The brothers had held large, maskless gatherings throughout the pandemic and refused entry to health inspectors.

Germain asked Alberta Health Services lawyers to notify Scott, the Pawloskis and their lawyers ahead of the sentencing date if a jail sentence was being sought.

Since the three would be appearing remotely, reasonable time would have to be given to them to turn themselves in, he said. Given the ongoing pandemic, there may be other issues related to serving time behind bars that would need to be addressed as well.

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