Calgary's Muslim mayor, Naheed Nenshi, has been held up as a symbol of the city's tolerance. Which is ironic, given his own anti-Christian bigotry in return
All means all
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi (Photo: Lyle Aspinall/QMI Agency)
By Ezra Levant Sunday January the 1st, 2012
Calgary's Muslim mayor, Naheed Nenshi, has been held up as a symbol of the city's tolerance. Which is ironic, given his own anti-Christian bigotry in return.
Last week, Nenshi ordered city police, backed up with a ridiculously large contingent of private security, to arrest a Christian pastor and five of his congregants who had the temerity to lead a Christmas service in the public atrium of Calgary's City Hall.
Artur Pawlowski, lead pastor of Calgary's Street Church, had foolishly taken the mayor at his word when he described city hall as the city's "living room," open to all.
What Pawlowski didn't understand is that Nenshi didn't mean Christians. Nenshi meant his own co-religionists - no, not Muslims, but the leftist activists who had comprised the Occupy Calgary protests for two months with Nenshi's blessing.
Nenshi permitted that two-month trespass in a public park, claiming the "Charter" prevented him from evicting the socialists, communists, anarchists and petty criminals who inhabited downtown Calgary's Olympic Plaza.
Of course, there is no Charter guarantee to set up tents, do drugs and have public sex in a city park.
Here's how Nenshi defended turning a blind eye to law breaking: "It's funny, the number of people who have talked to me in the last couple of days who have said ‘the Occupy Calgary people need to get off Olympic Plaza so that all citizens can have rights to their front lawn.' And I say, OK, so all citizens except the ones you don't like should have a right to the front lawn. Because all means all in my opinion."
All means all.
Unless they're Christians having a peaceful, drug-free, sex-free celebration of Christmas in the people's "living room." Then Nenshi sends in boys with the billy clubs. For a pastor singing Christmas carols and reading Bible passages.
This isn't the first time Nenshi - or the city of Calgary - has harassed Pawlowski or his Street Church. Over the past six years, Pawlowski has literally been to court more than 70 times fighting against a series of tickets, charges and other fabricated penalties cooked up by City Hall - none of which was applied to Nenshi's favourites in the Occupy movement.
He has been charged by the City of Calgary for such horrific crimes as serving food and drink without proper permits.
But Pawlowski's mission is to bring meals to the homeless who are turned away from official shelters because they are still abusing drugs or alcohol.
Occupy didn't have permits for their food, either. But because Pawlowski does so in the name of Christian charity, Nenshi targeted him.
Don't take Pawlowski's word for it. Judge after judge has condemned the city's behaviour. One trial judge said the city bylaw officers engaged in "abusive conduct."
This year, an appeal judge said the city's bullying of Pawlowski came "precariously close to being excessive and an abuse of power."
For a few weeks, Nenshi's policy of anything goes on public property was a reprieve for Pawlowski. While Occupy Calgary was allowed to break the laws, Pawlowski was allowed to minister to the homeless, too. But now that it's cold and Occupy Calgary has gone back to their parents' basements, Pawlowski's brief enjoyment of his real Charter rights - freedom of speech; freedom of religion; freedom of assembly - has been curtailed.
Speaking of grown men who live in their parents' basement, Nenshi is once again enforcing the law with precisely the brutality and bigotry that Calgary's courts warned him against. And during Christmas, no less.
Nenshi is a left-wing mayor. That's not new - Calgary's last four mayors have been Liberal, as are most of its city councillors. He's a minority politician in Alberta - that's hardly new either, in the province that gave us everyone from the Famous Five suffragettes to Canada's first Hindu and Muslim MPs.
What is new is that the Muslim mayor thinks religious tolerance is a one-way street - a point he made again brutally this Christmas.
Well, the best way to send a message to Nenshi about these issues is at the polls come Calgary's next civic election. It's a safe bet that not everyone in Calgary is going to stand for this attack on Christmas or for his support for the local branch of the Occupy movement. :-/
Once again the right wing Sun finds a way to come up with a story where there really isn't one. Way to play the "Christians are persecuted" card. Bunch of bs.
Oh, Really!!! What Rock have you been hiding under?
Religious Freedom in Canada by Chris Kempling
Chris Kempling delivered this address on March 4, 2005 in New York City to a United Nations Commission on Human Rights Delegate Briefing. He received a standing ovation.
Canada is a country which prides itself on religious freedom and religious tolerance. And in many respects that is true. Citizens are free to practice their faiths according to their traditions, generally without interference from the government. And even when someone's religious beliefs conflicts with a long established Canadian tradition, great tolerance can be shown, as was the case with the first Sikh Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer permitted to wear a turban instead of the regulation hat. That constable started his career in my home town of Quesnel, and he was accepted and appreciated by the community. Unfortunately, there are two primary areas of conflict between religious freedoms and government policy in Canada: abortion and homosexuality. A group of eight Christians, members of a group called Operation Rescue protesting abortion were arrested and sentenced to jail terms for peacefully protesting outside an abortion clinic. I met one of the men, Donald Spratt, who was incarcerated in British Columbia's maximum security Oakalla prison for his crime — he was holding a sign outside an abortion clinic. Currently, he is awaiting trial in the BC Court of Appeal for violating the "bubble zone" of an abortion clinic. Once again, he was simply holding a sign with a Bible verse on it — Thou shalt not kill.
A man by the name of Bill Whatcott, an evangelical Christian who is a licensed practical nurse, was fined $15,000 by his professional association, for protesting against abortion on his own time, and also fined $20,000 by the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission for speaking out against homosexuality. There is a great deal of intolerance shown towards religious people who express their views in public.
In May 2002, a Catholic high school in Whitby, Ontario, was forced by the Ontario Supreme Court to allow a homosexual student, Marc Hall, to take his boyfriend to the graduation prom, even though the church-run school has strict prohibitions against condoning any kind of homosexual behaviour. And marriage commissioners, who are public employees licensed to perform civil marriages, were told by Frank Quennell, the Saskatchewan Minister of Justice, to resign if they intend to refuse to perform same sex marriages. Several have already. The new legislation currently being considered by the Canadian government provides no protection for civic officials who for reasons of conscience or religious belief will not perform a same sex marriage.
Just a few months ago, a lesbian couple in the Vancouver suburb of Coquitlam arranged to rent a hall for their wedding reception from the Knights of Columbus, a Catholics men's service group. When the group discovered that the marriage was going to be between two women, they cancelled the rental agreement, stating that their religious beliefs prevented them from accommodating a same sex wedding. Even though they paid to reprint the wedding invitations and for the rental of a new hall, the couple is still suing the group in the BC Human Rights Tribunal.
Camp Arnes is a camp operated by the Mennonite Church, located on Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba. A homosexual choir called the Rainbow Harmony Project booked the camp for a weekend retreat. The Mennonites cancelled the booking after discovering that the choir was homosexual in nature, citing their faith, their mission statement and their code of conduct conflicted with the choir's purpose. The choir filed a discrimination suit with the Manitoba Human Rights commission, where the decision is pending. The Winnipeg school district has now forbidden all school groups from using Camp Arnes as well as three other Christian camps.
My dictionary says that tolerance is "the disposition to adopt a liberal attitude towards the opinions or acts of others, especially those of other religions or ethnic backgrounds." One would think that tolerance would mean that social liberals would be tolerant about our religious beliefs. In the Newspeak of today, however, tolerance means everyone is obliged to take a liberal attitude towards immoral sexual behaviour, but those who practice that immoral behaviour do not have to tolerate Christian beliefs which oppose such behaviour.
Then there's the term "hate". If Christians say publicly that they disapprove of homosexual behaviour because the Bible declares it to be immoral, then that is "promoting hatred". If they quote medical statistics about the HIV infection rates of homosexual men, that is "promoting hatred". If they object to their children being indoctrinated in kindergarten class with information about homosexuality, they are hateful people. Apparently Canadians can hold religious beliefs, but if they tell anyone else in a public forum, such as a newspaper, they are "promoting hatred".
How about "homophobia". It literally means an irrational fear, even terror, of homosexual persons. A phobia is a mental illness, which can be successfully treated. In Communist Russia, dissidents were sentenced to forced treatment in psychiatric hospitals, not because they were mentally ill, but because they had wrong thoughts. I believe it is no accident that the Gay Rights term for disapproval of homosexual behaviour is a mental illness term. In all my years as a mental health professional, however, I have never encountered anyone with an irrational fear of homosexuals. But the definition of homophobia, as defined by gay activists, is the unwillingness to approve of homosexuality. Even toleration without approval is defined as homophobic. So if you have a moral objection to homosexuality, you are "mentally ill" and require re-education. One homosexual activist, John McKellar, who opposes the Gay Pride movement, calls the use of the word homophobia, "a contrived slander" against religiously conservative people. But activists realize that religious people are unlikely to change, which is why they are focusing a tremendous amount of attention on re-educating children in public schools.
Let's take a look at some of the people who have been targeted by homosexual activists.
Mr. Hugh Owen is an evangelical Christian employed as a prison guard. He placed an ad in the Saskatchewan Star Phoenix. The ad was a picture of two stick men holding hands, with a red circle with a bar across, superimposed on them. Below were four scripture references, but not the actual Bible verses. In 2001 he was convicted of a hate crime by the Saskatchewan Human Rights Tribunal and forced to pay his three accusers $1500 each. The judge in the Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench suggested that using Bible verses in a newspaper ad like this, could be construed as hate literature. So there is now legal precedent in Canada that the Holy Bible is hate literature.
Dagmar and Arnost Cepica, a Christian couple in Prince Edward Island who operated a bed and breakfast in their own home, refused to rent their bedroom to two homosexual men. In 2001, they were charged and convicted of discrimination, and rather than fight the matter in court, they closed their business down.
Then there was the 1996 high profile case of professional printer Scott Brockie, who refused to print material for the Canadian Gay and Lesbian Archives, because he felt doing so would violate his religious beliefs. He was fined $5000 on February 24, 2000, and ordered to print the material anyway. Mr. Brockie took his case to the Ontario Supreme Court, then to the Ontario Court of Appeal and lost both times. The court has ordered Mr. Brockie to pay his opponents legal costs of $40,000. His total legal bills surpass $170,000. Like myself, he has set up a trust fund to help him with this burden, as he cannot afford it himself.
A few years ago, Evangelist Rev. Ken Campbell of Hamilton, placed ads in a Toronto newspaper objecting to the promotion of homosexuality by governments and public schools. He had two complaints laid against him in the Ontario and BC Human Rights Tribunals by homosexual activists. He went to the tribunals, without any legal representation, and basically preached the gospel, outlining in detail what the Bible says about homosexuality. He was acquitted by both tribunals, one of the few victories Christians have had in disputes with homosexual activists.
Stephen Boissoin of Calgary, is an evangelical pastor who wrote a letter to the editor questioning the promotion of homosexuality in the public school system. A University of Calgary professor has charged him with discrimination under the Alberta Human Rights act. Last May, at a fund-raising dinner for him held in a Calgary hotel, masked homosexual thugs burst into the dining room and disrupted the meeting, chanting "Right wing bigots go away, Gay Militia is here to stay". They carried a banner saying "Liberation: Queer Invasion". Their tactics remind me of the Nazi Brownshirts of the 1930's.
Several mayors of Canadian cities have been taken to Human Rights Tribunals for refusing to declare Gay Pride Days in their cities. The most prominent one was Diane Haskett, mayor of London, Ontario. She was found guilty of discrimination in 1997 and fined $10,000. Her sentence was issued during her re-election campaign, and she stopped campaigning. She won re-election by an overwhelming margin anyway. Also targeted were the mayors of Fredricton, New Brunswick, Hamilton, Ontario,(Brad Woodard and Bob Morrow), Kelowna, BC and Oliver, BC, as well as Ernie Reine, the Chief of Police of Regina, Saskatchewan. In the year 2000 every city in British Columbia was threatened with a Human Rights Tribunal lawsuit if they did not proclaim a Gay Pride Day by a group called the Rainbow Coalition. Many cities did, but some cities stopped making proclamations of any kind just to avoid the whole controversy. The Mayor of my town, who is a devout Catholic, refused to sign the proclamation after the city council passed the Gay Pride Day resolution over his objection.
Another concern by religious Canadians who belong to unions is their inability to prevent the unions from using their union dues to support homosexual or abortion causes. Although some labour laws allow union dues to be redirected to a charity for reasons of conscience, the process is difficult and expensive, and some people chose to quit their jobs rather than hire a lawyer to make sure they don't have to support causes they find morally offensive. My own union, the BC Teachers Federation, is an active supporter of the gay rights movement and has published their materials. One of the materials they published states that King David and Jonathan were gay lovers, and that all those who are morally opposed to homosexuality are homophobic and require re-education. Just last month the Ontario Elementary School Teachers Association publicly endorsed same sex marriage, even though many of their members are personally opposed to the concept.
Trinity Western University is a private Christian University in British Columbia which had permission to train elementary school teachers for the first four years of a five year program. As a Christian institution, they require all students to sign a pledge that they will not engage in immoral sexual conduct including homosexual behaviour, while on campus. In 1995, Trinity applied for permission to have their fifth year certified. The College of Teachers sent two committees to investigate, and both of them recommended approval of the program. But the College of Teachers overruled their own committees, and denied approval of the University's fifth year education program, arguing that the University's morality clause would produce discriminatory teachers. They presented no evidence of that position and lost all three court cases. Trinity had to spend $1.5 million on the case and only was able to recoup $168,000 from the College of Teachers. Trinity still has to prove to the College that they provide "anti-oppression pedagogy" courses to maintain certification of their education program.
I am a Christian seven days a week, both on the job and off the job, and I will not compromise my faith to teach falsehoods to children.
Christians writing to Senator Laurier Lapierre to protest Svend Robinson's hate crime bill, Bill C-250 got this response on February 24th 2004. "You should be ashamed of yourself for reading such books" referring to the Bible. He continued, "If your god teaches you to hate and judge, then get another god. You people are sick. God should strike you dead." And in response to one writer who signed her letter, "in God's service", he said, "This letter is more in the devil's service." Senator Lapierre later apologized after receiving a storm of criticism over his hate filled comments. Just recently, Pierre Pettigrew, Canada's minister of foreign affairs, suggested that churches had no business commenting publicly on the government's same sex marriage law.
Prior to the last election, Revenue Canada officials, the tax department, called in representatives of the Catholic and Evangelical Christian churches to warn them that they could lose their charitable status if they tried to influence their members to vote for parties which oppose same sex marriage. One of the most offensive incidents of anti-Christian discrimination was when officials from the Prime Minister's office told two Christian ministers not to make any references to Jesus Christ, the cross, or the New Testament in their memorial prayers during the Swissair memorial in Nova Scotia in September, 1998. At first the Prime Minister's office denied forcing the two ministers to delete references to Jesus from their prayers, but later admitted they did so because they thought that other religious leaders would be offended. Muslim and Jewish religious leaders were free to say whatever they wished, and were able to quote freely from the Torah and the Koran.
And last month, CBC Radio, the government's broadcasting company, refused to accept a paid ad from the Maritime Christian College, because it was advertising a lecture that was going to discuss family issues from a Christian perspective. No private broadcaster refused the ad.
The largest school district in the province of British Columbia in the Vancouver suburb of Surrey was sued by one of its own employees, a homosexual kindergarten teacher, so that he could use books promoting same sex families in his classroom. The Supreme Court of Canada eventually ruled that the school district's decision to forbid use of the books was influenced by the religious beliefs of some trustees and parents, and ordered the school board to re-evaluate the books without any religious criteria. The gay kindergarten teacher was furious when the school board rejected the books again because two were out of print and the third had a grammatical error in it. But two lesbian women are now suing the school board again, because the board had allowed religious parents from Christian, Sikh and Hindu religions to explain their concerns about the books in a public meeting, and the lesbians didn't like their statements. That case will be before the BC Human Rights Tribunal this summer.
Also before the BC Human Rights Tribunal at this time is a suit filed by another homosexual teacher. He is trying to force the British Columbia Ministry of Education to change the entire British Columbia school curriculum for all grades and subject areas to include "queer studies" and "queer role models". If he is successful, even students in religious schools may be affected, as all private religious schools which accept government funding must prove that they are using the BC Curriculum.
Three children on Vancouver Island being home schooled, recently failed to graduate from high school, because their parents refused to teach them a small mandatory course which included sex education, on religious grounds. They regarded the course, called Personal Planning, as an attempt at social engineering and promoting immorality. The mother, Cheryl Howard of Courtenay, took the case to the BC Human Rights Tribunal but lost. Her children had straight A's in every other course.
Then there's my case. On May 9th of 2002 I was convicted of conduct unbecoming a member of the BC College of Teachers. The reason was because I expressed my opinion in my local newspaper. Between April 1997 and July, 2000, I wrote one freelance column and six letters to the editor of my town's newspaper, which questioned the wisdom of promoting the homosexual agenda. I provided factual information on rates of promiscuity and disease infection which had been previously published in scholarly journals. I said that many religions consider homosexuality to be immoral, that it may be caused by negative psycho-social influences, and that it was nothing to be applauded. I said that I would refuse to be a false teacher, compromising my faith to teach information which the Bible clearly says is immoral. I said this not in my classroom, or my staff room, but on the editorial pages of my local newspaper. I had thought that the editorial page was a place where all Canadians have the right to express their points of view, whether other people like them or not. I highly value the freedom of the press, and all points of view should be represented in our newspapers, including those opposed to ours. But a man by the name of Hayward Broun once said, "Everyone favours free speech in the slack moments when no axes are being ground." And how true that is.
I appealed the conviction to the BC Supreme Court, but lost in February of last year. If this verdict is upheld by the courts, teachers will not be able to write privately to their own supervisors to question a new curriculum resource, or write privately their own elected officials on a matter of public policy, nor will they able to address the topic of homosexuality in post graduate research papers. I was disciplined for doing all of these things. This is an unacceptable restriction of freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and freedom of intellectual expression.
The College presented no complaints about what I had written publicly from teachers, none from students, none from parents, and most importantly, none from any member of the gay community. The people who did disagree with me did so by writing their own letters to the editor, and I fully support their right to do that.
The Catholic Civil Rights League, the Christian Legal Fellowship, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, The Christian Teachers Association have banded together to form the Canadian Religion Freedom Alliance to assist in my defence. My union is also supporting me. The case will be heard on April 21 and 22, this year. Joining the College of Teachers in opposing me is the BC Civil Liberties Association, who feel I should be suspended indefinitely unless I publicly recant, and the BC Public School Employers Association.
My school district supervisors have also decided to silence me. They have disciplined me repeatedly for speaking out, including for advertising my intention to offer orientation change therapy services through my private practice. On March 31, I must appear before a formal hearing of the Quesnel School Board to explain why I publicly criticized the government's same sex marriage legislation. I am facing a lengthy suspension without pay, even though not one homosexual person has complained about what I wrote. I've filed a Human Rights complaint against the school district for religious discrimination.
I am a Christian seven days a week, both on the job and off the job, and I will not compromise my faith to teach falsehoods to children.
As servants of the Most High God, it is our duty to speak up courageously for what is right. I do not know what may become of me, of my career. My lawyer has told me that my legal costs could reach a half a million dollars. I have a trust fund called The Christian Public School Teachers' Legal Defense Fund, but I do not currently have adequate funds to defend myself. I am trusting in God to help my defense.
Canada does have religious freedom, but that freedom is under assault. Thank you for inviting me to speak, and may God bless you all.
Chris Kempling. "Religious Freedom in Canada." United Nations Commission on Human Rights Delegate Briefing, (March 4, 2005, New York City).
This article reprinted with permission from Chris Kemplling.
Dr. Chris Kempling Psy.D. R.C.C. is a registered clinical counsellor in Quesnel, BC V2J 5R5. Write him at: Kempling@telus.net.
Wow!......... All of this conflict and pain, ugliness and confusion can be eliminated when the religion model based on power and the mass delusion of an omnipotent supreme being is exposed to the light of reason.
Give the link a try. It'll be like finding out Santa wasn't real and the tooth fairy was mom.
What's interesting in all of these types of threads as we enter 2012 is a change in what people hold to be true and it doesn't take rocket science to see it all around the world. Whether it be religious, political, or general beliefs...lines are being drawn in the sand. It is now proven through science that the frequency of the earth is changing and forget global warming as the entire solar system is heating up in this new cycle. It's a new rhythm of awakening, for a lack of better words, as time is moving faster and new discoveries such as zero point energy are emerging and for reasons unknown people are being effected. It is also proven through science that we as man kind are all connected and that came to light from earth changing events such as 911 and Lady Dianna when heart monitoring stations around the globe showed a dramatic spike and not only that it was also tuned to the electromagnetic field of this planet. Sounds Bizarre? You bet! But do a Google search on all of this and you'll find their is a common ground growing here. What does it all mean? Heck who knows, but something is up.
“If Members of the public had no right whatsoever to distribute leaflets or engage in other expressive activity on government-owned property...then there would be little if any opportunity to exercise their rights of freedom of expression.“(defending right to poster on public utility poles and hand out leaflets in public government-owned buildings)
Supreme Court of Canada
Why the Lies?
Written by Concerned Christians Canada Friday, 06 January 2012
There is a lot of buzz on the Internet regarding our arrest outside the mayor's office at Calgary's old City Hall, and about who's problem this matter is anyway (Mayor Nenshi or Mayor Bronconnier)? Some have suggested the current mayor has nothing to do with the matter of Street Church vs the City, but this is really just the remaining remnants of a previous battle between the street preacher, Artur Pawlowski, and the former mayor Dave Bronconnier.
Did the battle start with Bronconnier? Yes. But since Calgary's new mayor took over, Street Church has made several attempts to meet with the mayor to discuss the ongoing matter with him and to give the current mayor an opportunity to review the matter first hand, in order that all the mistakes of the previous administration could be put behind us and that the City and Street Church team up for the benefit of Calgary's homeless population, moving peacefully and co-operatively forward along side one another (bare in mind that Street Church Ministries prepares over 200,000 meals per year and delivers them to the most vulerable segment of Calgary's population, its homeless citizens)
Please review one of the letters that was sent to the mayor requesting a meeting to discuss the ongoing persecution of Street Church which can be found here.
To this day, Street Church still awaits a meeting with the mayor. Another aspect of confusion comes into this matter relating to the use of amplification. The media continues to incorrectly report the issues the City has had with the Street Church mininstry is completely to do with illegal amplification. Yet, to this day, Street Church has never been charged or convicted of being too loud, even though bylaw officers came with their noise meters to test for sound level breaches, they were never able to find any merit in the idea Street Church has exceeded noise level restrictions found in the city bylaws or park usage rules. Also, Street Church has never been convicted of disturbing the peace.
A number of judges, including the appeal judge in the most recent court case, relating to Street Church versus the City of Calgary, all agreed many of the bylaws used to prosecute Street Church were unconstitutional. Although there is a balance a city must try to maintain, between the rights of all citizens, the bylaws the City created were too vague and could be widely interpreted and applied by bylaw and police officers on the scene. For example, giving a half sandwich to a starving child would, under the City of Calgary's bylaws, make you a criminal worthy of fines and if you would continue to do such a horrible thing, the result could be an arrest and court appearance to prove your innocence.
Also, due to the bylaw relating to gathering a crowd in a park, if you were to gather with your family and friends for a picnic, you could be fined for gathering a crowd, if you did not first obtain a permit to 'gather'.
These are merely a couple of examples of bylaws that the City of Calgary uses to try to shut people up they don't like, including in this case Calgary's street preacher Artur Pawlowski.
1. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.
Fundamental Freedoms 2. 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
These freedoms are foundational to our democracy. In Canada, the Charter is a master law which other lower laws, such as bylaws, are subject to. When it comes to public life, the mere dislike of other people's opinions does not give you the right to deny them their guaranteed fundamental freedoms, not through law making nor application of the law by law enforcement personnel.
Back to the matter of who's fight this is now. The truth is that the fight initially started, under the Bronconnier administration relating to 'illegally' gathering in a park and 'illegally' giving away free goods and services in a park.
Our current mayor, Naheed Nenshi, by refusing to meet with Street Church, for over a year, by not calling off the City law department and by allowing both the City's Corporate Security and the police department to continue to persecute this group of Christians, made this an issue which directly relates not only to the past administration but also to himself.
If this were the only reason, perhaps one might say, that this is not enough to connect Nenshi with the current matters that have happened under his administration, including the recent arrest of six Christian people including Artur Pawlowski and five others at Calgary's City Hall. By this action, which was clearly not unbiased, Mayor Naheed Nenshi, showed not only that he fully supports what has been happening in the past, but that he is picking up and continuing these strategies in an effort to silence the voice of these Calgarian citizens.
The public should be aware that after the arrests, Street Church sent an e-mail requesting a response from the mayor of why I, Artur Pawlowski and four other Christians were arrested for waiting in the lobby of the old City Hall to talk to him regarding our treatment in the Atrium of Calgary's new City Hall building. Yes, you read correctly, we were not arrested because we refused to leave the Atrium. All thirty of us who came to peacefully gather in the Atrium were peacefully escorted by the police out of the new City Hall building. Most did not receive no trespass notices, but some did, yet all were escorted out. So to be clear, It was not until we went to talk to the mayor about the matter that the arrests took place. What's really ironic about our place of arrest is that it was outside the mayor's office, right beside the sign which states, 'cutting the red tape the mayor wants to hear from you.' (I guess 'from you' does not refer to Street Church, CCC or perhaps other Calgarians who want to question the tactics of the current administration)
By the way, to this day, Street Church has not received the courtesy of a personal reply to their e-mail requesting the mayor's clarification on the issue (later on in this article I will reference the public e-mail that the mayor sent to third parties who contacted the mayor complaining about our arrest, but Street Church never received his reply). I have also, personally, sent e-mails to the mayor on these and other issues and have not received a reply.
It was upon being kicked out of Calgary's 'living room', as Mayor Nenshi calls it, that we went to discuss the matter with him personally. We did not re-enter the Atrium, nor the new City Hall building. We all felt that the acts of Corporate Security and the police were accessive and were not in alignment with the new found tolerance of the City of Calgary to democratic freedoms as demonstrated with the multi-month incident with Occupy Calgary. Occupy Calgary was extended great and wide birth even to the point of destroying city property and lighting unauthorized fires in the park along with deficating in the park. Although we wouldn't desire these allowances, they were extended and yet they were clearly unlawful.
Occupy Calgary gave away free goods and services, set up tables, gathered crowds and stayed there in tents they errected, fixed signs and banners and flags to trees and posts, distributed pamphlets, had public debates and press conferences, at times using amplification, and all without permits. These activities were allowed to continue for weeks upon weeks and Mayor Nenshi continued to state that the city could not act for fear of stepping on the Occupiers rights. When the mayor, along with the other city councellors finally decided it was time to move the occupiers out, they did so by first getting permission from the courts to do so, through an injunction hearing. That's when they came in with the police to remove the tents of the Occupiers. The mayor then made it very clear, publicly, that the Occupiers were still allowed to protest, even at City Hall.
This is completely unlike the incident that happened between ourselves and the City. Artur Pawlowski had a meeting with Owen Key, the head of Corporate Security, who inicated that he had already had a meeting with Mayor Naheed Nenshi and that the mayor was already aware of the situation and he was therefor very confident to take action against us in the form of removing us from the Atrium. We found this hard to believe since the mayor repeately stated in the news the importance of protecting the rights of all citizens and he had on the public record indicated that the Atrium and Olympic Plaza needs to be made available to all citizens regardless of whether or not one likes those people or their views.
In the recent reply that came from Nenshi's office, it was not stated that Artur Pawlowski had tried to negotiate with Owen Key the head of Corporate Security, for over a month, for the right to use the Atrium for occasional peaceful gatherings or a room to gather and pray for the City and its administration. The very purpose of meeting with and speaking with Owen Key, on a number of occasions, was to negotiate usage of the Atrium with advanced notice and to ensure that there was understanding and agreement between both parties. This differs greatly from the Occupy Calgary approach, in which, they just showed up and carried out a Tibetan religious service in the Atrium, without permits or prior permission, without being bothered by corporate security or the police.
Also, the mayor's reply did not state that Artur Pawlowski refused to sign the application for Atrium use that was given, in its current form, as the application requires that a person agree to the usage rules pertaining to the Atrium, which are riddled with direct conflicts with the Charter and with the nature of the event that would be carried out (namely a religious event which the usage rules prohibit).
Here are the main problems with the usage rules as they pertain to the nature of the gathering Street Church was holding (direct quotes from the usage terms for the atrium):
The following events or activities are not allowed in the "space":
•Religious activities during business hours
•Political demonstration or any activity that is considered political
•Campaigning or soliciting of any kind [including giving out pamphlets or other documentation]
RESPONSIBILITY OF APPLICANT
The applicant must maintain a commercial general liability insurance policy in the amount of not less than Two Million Dollars ($2,000,000) inclusive limit for any one occurrence and such insurance policy shall include:
•The City of Calgary as an additional insured
◦A cross liability clause; and
■Products and completed operations coverage.
Marketing / Signage
•All signage and banners must be approved by the City Clerk’s Office. The City reserves the right to remove any signage deemed inappropriate.
•No hand-written signs permitted.
Applicant can only apply for the use of the “space” once per year.
So, the City wants all citizens to fill in their unconstitutional application which requires them to agree to the terms laid out in the External Users Guidelines. The problem is that those 'guidelines' prohibit them from doing the very activities they are desiring to do. What does this mean? It means that if Street Church filled in the forms and signed off on it and then proceeded to hold the service they were desiring to hold, they would in fact be breaching the agreement that they signed, which is a legal contract. Not to mention the fact that the behaviours the usage rules prohibit are protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, especially on public property, which the municipal buildings are. This is not just my opinion, but has been demonstrated by Canada's courts over and over again. Here is an example of a ruling from the Canada's highest court, the Supreme Court of Canada -
“If Members of the public had no right whatsoever to distribute leaflets or engage in other expressive activity on government-owned property...then there would be little if any opportunity to exercise their rights of freedom of expression.“ [defending the right to post on public utility poles and hand out leaflets in public government-owned buildings]
~ Supreme Court of Canada
The Mayor's office, in their reply to those who complained to the mayor about our arrest, made several incorrect statements which may lead the public to believe we were wrong in our dealings with City Hall. I will address them one by one (The Mayor's responses are italicized and my answers are below):
The column written by Mr. Levant and published in several Sun Media news papers ("All Means All") contains several significant errors.
This comment is not correct, and we will demonstrate that as we deal with each of his other comments one by one.
Mayor Nenshi did not call in the police, nor a private security team, to evict Mr. Pawlowski from City Hall. City security discovered that Mr. Pawlowski had refused to submit the necessary paperwork to use the City Hall Atrium in the manner he wished. The decision to call the Police was made by the City's security staff when Mr. Pawlowski refused to leave the Atrium following this discovery.
Before the church service, we were told by Owen Key head of Corporate Security that he had a meeting with the mayor discussing our intention to return to City Hall, to exercise our democratic freedoms, and Mr. Key told us that they spoke of how to handle the matter. So the mayor definitely was not only aware of the matter but was also involved in the decision making process of how we were to be dealt with. As indicated before, Street Church and Owen Key were in negotiations over paperwork relating to Street Church's desire to exercise their freedoms. This was not some kind of dramatic revelation of a sudden action by a militant group, no, it was something that was previously discussed with City Hall and City Hall knew of their intentions well in advance.
This procedure is the same for all groups, whether they are Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or anything else.
Clearly this procedure is not the same for everyone. Occupiers were allowed free reign for weeks. They were allowed to carry out a Tibetan religious ceremony in atrium and for several days occupied the area right outside the council chambers. Also, on one occasion, we are aware of, they took their vocal protest right inside the council chambers and were yelling and chanting whilst in there. Yet, though they had no signed permits, they had no problems with Corporate Security, no tickets and no arrests. Also, at the time the occupiers were holding their gatherings/protests in the Atrium, Artur Pawlowski questioned Owen Key as to whether Corporate Security were going to do anything about the occupiers and he said no. Is this the same tactics, the same approach, the same application of policy that the City and the mayor used only weeks later with Street Church?
Violating city bylaws is nothing new for Mr. Pawlowski, as he has been charged with more than 70 violations over the past six years, most of which were a result of citizen complaints about his use of amplification equipment in public spaces.
Firstly, this response is clearly trying to continue to paint Artur Pawlowski as a lawbreaker and a trouble maker even though he has been repeately vindicated by the courts, time after time. The mayor is correct, though, in pointing out that Artur Pawlowski has had to defend his democratic freedoms on almost countless occasions. To this day, he has never been criminally convicted and even though he has received over a hundred summons and stood countless times before the courts with a total of nine arrests, the only penalty he had to pay was a symbolic $1 fine (for using an electrical cord in a park, which the judge used as slap the City for their audacious behaviour. The City also indicated in this statement that the violations over the past six years 'most of which were a result of citizen complaints about his use of amplification equipment in public spaces', which is also not true. Ninety-five percent of the fines and summons had nothing to do with amplification whatsoever; most of the tickets were things like, giving away free goods and services, placing materials on the ground, gathering a crowd, erecting signs, stunting (for being a distraction to vehicles passing by), operating a barbecue in a park, etc... The fact that the Mayor's office would make such a statement indicates that the mayor is either completely incompitant, making public replies without checking his facts, or intentionally misleading the public. This civil servant should be embarassed to imply, in communications with the public, that a citizen should have to continue to defend himself over and over in the courts, even though the courts have repeatedly indicated that the city has abused its power and has created and applied unconstitutional laws that have infringed on the charter rights of that citizen.
In the last court judgement on this matter, the courts upheld The City's right to enforce its bylaws, a decision Mr. Pawlowski is appealing.
This is once again a misleading statement. In his decision, the judge ruled that seventy five percent of the bylaws presented before him were unconstitutional. He did uphold the right for the City to exercise their bylaws when it comes to amplification limits. That's all.
Mayor Nenshi has said that the Street Church is welcome to use the Atrium for their gatherings, provided they follow the proper process.
This is completely inacurate. As we stated before, Street Church asked for meetings with the mayor on multiple occasions, and so did I. They tried negotiating the use of the Atrium for over a month and indicated their concerns with the application process, especially as pertaining to the usage rules. Suggesting that Street Church could use the Atrium if they would follow proper procedure is rediculous. Even in an interview with Owen Key, the media asked if Mr. Key believed that Street Church would be granted permission if they followed proper procedure, and Mr. Key indicated that he couldn't say that they would be granted that permission.
The City of Calgary's approach to the Occupy Calgary protest was to obtain a municipal injunction against the protest to have it evicted from Olympic Plaza.
Firstly, the injunction acquired by the City had nothing to do with Occupiers being inside of the Atrium, but had everything to do with the Occupy Calgary tents at Olympic Plaza. Mr. Mayor indicated in the media a number of times that he welcomes Occupiers to protest at City Hall during working hours. Artur Pawlowski was at the, Occupy Calgary versus the City of Calgary, injunction hearing and heard all of the requests being made by the City and there was no mention of the Atrium or City Hall.
So again, Occupiers were welcomed, yet Street Church and CCC are not welcome. Occupiers were granted every freedom, including being allowed to cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage to Olympic Plaza, such as the destruction of the public bathrooms in the park, without any reprocutions, or harassment.
So whether or not the different treatment is related to the mayor's religious or ideological beliefs, the extreme treatment of Street Church in comparison to the overly lenient treatment of Occupy Calgary begs many questions.
It's also worth mentioning that the mayor's office is not the only one misinforming the public. Add to the mix, the reply by the Calgary Police Department, who immediately after our arrest gave the following public statement:
We were called by the City of Calgary’s Corporate Security department, in response to a group who were creating a disturbance. Those causing the disruption had already been served a trespass notice by the agent for the property and refused to leave. The Criminal Code of Canada provides the authority for a owner of a property to remove a trespasser and that’s why CPS was called to do. The matter is now before the courts and we cannot discuss it further.
In this short paragraph there are three direct lies and one misleading statement.
I will address each comment. To start with, Street Church had notified the public and the media that they would be holding a service in the Atrium on the day in question during the lunch hour in honor of our savior, Jesus Christ, during the Christmas season. City Hall also received this notification.
To be clear, CPS was not called in after the fact in response to us causing a disturbance at all. When we arrived at City Hall Corporate security was already there waiting for us with the police officers. In fact, a Street Church volunteer was on site about an hour earlier and saw City Hall Corporate Security meeting with the officers that later escorted us from the Atrium. They were making their plans before we even arrived.
Also, at this point we had not received no trespass notices from Corporate Security. That didn't happen until Artur Pawlowski had read from the Bible out loud and shared a short sermon to his listeners in the Atrium (once again without amplification). That is what Mr. Pawlowski did to receive his trespass notice. As for me, I didn't receive a trespass notice until I was deeply bothered by the abuse of the Charter that was happening before my very eyes and walked over to the base of the stairs outside the Council Chambers and started reading Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Prior to this I had never been given either a warning from Corporate Security, nor a no trespass order (in fact, I have never in my life been given a no trespass order, until I read Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms in my city's municipal building and by the way, I have also never been arrested before until I went to speak to my mayor about this reprehensible behaviour).
Could someone please explain what was illegal about doing such a thing? The reason why I ask the question to you, is because when I asked the officers, they could not or would not tell me the answer. They merely indicated that I was trespassing. What? I was trespassing in my City Hall, a public building? That's the reason I was given a no trespass order? That's why I wanted to talk to the mayor, which I was arrested for doing. Once again, when I asked the officers why I was being arrested, they told me that I was trespassing. I asked them for the reason they were arrresting me for trespassing, specifically what law or bylaw I had broken and they, without wanting me to look at them, restated again and again that I was trespassing. This was shameful behaviour and a disgrace to our country and our democracy. So to sumarize, I was given a no trespass order, not for breaking any laws or bylaws, but because I was not wanted there, in a public building that I pay taxes to be in and use for appropriate reasons.
The next statement is that of ownership of the Atrium. Who owns the building? It is a public building, paid for by the public, designed for public interactions and information exchanges and repeatedly protected against charter infractions by various levels of courts throughout our country and other democratic nations around the world and throughout history. To put it bluntly, the civil servants are merely caretakers of your and my civic building. They are not the owners.
And as for the last statement about this matter being before the courts which disables the CPS from discussing the matter further. In part this is true, tickets have been issued and until we plead guilty or not guilty and before the court hears the case, the fines are a matter of the courts to decide (whether or not the fines are legitimate). As for the matter of the arrests and whether people can question the CPS on why they arrested people for inquiring of the mayor why they were given trespass orders for reading from the Bible and the Charter of Rights and freedoms, that is a matter that the CPS can and should be made to answer questions about. They are absolutely not bound by law to be silent about the reasons for their actions, especially given their oath to serve and protect our City's citizens. But saying that the matter is before the courts is an excuse that they like to use when they don't want to be accountable for their wrongful acts. What seems certain with this whole matter and what clearly distinguishes Street Church from Occupy Calgary, and other groups that are given allowances and leniency that Street Church is not allowed to enjoy, is that the problem is with the message that is being delivered. If it's 'eat the rich', it's good, if it's the message of hope through repentance and acceptance of Jesus Christ, it's damnable.
So here are some questions I have for everyone.
Why is the office of the mayor obviously lying to people about what truly happened?
Why did the police department lie to the public just hours after our arrest about what took place?
Why is Calgary City Hall's Corporate Security lying about Street Church's previous discussions and negotiations with them regarding the Atrium usage?
Why is the mayor stating, what is clearly a lie, that Street Church is being treated like every body else, when anyone with their eyes open can clearly see the bias applied to Street Church, especially with the City's immediately recent dealings with Occupy Calgary?
When will the City of Calgary stop persecuting Street Church, stop spreading lies about them to the public and admit that they have abused their power and make recompense for their persecutions?
And the most important question I have is, if they acted righteously and lawfully then why the lies?
To the City of Calgary, to the CPS, to Calgary's City Hall's Corporate Security, and to our mayor and all others involved in this ongoing persecution repent for your wrong deeds...
"But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the Lord: and be sure your sin will find you out" (Num. 32:23 )