Calgary fights to reverse street preacher’s acquittal
"There was no way, on any interpretation of these facts, that the trial judge could come to that conclusion," Ola Malik told Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Robert Hall in a summary conviction appeal of Judge Allan Fradsham’s 91-page lower court ruling last year.
"The trial judge is saying the city acted in excess and perilously close to abuse of process. Where is it that the city’s actions are abusive?"
Malik said the reason Pawlowski was prohibited from using amplification systems in his 2007 permit for his gatherings at Triangle Park, directly east of the downtown Drop-In Centre, was because of noise complaints from the public in 2006 and into 2007.
He said that, in no way, was intended to curb the Street Ministry preacher’s religious rights and freedom of expression.
"It’s about the impact it had on other Calgarians," said Malik. "It’s a balance between the right to use an amplification system and making the sidewalks into an obstacle course and other Calgarians who don’t want to be bothered by noise and have to walk down a street unimpeded. How do you find balance?
"The problem is (Fradsham) says Mr. Pawlowski’s rights are so important it overrides any other person’s rights."
Michael Bates, Pawlowski’s lawyer, said his client picked Triangle Park because that is where the most disadvantaged people — drug dealers, prostitutes and the homeless — were located and he could provide the most help. By denying him the right to use a sound system, he said, his number of followers were drastically reduced, thus his freedom of religion was breached.
"He said he tried to get his message across without an amplification system and it was a disaster," said Bates. "He had to yell and people couldn’t hear him. He couldn’t get his message across.
"Mr. Pawlowski’s specific religious beliefs are social activism. He’s specifically going as he’s commanded to go, to the streets where the street people are, and it’s in Triangle Park."
In a Dec. 7 written decision, Fradsham said while there is "little dispute that the accused engaged in most of the impugned behaviours," he also heard arguments for Pawlowski made under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Hall reserved his decision.
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