In the Canadian province of Alberta, Christian pastor Artur Pawlowski recently defied government health rules to hold a church service. Police responded by placing the Polish immigrant under arrest, and according to one account, a SWAT team forced Pawlowski to kneel in the center of a busy highway. Those who find this conduct puzzling might contrast police tactics during a mass shooting in Canada.
On the morning of April 18, 2020, Nova Scotia denturist Gabriel Wortman began shooting people at random. An active shooter normally draws an emergency alert sent to phones and announced on television and radio. With Wortman, that didn’t happen.
Police chose to warn the public through Twitter, which Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Chief Superintendent Chris Leather claimed was “instantaneous” and “a superior way to communicate this ongoing threat.” Many Nova Scotians don’t use Twitter and had no clue what was going on.
By the end of April 19, a Sunday, Wortman had claimed 22 lives before police finally killed him in a shootout. Had the public been warned by television, radio and phone, which had happened with COVID, many of those deaths could have been avoided. The mass shooting recalls another case of police incompetence in Canada.
After working at a summer fair in 2008, Timothy McLean, 22, boarded a Greyhound bus for Winnipeg. Taking a seat next to him was Vince Weiguang Li, born in Dandong, China, and a graduate of the University of Wuhan Institute of Technology with a degree in computer science.
From 1994 to 1998, Li reportedly worked as a software engineer in Beijing. But in Canada, where Li immigrated in 2001, he took jobs at fast-food restaurants, Wal-Mart and such. Li became a Canadian citizen in 2006. On July 30, 2008, he too boarded the Greyhound bus for Winnipeg.
Li suddenly brandished a large knife and began stabbing McLean in the chest. The larger, stronger man killed McLean then cut off his head, displaying it like a trophy to terrified passengers outside the halted bus.
Li frightened off any would-be heroes then reentered the bus, where he dismembered McLean and began eating his victim’s innards. Li had no gun, but a heavily armed Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) squad did not force entry and take down the murderer. Instead, they waited several hours until Li broke through a window.
The “Canadian cannibal,” as headlines described him, was then subdued and arrested. Police found McLean’s nose and tongue in Li’s pocket, but officers declined to identify the killer or his victim.
Li did not know McLean and there was no evidence he had planned the murder. On the other hand, Li had attempted to drive off the bus, which the driver had disabled, and took other evasive actions. That constituted evidence that Li knew what he did was wrong.
Even so, the court found Li not responsible for the crime by reason of mental illness. In June 2009, Li was remanded to the Selkirk Mental Health Centre. In 2010, he was allowed outside the locked ward. And in 2012, he was granted short, escorted visits into the city of Selkirk, Manitoba.
In February 2017, Li received an absolute discharge with no requirement to attend reviews or abide by conditions. The Chinese immigrant changed his name to Will Lee Baker and reportedly lives quietly in rural Manitoba.
“Call him Vince Li, or call him by his new alias Will Baker,” Toronto Sun reporter Mark Bonokoski wrote in 2017. “But also call him what he is—a cannibal killer who beheaded his victim in the back of a Greyhound bus, cut out his heart and ate a piece of it. Time does not erase or sanitize those facts.”
In the case of the cannibal, Canadian police were careless. With mass shooter Gabriel Wortman, they were downright negligent. By contrast, pastor Pawlowski committed no violent crime, and it was unclear whether innocent people had been harmed by any violation of health regulations.
In this case, police did not respond with a message on Twitter. Instead, they showed up in force and treated pastor Pawlowski like a violent criminal.
Such heavy handed arrests for violations of health rules are hard to find, so if anybody thought the pastor had been singled out for his Christian faith it would be hard to blame them. Now released from custody, Artur Pawloski could be forgiven for likening contemporary Canada to the Polish Communist state he and his family knew from experience.
Lloyd Billingsley is the author of “Yes I Con: United Fakes of America,” “Barack ‘em Up: A Literary Investigation,” “Hollywood Party,” and other books. His articles have appeared in many publications, including Frontpage Magazine, City Journal, The Wall Street Journal, and American Greatness. Billingsley serves as a policy fellow with the Independent Institute.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.