A Calgary mayoral candidate — recently described as “dangerous and out-of-control” by a judge — will go to trial Monday, accused of causing a disturbance.
Kevin J. Johnston is currently behind bars on two sets of criminal charges. He is in a host of legal trouble in Calgary after arriving seven months ago from Ontario to run for mayor and to help lead a pandemic-denying, anti-mask movement.
Earlier this month, an Alberta judge described Johnston as “frightening” and “venomous.”
Johnston also faces a charge of criminal harassment for targeting Alberta Health Services employees — one inspector in particular — who have been tasked with enforcing public health measures aimed at controlling the spread of COVID-19.
‘Venomous, hateful and threatening’
Ten days ago, Johnston was found guilty on three counts of civil contempt for defying judges’ orders aimed at controlling frequent rule-breakers who incited others to defy public health restrictions.
Until he was taken into custody on May 26, Johnston hosted web broadcasts and online video streams where he would post angry, threatening rants, with much of his rage directed at AHS employees.
Some of those videos were presented as evidence at Johnston’s civil contempt hearing.
In a scathing 20-page decision, Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Adam Germain did not mince words, calling Johnston’s behaviour “venomous, hateful and threatening.”
“Most people who have the misfortune of listening to Mr. Johnston would be terrified by the extent of his animus, his frightening facial features and his threats expressed in certain terms,” wrote Germain.
‘A dangerous, out-of-control individual’
Johnston has said several times on video posted to his social media accounts that he is prepared to arm himself and go to the homes of health officials to arrest those who have taken enforcement actions.
He has also posted photos of one health inspector and her husband, asking his followers to track down her address and licence plate.
“He presents as a dangerous, out-of-control individual,” said Germain after watching the videos. “The malice that Mr. Johnston expresses is simply beyond the pale of normal social discourse.”
Criminal charges in 3 provinces
Following months of threats, AHS filed a $1.3-million defamation lawsuit against Johnston.
Since his arrest, Johnston has twice been denied bail, deemed too high a risk to reoffend.
Johnston’s latest trial involves a charge of causing a disturbance.
Videos posted by Johnston and his followers show he arrived at the Core shopping mall in downtown Calgary without a mask and became abusive to young employees when asked to either put one on or leave, according to police.
Johnston is also facing assault charges in British Columbia and hate crime charges in Ontario.
Mayoral candidates with a criminal record or facing charges are not precluded from running for office in Calgary. They simply can’t have broken any election laws or owe money to the city.