It is not shaping up to be another full-scale occupation, but Ottawa residents are bracing for the continued presence of far-right demonstrators, many if not most of whom were part of February’s convoy.
Canadian Anti-Hate Network
Kevin Johnston, an Islamophobic live streamer awaiting trial on hate speech and assault charges, has been promising to go after members of “antifa” and their families, as well as Alberta Public Health workers, one of whom he points to by name and has asked for her address.
What is particularly worrying is that, as first reported by the CBC, Johnston could soon have a copy of the voters list, a document that contains all the names, phone numbers, and addresses of registered voters in the municipality.
During a request for comment by journalist Meghan Grant, which Johnston recorded and posted to a streaming video site, he doubled down on his future plans to take action against public health employees.
“What I’ve done is I’ve issued a promise to the key brass and to the inspectors of Alberta Health Service. The day I take office as mayor of Calgary we’re going to be sending Calgary Police Services out to go and arrest them for the following charges: intimidation, criminal trespass, criminal harassment, extortion and terrorism,” Johnston said in the video.
By his telling, he will be too busy campaigning to use the voters’ information to his own ends and expects the police to handle the arrests.
“That’s exactly what I’ve told them all and AHS people who feel they have the right to trespass at people’s business and tell people they’re going to be shut down if they don’t pay absorbent fines. I made a promise, not a threat.”
When asked by Grant about statements saying Johnston would arm himself and go to the home of AHS employees if the police would not, he remained defiant, saying he would.
“That would be me acting as an officer of the law,” he said, adding an accusation that his targets are “guilty of culpable homicide.”
Current legislation says the list of electors can only be used for campaign purposes. If a person uses the list of electors for another purpose, that person would be liable for a fine of up to $100,000, or imprisonment of up to one year -- or both. Any punishment would occur after the fact, and proving that the list was abused and personal information of voters was not obtained in another way could be difficult.
Additionally, the legal system may not be a sufficient deterrent. Johnston has repeatedly said on stream that he has yet to pay any amount of the multimillion dollar judgments already made against him and challenges others to sue him, citing his plans to drag the process out and refusal to pay any amount ordered by the court.
Under Alberta’s Local Authorities Election Act, according to the city, council can, “if it so desires, direct the preparation of a list of electors who are entitled to vote in an election.”
The City did not respond to questions about if and how voters can remove their names and personal information from the list provided to candidates by time of publication. Provincially, Ontario and British Columbia confirm that they allow for voters to request their personal information be removed.
“As of the current date, council has not directed the Returning Officer to prepare a list of electors for the 2021 general election,” the City of Calgary told the Canadian Anti Hate Network in a statement.
“The Returning Officer will be seeking council’s direction on preparing a list of electors in July when amendments to the Election Bylaw will be brought forward,” the city said. “If council directs the preparation of a list of electors, the returning officer will prepare that list and will be required to provide the list of electors to candidates who request it on September 22, following the last day to withdraw nominations.”
With legislation in place to attempt to stymie abuse, concerns still remain and it is not the first time this has been an issue either. The last federal election saw the Canadian Nationalist Party successfully register with Elections Canada. This means the white nationalist, neo-Nazi party that promotes the creation of a white ethnostate as one of its major platforms had access to the name and address of every single voter in the country.
Elections Canada told the Toronto Star that it had no power to disqualify parties based on ideology.
Appearing constantly at a variety of anti-lockdown protests and events, Johnston was recently at the centre of an altercation with employees at a Dawson Creek, BC grocery store. After being refused service for not wearing a mask, he punched the owner of the store in the face while others with him live streamed the incident. He was arrested on scene and charged with one count of assault, according to police.
Johnston is still awaiting trial for wilful promotion of hatred under Criminal Code Section 319(2). In 2017, Johnston posted a video offering a $1,000 reward for footage of Toronto Muslim students praying at school.
A five-month-long investigation resulted in charges, but in the almost four years since, he has yet to face trial.
Johnston also owes $2.5 million for statements he made about Paramount Fine Foods owner Mohamad Fakih during a protest. At the time, Ontario Superior Court Justice Jane Ferguson called Johnston’s actions toward Fakih “hate speech at its worst.” This is “by far and away the largest cyber verdict that’s sitting on the record right now,” Vancouver lawyer Roger McConchie told The Globe and Mail at the time.
He continues to defame Fakih, referring to him as a baby killer and child murderer.