Canadian Anti-Hate Network
Live streamer, multi-city failed mayoral candidate, and courtroom regular Kevin J Johnston is being ordered by a judge to pay $650,000 for his targeting of an Alberta Health Services employee.
Johnston was found to have repeatedly defamed and harassed Sarah Nunn, an AHS public health inspector. Included among the penalties, an interim restraining order against Johnston was made permanent “obstructing, molesting, hindering, or interfering” with AHS and its employees.
“During his mayoral campaign, on his eponymous online talk show, and anytime there was a microphone nearby, Mr. Johnston spewed misinformation, conspiracy theories, and hate. Among his favourite targets were Alberta Health Services (“AHS”) and Sarah Nunn,” reads the decision by Justice Colin C.J. Feasby.
However, despite the ruling against him, even the judge noted that Johnston was “unlikely to pay.” Johnston famously received a $2.5 million judgment against him for defaming Paramount Fine Foods owner Mohamad Fakih during a protest. 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.
“Mr. Johnston appears to have no financial resources,” Feasby said.
Johnston previously stated during live streams he has no intention of paying any of the judgements against him, on occasion even daring his opponents to take him to court.
Over the course of the COVID-19 lockdowns and health measures of the past few years, Johnston encouraged his supporters to harass AHS employees and took aim at Nunn specifically after anti-2SLGBTQ+ and Christian nationalist pastor Artur Pawlowski released footage of Nunn and police officers arriving to perform an inspection. Pawlowski can be heard shouting “Nazi” and “Gestapo” at the AHS and police.
Johnston broadcast an interview with Pawlowski about Nunn and other AHS employees at Pawlowski’s Church.
“Mr. Pawlowski’s description of Ms. Nunn and other AHS employees as ‘villains, Nazis, Gestapo, Communists, Fascists’ would tend to lower their reputations in the eyes of a reasonable person,” the ruling stated. “The same goes for Mr. Johnston’s statement in response to Mr. Pawlowski agreeing that the behaviour of Ms. Nunn and other AHS employees was ‘highly fascistic, highly communistic.’’
During his mayoral run, Johnston threatened to use the powers of the office to target many of his ideological and personal enemies. While this often included mention of antifascist activists working in opposition to Johnston, this also came to include Nunn and AHS employees.
“AHS has gone out of their way to commit the following crimes ... criminal trespass, criminal harassment, extortion, intimidation, and terrorism,” he told CTV reporter Tyson Fedor, according to the court. “Obviously, we’re going to put their names out in public ... we’re going to talk about them ... We are going to be utilizing the law to bring these criminals who work for AHS to justice, and believe me, they are going to go to prison, these are people who have committed heinous crimes against the people of Calgary and I’m not going to quit until they are in jail.”
The ruling determined that Johnston’s “bombastic statements” demonstrate that he recognized that “violence by those allied with him was a possibility” while feinting a disavowal.
“You AHS idiots don’t seem to realize you’re pushing way too far,” Johnston said. “Now, I don’t condone violence but when it happens to you, you’re going to deserve it.”
Johnston’s rants focusing on Nunn, included pictures of her and her family he pulled from her unlocked social media accounts. Nunn was repeatedly referred to as a “terrorist” and vowing to “destroy this woman’s life.”
The judge found that by repeatedly calling Nunn a terrorist, Johnston was trying to convey she was a “particularly heinous kind of criminal who had no regard for societal norms and human life.”
Brawls & Borders
Johnston has had a series of run-ins with the law over the course of his activism. An abominable spreader of disinformation, distorted facts, and outright lies, the pandemic has seen his troubles compound in and outside of the courtroom.
In January 2022, Johnston went on the run after failing to report back to a remand centre. A short manhunt ensued, with Johnston eventually being arrested after reportedly getting lost attempting to walk across the US-Canada border.
"Kevin J Johnston was arrested by US Border Patrol agents early this morning while attempting to cross the Saskatchewan-Montana border on foot,” the Calgary Police Service told the Canadian Anti-Hate Network at the time.
Despite running for office in Calgary at the time, Johnston also found the time to instigate a confrontation with store employees in Dawson Creek, BC, after he was refused service for not wearing a mask. When the local store owner attempted to record his information, Johnston stuck his phone in the man’s face. When it was batted away, Johnston punched him in the face.
The entire event inside and outside of the grocery store was recorded from several angles by several individuals who accompanied him to the store. Despite claiming to place the store owner under a “citizen’s arrest,” when police arrived, Johnston was taken into custody and charged with assault.
Concerns about Johnston’s behaviour also led the City of Calgary to decline to create a voters list that would be distributed to candidates.The voters list would contain the name and address of every registered voter in the region.
“I’m going to come after you with everything I’ve got. I’m going to come after you with full vitriol and full malice,” he shouted on his now-deleted Twitch account. “You have never once come across a guy like me who cannot wait to see each and every one of you suffer the way you’ve made all of us in Alberta suffer.”
Often bragging about his legal prowess to his followers, Johnston has managed to lose almost every one of his forays into the courtroom. He was sentenced to pay $20,000 in AHS’ legal fees and serve 40 days in jail over a series of weekends, for his repeated violations of public health orders and contempt of court.
This is after serving roughly seven weeks of jail time in the spring for threatening an AHS inspector and causing a disturbance.
In early September 2021, the embattled candidate also pleaded guilty to a hate crime in Ontario for his 2017 offer of $1,000 for video footage of Muslim children praying in public schools. Johnston also attempted to walk the guilty plea back during the Paramount Fine Foods trial, stating there “was no hate” in the video, and he only pleaded guilty because what he said could “possibly be construed by some as promoting hatred.”