Editor’s note: The headline has been corrected to show that Johnston will serve probation. We regret that error.
Controversial mayoral candidate and far-right social media personality Kevin J. Johnston pleaded guilty to a pair of recent criminal charges in a Calgary court Monday morning.
Johnston faced charges of harassing an Alberta Health Services employee and causing a disturbance at a downtown Calgary shopping centre.
“We were able to resolve them in a way that was fair,” Balfour Der, Johnston’s lawyer, told Global News.
“My client admits these offences were committed. In terms of that, he was probably over-enthusiastic in the message he was trying to send.”
On Monday, the court heard an impact statement from the AHS employee saying she was afraid for her and her children’s safety and didn’t feel safe leaving her home.
A joint submission from the Crown and defence agreed to have Johnston serve two concurrent nine-month probation periods — one in relation to the harassment charge and one for the disturbance charge.
Johnston is not to enter the CORE Shopping Centre as part of his probation terms. He’s also not allowed to be within 200 metres of the AHS employee or her family. Johnston was ordered not to post pictures or videos of her or any AHS employee.
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He is also not to leave the province during his probation but was given an exemption to return to visit his family in Ontario for three weeks starting July 16.
On June 30, Calgary police said the harassment incident took place between April 24 and May 22 and included “threatening conduct directed at the victim in person, on social media and online.”
He was originally arrested on May 26 on a Criminal Code warrant for causing a disturbance and being part of an illegal gathering on May 22 at the CORE Shopping Centre.
At the time, police said Johnston entered stores without wearing a face mask — then a requirement under provincial and municipal mandates — and allegedly verbally abused employees who requested he don a mask. Johnston left the stores only to return with others joining in on the verbal harassment, police said.
Johnston has been in police custody since the May arrest, amounting to 48 days in custody.
“The amount of time that he was in custody — 48 days — is a long period of time, especially for these types of offences,” Der said. “Nevertheless, he was detained by two different judges.”
Johnston is due to be released from police custody later on Monday.
Der said Johnston faces one more set of criminal charges stemming from the Drumheller area, a matter that has been adjourned until September. Der said he hopes those are resolved in a similar matter.
AHS has filed a defamation lawsuit against Johnston, seeking $1.3 million in damages for allegations that have yet to be proven in court.
Johnston was also charged with assault in Dawson Creek, B.C., on March 25. A trial date is set for Dec. 22.
In May 2019, Johnston was ordered by an Ontario judge to pay the owner of a prominent Middle Eastern restaurant chain $2.5 million after publicly accusing him of funding terrorism.
Alberta’s Local Authorities Election Act does not preclude anyone with a criminal record from running for municipal office. Convictions under election acts from the past decade or owing the city money would disqualify an individual from running.
– With files from Jessie Weisner, Global News and The Canadian Press