Right-wing social media personality and Calgary mayoral candidate Kevin J. Johnston was handed an 18-month jail sentence on Monday for being found in contempt of a court injunction.
Johnston had called Mohamad Fakih — owner of Paramount Fine Foods — a “terrorist” and “baby killer” six times in online broadcasts and at rallies earlier this year despite a 2019 court order forbidding him to make defamatory statements about Fakih.
In 2019, Ontario Supreme Court Justice Jane Ferguson awarded Fakih $2.5 million in damages for defamation by Johnston, calling Johnston’s words “hate speech at its worst.”
In Monday’s sentencing, Ontario Superior Court Justice Frederick Myers wrote: “Mr. Johnston’s words are classic hate speech.”
“They draw on tropes to assign negative characteristics based on ugly stereotypes, like branding Muslims as terrorists, for example,” Myers said.
Myers handed the former Mississauga mayoral candidate. who represented himself, three months per instance of contempt of court.
“One slip might be an accident. Six are not. The last one occurred after the contempt motion had already been brought,” Myers wrote in his decision.
“There is a need in this case for a sentence that makes the public sit up and take notice.”
Myers added that Johnston’s actions including calling on his followers to not pay taxes and to not follow court orders affected the sentencing, adding Johnston “puts himself above the rule of law.”
Myers said he was thinking of Canadians who might fear that the civil court system cannot protect them and others who would try to undermine court authority, as well as the broader opinion that the law should be enforced equally.
“In considering the need to protect Mr. Fakih and the public, I accept that the only way to do so is to remove Mr. Johnston from the public for a time,” Myers wrote.
Johnston will begin serving his 18-month Ontario sentence after he has completed an earlier sentence — served on weekends — from being found in contempt of court in Alberta. Myers agreed to have that begin in January 2022.
Fakih told Global News the sentence was “satisfying” and a “serious punishment.”
“It’s sad inside my heart that I had to wait that long,” Fakih said. “But the justice system has spoken loud and clear and sent a strong message that this is not acceptable in our country; hate will never win.”