Published: June 11, 2021
Online broadcasts by fringe mayoral candidate Kevin J. Johnston calling Alberta Health Services employees murderers and Nazis are defamatory, a $1.3-million lawsuit claims.
A statement of claim filed by AHS lawyer Mark Jackson said the online campaign by the staunch anti-masker amounts to “actual malice” against the employees, particularly two health inspectors Johnston has specifically referred to — Sarah Nunn and Dave Brown.
The lawsuit alleges Johnston’s campaign against AHS commenced in November 2020, when the Ontario resident was in the process of moving to Alberta.
“He posted a video where (he) referenced AHS and AHS public health inspectors, which was the start of a lengthy hateful campaign intended to harass, intimidate, obstruct and defame the plaintiff AHS and its employees,” the claim states.
It says around April 5 of this year, Johnston “escalated his involvement in the opposition of AHS and AHS public health inspectors in the enforcement of (Dr. Deena Hinshaw’s) orders and the exercise of their duties under the (Public Health Act).”
Among the statements attributed to Johnston are comments calling Nunn a “terrorist” for attending pastor Artur Pawlowski’s street church to enforce a court injunction and calling AHS employees criminals that he will have arrested when elected mayor, saying they had committed culpable homicide.
In one media interview the defendant videotaped and posted online, Johnston vowed to send AHS workers to prison.
“We are going to be utilizing the law and I’m going to be working in the confines of 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 lawsuit quotes Johnston as saying in a May 12 posting.
That same day, on an online broadcast called The Kevin J. Johnston Show, he engaged in “hateful, harassing and defamatory rhetoric,” the claim says.
“These AHS inspectors, they’re cowards and they’re criminals and they’re extortionists and they’re terrorists and they must be brought to justice, they must be made to pay,” Johnston is quoted as saying.
“If you’re friends with this Sarah Nunn person, when I’m mayor, you’re going to be investigated as well. . . I intend to make this woman’s life miserable, I intend to destroy this woman’s life.”
“The defamatory statements were published by the defendant Johnston with actual malice, knowing that they were false, or with reckless indifference as to whether they were true or not,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit also says AHS employees including Nunn and Brown “have sustained serious personal and psychological injuries.”
It says Johnston has also threatened to identify the personal residential addresses of AHS employees, which constitutes an unlawful intrusion on their privacy.
The claim seeks general damages of $500,000, punitive and aggravated damages of $250,000 each and special damages of $300,000.
A statement of defence disputing the unproven allegations in the lawsuit has not been filed.