Published:May 28, 2021
Calgary mayoral candidate Kevin J. Johnston will remain behind bars on two criminal charges pending trial, a judge ruled late Friday afternoon.
Provincial court Judge Josh Hawkes said the number of outstanding charges facing Johnston “across the country” left him with a concern he poses a risk to further offend.
“Various release orders have apparently been unsuccessful in stressing upon you that you need to obey the law,” Hawkes told Johnston, who appeared via closed-circuit television from the Edmonton Remand Centre.
Johnston, 49, was detained in the capital on Wednesday after Calgary police issued a warrant for his arrest on charges of breaching a court order and causing a disturbance.
The charges relate to an incident at the Core shopping centre in downtown Calgary on May 22 in which Johnston and others approached staff in stores while unmasked and allegedly “became belligerent at staff,” the prosecutor said.
Court was told Johnston has several outstanding criminal charges in Ontario, B.C. and Alberta dating back to a Feb. 15, 2017, including a charge of willfully promoting hatred out of Brampton, Ont.
He also faces a Jan. 3, 2020, charge of intimidating a justice system participant; a July 3, 2020, charge of breaching a release condition; a Jan. 19, 2021, allegation of a breach; a March 26, 2021, charge of assault out of B.C.; and April 7, 2021, charges of forcible entry, causing a disturbance and mischief in Delburne, Alta.
Along with detaining Johnston on the grounds he is likely to commit another offence, Hawkes was asked to consider whether the mayoral candidate and staunch opponent of COVID-19 public health measures was also a flight risk because of his ties to Ontario.
Johnston said he has relocated to Alberta and has no intention of leaving the province.
“I have moved here permanently, my whole family is moving to Alberta. I have no desire to leave Alberta. I love it here.”
Defence lawyer Ian McCuaig, appearing by phone from Ontario, said Johnston has a strong defence to both charges he faces.
He said an amendment to the court order his client is accused of breaching means the pronouncement didn’t apply to his client when he took part in public rallies in Calgary on May 15.
McCuaig also said video taken of the incidents at the mall show Johnston didn’t violate any public health restrictions on public gatherings because the group with him are all part of his campaign team and they all currently live under one roof.
He argued there is nothing in the videos that constitutes causing a public disturbance.
McCuaig said because Johnston would at best face a short period of jail time, he will try to get a trial within the next few weeks.
The case returns to court on Monday.