Alberta Health Services sues Calgary mayoral candidate for $1.3M over threats to health-care workers

A Calgary mayoral candidate who has repeatedly made threats against Alberta health-care workers doing their part to enforce COVID-19 public health measures is now being sued by the province’s health authority.

Alberta Health Services filed a lawsuit earlier this month against Kevin J. Johnston, who has also twice been arrested for violating an injunction granted to the health authority, banning Johnston from threatening, contacting, photographing or approaching any health officer or employee.

Read more: AHS gets restraining order against Calgary mayoral candidate who threatened health-care workers

The lawsuit claims Johnston’s threats against Alberta health-care workers started as early as November 2020, but intensified in April of this year, when he published a video that showed a health-care worker at an event.

He also posted a video in May where he openly threatened AHS staff, saying that if he is elected mayor, “you’re all going to be in handcuffs.”

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“I’m coming for you all,” he said in one online video stream.

“And if SWAT won’t come, it’s simple: I’ll arm myself and I’ll come right to your doors and I’ll come and get you.”

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The court action against Johnston gives numerous examples of behaviour that AHS claims is in contravention of the province’s public health orders as well as the restraining order AHS was granted against him in May.

It also says Johnston’s calling AHS employees “Nazis,” “Gestapo,” “facists” and “communists” and saying they’re terrorists and evil, is defamatory conduct.

AHS also claims Johnston’s videos and comments were made and posted “with actual malice,” and were “broadly published and republished by the defendant… for the dominant and malicious purposes of injuring (health-care workers).”

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“Throughout their publications of the defamatory statements, the defendant Johnston was driven by spite, animosity, and ill-will toward the (health-care workers), including a desire to
wreak revenge on (health-care workers) for legitimate, appropriate and lawful enforcement of the (public-health) orders and the exercise of their duties under the Public Health Act and such further and other particulars as may be proven at trial,” the statement of claim reads.

Read more: Calgary mayoral candidate, pastor both released after alleged COVID-19 violations

AHS also claims Johnston has never apologized to health-care workers for the comments, and that instead he “has persistently reiterated his hateful and defamatory rhetoric at every conceivable opportunity.”

AHS said because of Johnston’s persistent threats and conduct, AHS staff have endured “ridicule, hatred and contempt, and have suffered damages to their reputation in providing health-care services to Albertans,” as well as “serious personal and psychological injuries.” The health authority claims a public health inspector has taken a leave of absence from her role.

The statement of claim goes on to say Johnston’s “conduct and attacks constitute tortious harassment” and assault of employees, as well as “tortious intrusion on (their) privacy.”

Read more: Calgary mayoral candidate Kevin J. Johnston arrested after illegal public gathering: police

As a result of the impacts endured by AHS staff, the health authority is seeking $1.3 million in damages, including $500,000 for general damages, $250,000 for aggravated damages and $250,000 for punitive damages.

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None of the claims made by AHS have been tested in court.

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