Calgary

Former fugitive Kevin J. Johnston pleads guilty to fleeing to U.S. to avoid jail

Disgraced Calgary mayoral candidate Kevin J. Johnston pleaded guilty to fleeing the country when he was supposed to be serving a jail sentence.

He was arrested in Montana in January after fleeing Calgary to avoid his jail sentence

Kevin J. Johnston was arrested Jan. 4 trying to cross the Saskatchewan border on foot into Montana in temperatures that were potentially deadly. (Candidate photo)

Disgraced Calgary mayoral candidate Kevin J. Johnston has pleaded guilty to fleeing the country when he was supposed to be serving a jail sentence.

Johnston was convicted of being unlawfully at large and was sentenced to time served, having spent 47 days on house arrest while on bail. 

Before handing down that sentence, provincial court Judge Harry van Harten asked if Johnston would consent to a medical treatment order where he would receive a COVID vaccination and be required to disclose that fact to his followers.

After a brief chat with his client, defence lawyer Ian McCuaig said Johnston would not consent to such an order. 

'Out of control'

Prosecutor Peter Mackenzie proposed Johnston spend 30 days in jail with no credit for the time spent on bail conditions but van Harten sided with McCuaig and released the former fugitive. 

In January, Johnston was arrested trying to cross the Saskatchewan border on foot into Montana in temperatures that were potentially deadly. 

He had skipped out on his final weekend in jail in Calgary.

That sentence was tied to two counts of contempt Johnston was found guilty on for what a Calgary judge described as "out of control" behaviour.

A leader in the pandemic-denying, anti-mask movement, Johnston incited followers to defy public health restrictions for months. 

He was handed a 40-day jail term to be served on weekends, the last four days of which he failed to show up for before heading for the border.

18-month Ontario sentence

Johnston has had numerous interactions with the justice system over the past few years. 

In September, Johnston pleaded guilty to a hate crime in Ontario for numerous anti-Muslim online posts in 2017.

Months earlier, Johnston pleaded guilty to criminal harassment for targeting an AHS employee who was tasked with enforcing public health measures. He posted photos of the woman and her family online and threatened to show up at her home. 

The same month, Johnston was also convicted of causing a disturbance at the Core shopping centre when he became belligerent with employees after being asked to wear a mask.

At the time of his pleas, Johnston had served about 10 weeks in jail, and with enhanced credit, prosecutors proposed and the judge accepted a time-served sentence.

In October, Johnston was handed an 18-month sentence for a conviction of civil contempt handed down after he continued to post racist, hateful statements about a Muslim restaurant owner in Toronto. 

Johnston never turned up to begin serving that sentence.

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