Pandemic-denying mayoral candidate Kevin J. Johnston's jail sentence delayed because of COVID-19 case surge
Calgary resident was supposed to start serving 40 days in jail on weekends last Friday
Calgary mayoral candidate Kevin J. Johnston doesn't believe in the pandemic, doesn't believe in masking and doesn't care how many people gather in a small indoor space, but he won't start serving his sentence for another five weeks because Alberta's surge in COVID-19 cases is making the jails unsafe.
Alberta's unrelenting fourth wave of COVID-19 is "pounding the snot out of Albertans," said Court of Queen's Bench Justice Adam Germain after proposing Johnston's contempt sentence be delayed by five weeks.
Johnston was convicted of two counts of contempt in July after spending months inciting his followers to defy public health measures.
He was sentenced to 40 days in jail to be served on weekends starting last Friday, but that morning, Germain proposed a start date of Oct. 22, four days after Calgary's municipal election.
Having Johnston going in and out of the Calgary Remand Centre every week would present a health and safety issue for him and other inmates, said Germain, who has been tasked with handling all contempt cases for restriction-rule breakers.
On Friday, the latest numbers showed Alberta had more than 2,000 new COVID cases over a 24-hour period.
ICU admissions are well over 100 per cent of designated capacity and the premier has warned the province could run out of staffed intensive care beds in the next week.
The Alberta Children's Hospital has reduced surgeries by 75 per cent to contend with the surge of COVID patients in ICU.
Johnston harassed, threatened AHS inspector
Less than a year ago, Johnston moved from Toronto to Calgary so he could run for mayor and became a leader in the anti-mask, pandemic-denial movement.
Johnston is awaiting two separate sentencing hearings in Ontario after being convicted of a hate crime and contempt in that province.
He is also facing an assault trial in B.C. later this year.
In May and June, Johnston spent the equivalent of seven weeks in jail for harassing and threatening an Alberta Health Services inspector as well as causing a disturbance at a downtown Calgary shopping mall when he berated shop staff who demanded he wear a mask.
After Johnston targeted a Muslim restaurant owner in 2019, a judge ruled in favour of the Toronto businessman, awarding him $2.5 million in a defamation lawsuit. The judge said Johnston's remarks were a "loathsome example of hate speech at its worst."
In Calgary, mayoral candidates who are convicted of crimes can still run for mayor as long as they don't owe the city money and haven't broken any elections laws.