By Griffin Cullen-Norris
Given the tumultuous time the residents of the United States have been experiencing, many Canadians feel grateful for living on the northern side of the border. A fair few Americans might be envious of them as well. But there is one Canadian who desperately wants to flee south to the United States. His name is Kevin J. Johnston, and he’s a wanted man in two provinces.
At fifty years of age, Johnston has led a life that, if nothing else, has been eventful. He’s an author, entrepreneur, podcaster, crypto-currency expert, and self-described as Canada’s most censored man. If you live in Calgary, you may have seen his name on the ballot for the 2021 mayoral election, where he finished ninth, bringing in 1,565 votes. Johnston’s dismal turnout might well have resulted from his antics when not running for public office.
He brewed one such controversy when his coffee company, Kevin Johnston’s Coffee Co., created the “Wasted Native” coffee line. The logo sports a stereotyped caricature of an intoxicated Chief Wahoo. The coffee’s slogan reads “FORGET GAS. HUFF THIS!” and is advertised as being a fully organic, fair trade product, packaged without plastic containers (though Johnston added that “Climate Change is A HOAX” on the advertisement, reassuring his buyers that their caffeine doesn’t skew to the left).
Johnston doesn’t limit his political opinions to coffee-related exploits however. He has extensive interests in political activism. Lately, he has taken issue with various COVID-19 safety measures; To date, he has broken three court orders to follow public health measures and wear a mask. As a result, Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Adam Germain sentenced him to forty days of jail time, to be served on weekends. Dave’s Nofrills in Dawson’s Creek, B.C. experienced Johnston’s activism when he got into a physical altercation with one of the store’s employees over wearing a mask. Meanwhile, Ontario authorities want him incarcerated for eighteen months for repeated use of hate speech, such as when he called Mohamad Fakih, founder of the Paramount Fine Foods restaurant chain, “a terrorist”.
In the face of this opposition, Johnston has found some acceptance over the years. Notable supporters and collaborators include the Jewish Defense League and the director of its Canadian branch Meir Weinstein, as well as Rebels News commentator and Proud Boy David Menzies. They all appeared together at an event on July 30th, 2017, at the Toronto Zionist Centre to oppose accusations of bigotry being leveled against Johnston.
He has paid a hefty price for his convictions. He owes $2,500,000 in fines towards Mr. Fakih for defamation, and Alberta Health Services filed a $1,300,000 lawsuit over threats he uttered against their employees. Such pressure proved intolerable for Johnston.
In a bid to escape his local problems, Johnston enlisted April LaJune, an American member of the “sovereign citizen” movement, in order to help him sneak across the border from Saskatchewan to Montana. Finding LaJune’s efforts to smuggle him over south to be too slow Johnston set out on his own. For fifteen hours, he braved negative 29-degree Celsius weather without the aid of a flashlight or a thermal blanket to keep him warm. His compass used an app downloaded on his phone, a solution which quickly proved useless when his cell service became unreliable. Fearing for Johnston’s life, LaJune contacted the local border patrol to rescue him, using a photo he sent her as a reference for pinpointing his location. The authorities promptly arrested him on January fourth, and he has been transported by the RCMP to Saskatchewan for holding.
Now that the notorious outlaw has been apprehended, it seems inevitable that the full force of the law will be brought down upon him. But Johnston’s legal aid, Ian McQuaig, is more optimistic. He is currently making calls to the case’s prosecutor, Peter Mackenzie, hoping to secure a release on bail or a resolution for his charges. Whether McQuaig’s arguments prove convincing remains to be seen. What is certain is that more will be heard from Johnston in this ongoing case of this well-traveled covid skeptic.