Like a lot of other places, Canada is no stranger to anti-Muslim crusaders who fancy themselves ready to lead their fellow citizens into political battle.
Johnston likely may have a better understanding today about just how much his ideas are worth.
In a decision released Monday, Ontario Superior Court Justice Jane Ferguson ordered him to pay a total of $2.5 million in damages for defamation to Mohamad Fakih, the founder and owner of a chain of Middle Eastern restaurants called Paramount Fine Foods.
In 2017 Johnston, who once had website called FreedomReport.ca,, and another man shot a series of videos outside a Paramount restaurant in Mississauga during a fundraising event for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The videos–posted online–showed Paramount’s facade and a doctored photograph of Fakih with blood on his hands.
Johnston called Fakih an “economic terrorist” backed by the Pakistani spy agency.
He also alleged the chain barred staff from admitting anyone who wasn’t a “jihadist.”
Justice Ferguson wrote that when served with notice of the defamation suit, Johnston doubled down on his claims in a series of new videos, describing Fakih as a “radical Muslim” who “hates white people.”
Tensions further escalated in April 2018, she wrote, when Johnston allegedly approached Fakih while he was at a Mississauga shopping mall with his children,
Johnston briefly posted the encounter to his online platforms.
Justice Ferguson said Johnston’s words amounted to hate speech that called for particularly strong condemnation from the court.
“In this fractious 21st century — where social media and the internet now allow some of the darkest forces in our society to achieve attention — (issues raised by the case) are numerous and profound, and their impact extends well beyond the borders of this country,” she wrote in her decision.
“Motivated by ignorance and a reckless regard for acceptable norms, the Johnston defendants’ behaviour reflects a contempt for Canada’s judicial process, an abuse of the very freedoms this country affords them and a loathsome example of hate speech at its worst.”
Justice Ferguson accepted Fakih’s contention that both his business interests and personal reputation were impacted by Johnston’s baseless claims and awarded Fakih damages based on his standing in the community, the seriousness of the defamatory statements, the extent of their publication, the lack of an apology from Johnston and the defendant’s conduct.
The other man who appeared in Johnston’s videos, Ron Banerjee, was originally named in the defamation suit.
The action against him was later dismissed after he issued an “unqualified apology” for his words and actions.
Following that ruling, Fakih donated $25,000 to an organization dedicated to monitoring and countering hate groups.
With files from CBC, CP, Global, CTV