Kevin Johnston, a one-time candidate for mayor of Mississauga, has been ordered to pay the owner of Paramount Fine Foods, Mohamad Fakih, damages of $2.5 million for a calculated campaign of hatred against the businessman. The award was rendered Monday by Ontario Superior Court Justice Jane Ferguson. The hurt caused by Johnston’s anti-Islamic video and writings were found damaging both to Mr. Fakih and to Paramount, a chain of Middle Eastern restaurants in the Greater Toronto Area which Fakih founded. The offending material was posted on Johnston’s so-called Freedom Report, starting in July 2017. Johnston lost to Mayor Bonnie Crombie in the October election, placing second with 13.5 per cent of the vote. He was charged in 2017 with offering a $1,000 reward in exchange for videos of Muslim students praying in schools. He, his website, and Ron Banerjee were named as defendants in Fakih’s original lawsuit, filed August 4, 2017.
In the videos, shot in 2017, Johnston made a series of incendiary statements including a claim Fakih was an “economic terrorist” with backing from the Pakistani spy agency. He alleged restaurant policy barred staff from admitting anyone who wasn’t a “jihadist.” Evidence was also presented that Johnston confronted Fakih and his family, including four children, in public. Ferguson says 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 released Monday. CityNews