TORONTO — Mohammed Fakih, owner of Paramount Fine Foods, has been awarded $2.5-million by an Ontario Superior Court judge after suing Kevin Johnston, an online-media personality, for hate speech, according to The Canadian Press.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Jane Ferguson ordered Johnston to pay the fine after determining that several incidents, including a series of videos featuring Islamophobic remarks, were cause for defamation, intimidation and hate speech.
Johnston claimed that Fakih was an “economic terrorist” with backing from a Pakistani spy agency in the videos shot back in 2017. At a fundraising event for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Johnston and another man reportedly tried to disrupt the proceedings and made a number of defamatory statements about Fakih and the restaurant where it was taking place. In another incident in April 2018, Johnston allegedly approached Fakih at a Mississauga shopping mall when he was with his children — aged four to 13.
“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,” Ferguson 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.”
Johnston has been ordered to remove or destroy any copy or reference to the content identified in the lawsuit, according to CityNews. He is also permanently restrained from coming within 100 metres of Fakih, his residence and his family.
Fakih, who founded Paramount Fine Foods in 2007, says the ruling is a significant victory over racism and hate speech.