On day he was to start Ontario jail sentence hate-broadcasting podcaster arrested trying to cross U.S. border. Kevin Johnston was arrested while trying to cross the border on foot, authorities said
A failed politician who an Ontario court said was broadcasting hate speech online, and who was supposed to begin serving an 18-month jail sentence for contempt, was arrested Tuesday morning trying to cross the border into Montana from Saskatchewan.
Kevin Johnston, whose contempt sentence stemmed from his refusal to abide by a judge’s order to stop defaming a Mississauga restaurateur and to pay him damages, is now being held in Plentywood, Mont.
He was arrested by U.S. Border Patrol agents while trying to cross the border on foot, police in Calgary confirmed Tuesday.
Johnston — who had run for mayor in Calgary, last year, and in Mississauga in 2014 and 2018 — was sentenced Oct. 4 and had been supposed to report to begin his sentence in Ontario on Tuesday, after finishing another one for civil contempt in Alberta.
In 2019, he was ordered to stop making defamatory statements about Mohamad Fakih and ordered to pay $2.5 million in damages. He had not paid at the time of his October sentencing and had continued to defame Fakih.
In the 2019 summary judgement, Ontario Superior Court Justice Jane E. Ferguson called Johnston’s behaviour “a loathsome example of hate speech at its worst, targeting people solely because of their religion.”
In videos posted between 2017 and 2019 Johnston accused Fakih’s restaurant chain, Paramount Fine Foods, of being a “front” and said anyone entering them must be a “jihadist.” The videos also ran with an altered photograph of Fakih that depicted him with blood on his hands and face.
Johnston had just finished 40 days’ jail time served on weekends for violating court orders in another court case involving defamatory statements against Alberta Health Services.
Two explosive-laden drones were shot down on Tuesday by Iraq’s air defenses as they approached the Ain al-Asad air base, which hosts U.S. forces, west of Baghdad, an official of the U.S.-led international military coalition said.
U.S. officials in recent weeks had warned that they expected an uptick in attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria, in part because of the second anniversary of the killing of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.
A similar attack was foiled on Monday, when Iraqi air defenses downed two drones as they approached a base hosting U.S. forces near Baghdad’s international airport.
Separately, another coalition official told Reuters that the coalition had carried out strikes against an “imminent threat” after they saw several rocket launch sites near the Green Village in Syria.
While this official did not say which country in the coalition carried out the strikes or who was responsible for the launch sites, Iranian-backed militia forces have occasionally targeted U.S. forces in both Iraq and Syria.
In Washington, the Pentagon said the coalition strikes in Syria were not carried out by aircraft, but did not provide more details on the threat.
“I’m not in a position now to get into specific attribution. That said, we continue to see threats against our forces in Iraq and Syria by militia groups that are backed by Iran,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters.
Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corp outsold General Motors Co in the United States in 2021, marking the first time the Detroit automaker has not led U.S. auto sales for a full year since 1931.
Toyota sold 2.332 million vehicles in the United States in 2021, compared to 2.218 million for General Motors, the automakers said Tuesday. GM’s U.S. sales were down 13 per cent for 2021 — and down 43 per cent in the fourth quarter — while Toyota was up 10 per cent for the year.
For all of 2020, GM’s U.S. sales totaled 2.55 million, compared with Toyota’s 2.11 million and Ford Motor Co’s 2.04 million.
The year has been marred by a shortage of semiconductors used heavily in vehicles, forcing automakers to focus on their most profitable models.
GM said Tuesday it expects U.S. economic growth will boost U.S. total light-duty vehicle industry sales from around 15 million in 2021 to around 16 million in 2022.
The automakers are reporting full-year 2021 U.S. sales results on Tuesday. GM has been the largest seller of vehicles in the United States since 1931, when it surpassed Ford, according to data from industry publication Automotive News .
Toyota is not boasting about the accomplishment. Senior Vice President Jack Hollis said in a statement that the automaker is “grateful” for its loyal customers, but “being No. 1 is never a focus or priority.”
GM spokesman Jim Cain said the Detroit automaker had a very strong sales year in the United States in full-size SUVs and pickup trucks as it has focused on profitability, and as the supply of semiconductors improves, so will sales.
“I wouldn’t rush out if I were (Toyota), and get a ‘We’re No. 1’ tattoo,” he said.
GM under Chief Executive Mary Barra also has emphasized profitability over volume, abandoning such money-losing markets as Europe and Russia.
For the entire industry, Cox Automotive forecast U.S. new vehicle sales will be down 32 per cent in December over December 2020 — the slowest pace since May 2020, when the country remained mostly closed during the first wave of the COVID pandemic.
Industry analysts forecast around 15 million vehicles sold for all of 2021 in the United States. U.S. vehicle sales will remain well below the five-year average of 17.3 million from 2015-2019.
IHS Markit forecasts U.S. sales are expected to reach nearly 15.5 million in 2022, up an estimated 2.6 per cent from the projected 2021 level of approximately 15.1 million vehicles.
Auto buyers have seen prices jump dramatically. Edmunds said average transaction prices for new vehicles hit another new record in November at $45,872 – compared with $39,984 in November 2020. Edmunds also forecast used vehicle prices will surpass the $30,000 mark for the first time in 2022.
IHS Markit forecast worldwide new light vehicle sales of nearly 82.4 million in 2022, up 3.7 per cent, while 2021 sales are expected to be up just 2.9 per cent globally from 2020.
Kishida not going to U.S Australia for summit talks. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Tuesday he has given up on visiting the United States and Australia for in-person summit talks before the start of a regular parliamentary session in mid-January and will focus on the COVID-19 response at home instead.
Kishida said he had been seeking to meet with U.S. President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison as he aims to step up summit diplomacy this year.
“In light of the domestic and overseas spread of the novel coronavirus, I have decided not to make overseas trips before the regular Diet session this month,” Kishida said in his New Year press conference.
Kishida’s meetings with the two leaders have been in focus as he seeks to enhance the bilateral alliance with the United States and has voiced eagerness to conclude the Japan-Australia Reciprocal Access Agreement.
The pact would enhance interoperability and collaboration between the armed forces of both countries amid China’s growing military influence in Asia.