By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, March 10, 2013 - 0 Comments
Ezra Levant, the carnival barker of the conservative movement in Canada and the foremost heel to Canadian progressives, was trying to explain the problem with environmentalism.
“I have no problem with treating the environment on an issue by issue basis: we’ve got to fix this or solve that,” he said. “But environmentalism is a philosophy, like most words ending with ism. Socialism, communism… hinduism, it’s a faith. And so the question is if your true ideology is conservatism or libertarianism, and you also think you can be an environmentalism person, you may have a conflict there.” Continue…
By Emma Teitel - Friday, February 1, 2013 at 12:54 PM - 0 Comments
Have you heard? Free speech is a thing of the past. And religious liberty is dying fast.
It began last week when Arun Smith, a seventh-year human rights student at Carleton University in Ottawa, tore down a “free speech wall” on campus because it featured socially conservative comments. The action inspired three National Post columns and an Ezra Levant exclusive lamenting the end of freedom of expression as we know it.
Elsewhere, on the religious liberty front, the Canadian Council of Law Deans wrote a letter of protest to Canada’s Federation of Law Societies about Trinity Western University. The Christian liberal arts school in British Columbia wants to open a law school that would require students to sign a Community Covenant Agreement that pledges “Healthy Sexuality.” The agreement has nothing to do with gonorrhea or how to avoid it: what’s to be avoided is love and sex between people of the same gender (which is, I guess, by Trinity Western’s standards, worse than gonorrhea). “Sexual intimacy,” says the covenant, “is reserved for marriage between one man and one woman.” In other words, gays need not apply.
In a bizarre twist, one of Trinity Western’s champions is the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, whose double-speak on this issue would confound George Orwell himself. From the Vancouver Sun:
“Despite TWU’s ban on homosexual relationships and sex outside marriage, Lyster [British Columbia Civil Liberties Association president Lindsay Lyster] also defended the evangelical school’s approach to academic freedom — saying secular universities often impose restrictions on free thought, including in regards to religious perspectives.”
Lyster’s concern, I suspect, is the same kind shared by Rex Murphy and Ezra Levant when they lament the end of free speech at Carleton University. There’s no denying most secular liberal arts schools are left-leaning, but do they really “impose restrictions on free thought and religious perspectives” draconian enough to match the injustice of Trinity Western’s ban on homosexuality?
Secular schools are by and large socially liberal, yes, but the mere presence of seventh-year human rights students and atheist professors in blue jeans does not equal discriminatory policy against socially conservative, religious students. Nor does the overwhelming presence of socially liberal thought prohibit social conservatism. Telling gays they are going to hell probably won’t make you valedictorian, but there is no rule against doing so. Arun Smith ripped down the “free speech wall” because written on it, among other things, was “Traditional marriage is awesome,” and “Abortion is murder.” He was wrong to do so. But the fact remains: he was punished. The students who wrote the conservative comments were not. As for the free speech wall? There is a new one in its place.
Freedom of expression: 1.
Arun Smith: 0.
Free speech dead? Apparently not.
Socially conservative students may find that in a modern university classroom, they’re uncomfortable stating their views on the civil rights of gays and lesbians (possibly that they shouldn’t have any), but that doesn’t mean they’re not allowed to. However, your right to speak freely doesn’t negate someone else’s right to tell you to stop talking. And asking that you do so because your argument has no place in an institution of higher learning, or in a court of law (my right to marry my girlfriend is no longer a valid debate topic, nor is it any of your business) is not a letter of expulsion.
Echoing the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, Barbara Kay writes in the National Post that secular law schools are breeding grounds of their own a-religious philosophies; prone to different but equal prejudice. Here she is below:
“So although white Christian students of European descent don’t actually have to sign a Covenant attesting to their original sin of white or male privilege when they sign up for law school, they may as well have had to, considering what they will be taught once they’re in, and the way they’ll be treated if they dissent from the critical race theory or feminist line. Unlike gays, who have their pick of law schools that cater to minority sensibilities, those who reject the Marxist-based faith governing most law schools in the West are forced to submit to their tenets.”
Let’s assume for a moment Kay is correct: Canadian law school is a three-year pinko party to which all would-be gay law students aspire. And one at which all socially conservative law students feel out of place.
That she can even allude to the isolation of socially conservative students on secular campuses proves my point precisely. They are allowed on secular campuses. They don’t have to sign a covenant. They may not Take Back the Night, or Occupy Bay Street, but nobody’s stopping them from going to school. More on point, their rights to rant and lobby against my rights does not bar them from enrolling in a secular institution. But my right to be myself would bar me from enrolling in theirs.
So let’s be clear. We are not dealing with equal prejudices. One is far more insidious. Secular law schools, no matter how annoyingly liberal, do not have the power to expel socially conservative, religious students simply because they are socially conservative and religious. Trinity Western University’s law school, on the other hand, would have the power to expel gays because they are gay.
Social conservatives of this ilk are not defenders of liberty. They are its thieves.
By Jonathon Gatehouse - Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 6:20 AM - 0 Comments
A profile of the right-wing gadfly who loves to offend
Ezra Levant is retelling his favourite story: the one where he’s the hero. However, the hour-long monologue about the plucky kid from Alberta who dares to speak truth to power is really more of a dramatic performance. Pacing the stage of a community theatre north of Toronto, the 40-year-old broadcaster, author and columnist darts and cringes, waving his arms and pulling faces as he unspools a tale of fascist clerics, zombie bureaucrats and holy free-speech warriors. Levant’s version of his battle with the Alberta Human Rights Commission over his 2006 decision to publish controversial drawings of the Prophet Muhammad in his now-defunct Western Standard magazine is epic stuff, filled with references to his “ordeal,” “interrogation” and “900-day trial.” And more than enough broadsides to satisfy an audience of 200 who have paid $25 per grey head to hear the closest thing that Canada has to Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh lecture on “Political correctness and the rise of Islamism.”
“I showed the cartoons like a prosecutor would present evidence, so people could make up their own minds. We’re all adults in this country,” he proclaims, voice rising to an excited register that makes him sound uncannily like Shaggy from Scooby Doo. But somehow, he says, that was all lost on the Calgary imam, who took offence to seeing the founder of his religion depicted wearing a bomb as a turban, and filed a formal complaint. “He was madrasa-educated. He came from Pakistan, with those medieval values, those censorship values, those burn-it-down values.” Continue…
By Paul Wells - Sunday, October 28, 2012 at 7:50 AM - 0 Comments
A ‘Gypsy’ jazz man on why so many of his people flee to Canada
More than a thousand spectators packed Koerner Hall, the opulent concert theatre on Bloor Street in Toronto, for Robi Botos’ birthday concert earlier this month. Botos was turning 34. When he came onstage the audience broke into a raggedy chorus of Happy Birthday. Botos wheeled around on his heel and bent over the piano keyboard so he could accompany the last line of the song with a bluesy phrase. “What key was that in, Robi?” somebody shouted from the back of the hall. “D flat,” he said. Perfect pitch.
There followed three hours of extraordinary jazz. Botos was born in 1978 in Nyiregyhaza, Hungary. Since he moved to Toronto 14 years ago he has become one of the city’s most prominent musicians. His guests for the concert’s second half included the great saxophonist Branford Marsalis and the drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts, two of the most demanding musicians in the world. Before the first tune was half done, Watts was leaning forward over his drum kit, his eyes locked on Botos’, a wide and satisfied smile on his face. I can do business with this guy, the smile said. The music sounded like a freight train.
But there was a special spirit about the concert’s first half, when Botos played with members of his family: his father Lajos Botos Sr. on drums, brother Lajos Jr. on bass and first cousin Jozsef on guitar. Here the music was more casual, often based on folk themes. Robi Botos, who befriended Oscar Peterson before Peterson died, often played in ways that specifically recalled Peterson: the way he tapped his foot, the way he dropped his right hand onto the keyboard from high altitude to kick off long phrases. I’ve been hearing about him for years, but this concert gave me a chance to confirm for myself that Robi Botos is a tremendous jazz pianist. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, July 20, 2012 at 12:20 PM - 0 Comments
Three months after first receiving Omar Khadr’s application to return to Canada—and 21 months after the Harper government assured the American government that it was inclined to look favourably upon such an application—Public Safety Minister Vic Toews says he needs more information.
In a formal letter sent Thursday to both U.S. defence secretary Leon Panetta and Khadr’s Toronto lawyer, John Norris, Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews states that in order to have Khadr sent back to serve the remainder of his sentence in Canada, officials north of the boarder must be given access to sealed video footage of separate interviews with Khadr that were carried out by two psychiatrists during the lead-up to Khadr’s trial in 2010.
Toews also stated complete reports from Dr. Michael Welner and Dr. Alan Hopewell have not been supplied to Correctional Service of Canada and the parole board, and that both are required to administer Khadr’s sentence in Canada, according to sources familiar with the letter.
As Jonathan Kay notes, there are questions about the involvement of Dr. Welner in this case. Reg Whitaker’s review of Ezra Levant’s book on Omar Khadr is here. Ezra Levant’s response to Whitaker’s review is here. More on Dr. Welner’s testimony here, here, here, here and here.
The CBC recently interviewed both Dr. Welner, who worked for the prosecution in Mr. Khadr’s case, and Dr. Stephen Xenakis, who worked for the defence.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, July 19, 2012 at 2:20 PM - 0 Comments
The Vatican’s whistle-blower, Katy Perry’s lingerie hazard and yet another gaffe from Tony Clement
Pray for deliverance
The old saw that “no man is a hero to his valet” would seem to apply to Paolo Gabriele, the butler to Pope Benedict XVI, who appears to have serious doubts about the Vatican’s business dealings, if not about the pontiff himself. Gabriele is locked in a 3.5-by-four-metre police “safe room,” accused of stealing and leaking documents to Italian media that expose dubious dealings by the Vatican bank, rivalries among cardinals, and alleged corruption. A prosecutor refused his request to be moved to house arrest while the investigation continues, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told reporters. “Paolo is serene and finds comfort in prayer,” Gabriele’s lawyer, Paolo Fusco said. He is already charged with aggravated theft. Offences such as revealing state secrets are under consideration.
And 99 per cent rat-free
After a sale fell through on a “lovely little home” on Douglas Avenue in St. John, N.B., real estate agent Jake Palmer faced the challenge of reintroducing it to the market. With the agreement of the owners, he attached a “rider” sign under his ReMax lawn sign reading “indoor plumbing.” That drew attention and chuckles, so Palmer upped the ante with a rider that said: “not haunted.” The stunt went viral online. “The truth will disappoint those of you hoping that the house had recently undergone an exorcism or deliverance,” said the website Extraordinary Intelligence. Sorry, never was haunted, said Palmer, who just hopes the next buyer doesn’t dematerialize.
By Charlie Gillis - Tuesday, June 19, 2012 at 5:00 AM - 0 Comments
Five years, two tribunals, secret hearings, a court challenge and a turning point
For all the passion it stirred, you’d think it would get a noisier send-off. An ovation, maybe. Or tears. Instead, Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act slipped quietly beneath the waves last week during a night-time sitting of the House of Commons—victim of a private member’s bill and a trailer load of toxic publicity. Brian Storseth, Conservative MP for Westlock-St. Paul, had glanced anxiously around the chamber as his kill bill went through its third reading. “The benches weren’t full,” he recalls. “That always makes for a bit of extra heart pumping.”
Justice Minister Rob Nicholson had voiced support for the legislation. So had the Prime Minister. The result, then, was never in doubt: at 9:35 p.m. on June 6, by a vote of 153-136, Parliament got Canada’s human rights bureaucrats out of the business of policing speech on the Internet. There was a scattering of applause, and handshakes for Storseth (the bill requires the rubber stamp of Senate approval). “To be honest, it’s all a blur,” says the three-term MP, laughing. But if the passage of Bill C-304 represents a fundamental shift in Canadian culture, you’d never have known it that night. Members dealt with a few housekeeping matters, then waded through a supply bill. Finally, one by one, they trickled out into the cool Ottawa night.
The effect of killing Section 13 will be debated for years among anti-racist groups and civil libertarians. But it is undoubtedly a turning point. Since 1999, Canadians who felt aggrieved by material transmitted online have been encouraged to seek redress under federal human rights law, which targeted material “likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt” based on grounds of discrimination like race, religion or sexual orientation. Storseth’s bill repeals the provision outright, leaving the Criminal Code as the primary bulwark against the dissemination of hate propaganda by electronic means.
By John Geddes - Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 7:01 PM - 17 Comments
It’s was fun watching the contest that Samara and the Writer’s Trust of Canada held to anoint the best Canadian political book of the past 25 years. The winner announced yesterday—selected by the gold-standard method of online voting—is Ezra Levant’s Shakedown: How Our Government is Undermining Democracy in the Name of Human Rights, which I haven’t gotten around to but I gather is about how our government is undermining democracy in the name of human rights.
No offence to fans of Shakedown (or any of the other finalists in the contest, which spotlighted some superb books), but when I scanned down the short list, something seemed to be missing. Not fine writing —Ron Graham’s One-Eyed Kings, for example, provides plenty of that. Not polemical verve—Andrew Cohen’s While Canada Slept is your ticket there. Not journalistic timeliness and historical insight—other books in the running offered these virtues.
By Jaime Weinman - Monday, May 9, 2011 at 9:10 AM - 24 Comments
If Sun News hopes to compete with Fox, it needs to up its production values
Sun News Network expected to be attacked for its politics—not its professionalism. But the reviews of the conservative-leaning news channel have pointed out that it looks amateurish: “The sets and lighting are Spartan,” wrote Brad Oswald of the Winnipeg Free Press; Globe and Mail critic John Doyle called it “cheap, cheesy, terrible television.” That’s not a charge often levelled at Sun’s U.S. model, Fox News, whose high production values are acknowledged even by people who hate it. If Sun has trouble looking classy, it has nothing to do with the rather modest short skirts and sleeveless dresses; it may be because of the unexciting scenes behind them.
The hyper-patriotic Sun turned to the Toronto-based AKA Creative Group to design the sets. Andrew Kinsella, AKA’s president, feels they created “a style that Canadians have never seen before,” but adds that it would be “a lot more expensive to work with the big-name [design] competitors south of the border.” But on screen, the American competitors sometimes look more spectacular. Ezra Levant’s The Source is modelled on Glenn Beck’s soon-to-be-cancelled Fox show; it has the host do wacky conservative things like destroy a bush to show his contempt for Earth Day. But Beck’s program has an elaborate set and there’s creative use of camera angles and lighting. Levant’s set, dominated by two fairly small TV screens with his name on them, looks much more low-tech. And like many of the Sun shows, the backgrounds are often monolithically blue, which can give news shows a feeling of sameness: U.S. set designer Jim Fenhagen, who designed shows like ABC World News Tonight, hasn’t seen Sun but told Maclean’s that as a general rule, “doing blue sets is pretty old-fashioned now.”
While some Sun programs make good use of space—Kinsella is proud of the main news hub, with a “retractable rear-projection screen as well as flexibility for the host to move freely from one area to another”—others don’t look much more big-budget than the average local newscast. Some of the daytime shows feature the familiar sight of announcers at a desk with a drab-looking newsroom in the background, the kind of thing Fenhagen tried to avoid when he created the newsroom set for ABC: “Usually the main shot is all the people back there and you can’t get rid of them, which I think is a mistake.” Conservative TV host Michael Coren, who has appeared as a guest on Sun, considers the overall look “sharp and modern” but added that “because of the number of linked interviews with guests around the country, there is always going to be a certain limitation to the overall look.” But those limitations may mean the Sun hosts can’t compete with a Fox personality like Megyn Kelly, the network’s aggressively blond daytime star, who yells at guests against a stylish background of glass, metal and flickering screens.
By Nancy MacDonald, Julia Belluz and staff - Tuesday, April 26, 2011 at 9:10 AM - 0 Comments
Madonna’s newest epiphany, Stephen Harper’s women problem, and signs of sanity from Jan Brewer
Harper: Monarchy is a man’s job
Queen Elizabeth II only came to the throne because she had no brothers, and Prince William and Kate Middleton’s first son will leapfrog any older sisters to become king, thanks to a 300-year-old act. Now Britain’s deputy PM, Nick Clegg, wants to reform the law. The move requires the agreement of Commonwealth countries directly affected. New Zealand’s PM, John Key, supports the change. Not Stephen Harper: “The successor to the throne is a man,” he said this week. “The next successor to the throne is a man. I don’t think Canadians want to open a debate on the monarchy…at this time.” It’s the same unerring instinct that’s characterized the treatment of female Tory cabinet ministers—think Lisa Raitt, Helena Guergis—and which observers say has limited Harper’s appeal among female voters. Good man, Mr. Harper, good man.
A rapidly Freying narrative
Bestselling Three Cups of Tea author Greg Mortenson is facing buckets of bad press following a 60 Minutes report that questioned his work with his charity, the Central Asia Institute (CAI), for schools in remote Pakistan and Afghanistan. It alleged some schools don’t exist, or haven’t received support from CAI, and that Mortenson uses the charity as a “private ATM machine.” Then there are allegations Mortenson was never kidnapped by the Taliban in Waziristan, as he wrote. Mansur Khan Mahsud told The Daily Beast he played host to Mortenson in Waziristan and was shocked to get a call from Into Thin Air author Jon Krakauer (a former Mortenson supporter) telling him the author had described the experience as a kidnapping. Mortenson’s publisher is investigating.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, March 11, 2011 at 1:34 PM - 71 Comments
Human Resources Minister Diane Finley wants a federal employee in Brampton disciplined for sending an insulting email from his government account to a Sun columnist (who, it is probably necessary to note, volunteered for the Conservative campaign in 2008).
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, January 11, 2011 at 2:07 PM - 64 Comments
First, a correction. The list of oil sources posted here should have read: Algeria, the United Kingdom, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Angola, Iraq, Mexico, Venezuela, Russia and the United States. You’ll note that, in the original post, Iran was listed where Angola should have been. My apologies to to the good people of Angola.
Meanwhile, Ezra Levant, seemingly the inspiration for the government’s new rhetoric, continues to draw a line between good oil and bad oil: the former including our crude, the latter including crude from suppliers such as Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Venezuela, Algeria. In total, those four nations account for about 40% of our oil imports.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, January 7, 2011 at 5:32 PM - 188 Comments
The Environment Minister observed yesterday (around the 12-minute mark of that interview) that Canada is a supplier of ethical oil—a phrase recently employed by Ezra Levant—because the revenues derived from that oil are not used to “fund terrorism or the destabilization of other governments.” This may or may not beg questions about the origins of our own oil imports.
The latest release of Statistics Canada’s Energy Statistics Handbook lists our sources of crude oil and equivalents going back to 1989. Our noted individual sources in 2010 (through September) were, in order: Algeria, the United Kingdom, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Iran, Iraq, Mexico, Venezuela, Russia and the United States.
By Martin Patriquin - Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 9:20 AM - 0 Comments
Can the Réseau Liberté-Québec unite conservatives in the province and get past the sovereignty debate?
There are many places in the country where a self-described “Jewish redneck from Calgary” would get a standing ovation for preaching his liberal-baiting, small-government, pro-oil-sands gospel. Conventional wisdom suggests that Quebec, home to powerful unions and subsidized daycare, isn’t one of them.
Yet, there was conservative commentator, author and cheery scourge of the left Ezra Levant in front of an overflow crowd at a Quebec City hotel last weekend, deriding government intervention and touting the wonders of Alberta’s oily bounty—in English, no less—and winning roars of approval.
The people behind Réseau Liberté-Québec were ebullient. The RLQ, which calls itself a “citizens’ movement” and not a political party, managed to bring together a fair chunk of the province’s fractured conservative movement in one place, attract considerable media attention, and even draw the ire of a few token lefties, who delivered a load of horse manure to the hotel steps earlier in the day. “Quebec’s right is more and more ardent, tenacious, resilient and credible,” whooped RLQ co-founder Joanne Marcotte in a speech.
By Colby Cosh - Friday, March 26, 2010 at 2:00 AM - 375 Comments
At the Red and White Club on the grounds of Calgary’s McMahon Stadium tonight, more than 900 attendees gave Ann Coulter a remarkable, thunderous ovation. But they cheered, I would almost swear, with even greater volume for Ezra Levant, co-organizer of Coulter’s tour. I’m a friend of Ezra’s, but I had never seen him speak on home turf before. The love was palpable and astonishing. I suppose he is part of the city’s image, the legend it tells of itself, at this point.
And—chalk this up to bias if you like—he gives a heck of a speech. The stubbornest Stalinist alive would have been stirred by his fierce defence of strong free-speech norms as a social truce in which all have a stake. He made a particular point of noting that women, ethnic minorities, and gays and lesbians would never have attained civil rights if they had waited around for the Establishment to endow them out of the goodness of its heart. They could not have won an open power struggle; they had to engage in persuasive speech that, at first, offended contemporary sensibilities. Is it cynical and manipulative for Ezra to go into that territory? Maybe a little. But is what he says true and relevant? Indubitably.
The component of Ezra’s introduction for Coulter that rang a little false was the civic self-congratulation. “This is Calgary, not Ottawa,” he bellowed, inducing positively demented applause. “We’re interested in a diversity of ideas, debated vigorously and freely. Places like the University of Ottawa talk about diversity, but they don’t actually mean it, do they?” The fact is, Calgary’s anti-everything left managed a pretty good turnout, perhaps fifty strong, and they did no less to try to interrupt and drown out Coulter’s talk, and perhaps more on the whole, than the U of Ottawa students. But they faced a much tougher tactical situation: a free-standing, isolated venue on a hillside, virtually a fortress; crowd-control gates and wooden barricades on the exterior; and a whole squadron of bicycle and foot police, perhaps upwards of a dozen.
Uncowed, the antis attempted to rush the main doors of the building as Ezra was winding up his intro, spiderwebbing the glass with boot damage, and they battered the exterior windows of the club throughout Coulter’s main talk. Tomorrow morning’s news story may be “Calgary gets right what Ottawa could not”; I wonder, however, how things would have looked if Coulter had visited Calgary first and caught the Cowtown police less well-prepared.
(Incidentally, a pro-tip for the two guys who tried to dress as Klansmen: real KKK outfits have separate hoods. If you go for the one-piece look, you are not a scary symbol of race hatred: you are a scary symbol of the laziness of six-year-olds at Halloween.)
Eventually She came out. I paid little attention (and some of you will be relieved to hear it) to Coulter’s litany of familiar one-liners; I’m not sure anyone paid the words much heed, including Ann Coulter herself. As the thrumming of the protest outside grew louder and began to be punctuated with blows and crashes, she made sure to keep one eye in the direction of the stairway, doubtless ready to make a hasty exit behind the curtain at any moment. The atmosphere of danger, and her consciousness of it, made her seem curiously vulnerable, even as she vaporized hostile interlocutors in the Q&A session. Coulter, if you’re wondering, and you are, is more attractive in person than on camera. She is thus something of a contrast, in this regard, to Sarah Palin. (Meow!) Dame’s not my type, but you find out the second you write about Ann Coulter that she has many open admirers, and a LOT more haters who are unadmitted admirers―unadmitted perhaps even to themselves.
She really is a gifted comic. It was unfortunate that she didn’t bring Calgary new material, but this was a case where the medium truly was the message. During the Q&A, a young female U of Calgary student stood to say that there are “Jesus Was a Muslim” signs all over campus and she isn’t sure how she should react. Coulter, with a simple “Huh” and a nonplussed look, had the room in stitches.
Still, the more interesting action was outside all night―and I don’t mean the rioting, but the small-group discussions amongst smokers, latecomers who couldn’t get in, curious U of C campus-dwellers, and stray protesters. Here, on the grass, ordinary people talked sincerely to each other without punchlines or slogans or sneering. They seemed to be a different species altogether from the formidable, mantis-like Coulter and her mesmerizing blonde mane.
By Colby Cosh - Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 11:38 PM - 296 Comments
Ezra Levant, who was present at the venue for tonight’s aborted Ann Coulter talk at the University of Ottawa, spotted my quickie weblog entry about the cancelled event and had me chat briefly with the leggy agitator. Coulter tells Maclean’s she never had the chance to move on from a private dinner reception at which she was signing books, meeting local conservatives, and waiting for the all-clear from her bodyguard, who was on the scene at the university. “I was just reviewing my speech. It was a fine little speech, and by the way, I cut it down so we could have an extensive question-and-answer period. I gathered that I was going to have a very exciting crowd tonight.”
The police, Coulter says, “had been warning my bodyguard all day that they were putting up [messages] on Facebook: ‘Bring rocks, bring sticks, you gotta hurt Ann Coulter tonight, don’t let her speak.’ And the cops eventually said, we’ve got a bad feeling, this isn’t gonna happen. And they shut it down.”
Coulter agrees with the suggestion that conservative speakers face greater dangers and nuisances in trying to encounter audiences on university campuses. “I speak at a lot of college campuses and I need a bodyguard… Michael Moore does not; Judy Rebick does not. I think Mahmoud Ahmadinejad could have spoken tonight with less controversy.” She dismisses the possibility, however, that things are ever likely to change. “Unfortunately, conservatives are too polite, so they will never get a taste of their own medicine in that regard, in terms of angry mobs with sticks and rocks.”
She accuses the University of Ottawa’s academic vice-president, Francois Houle, of “inspiring hatred” toward her with his epistolary warning to her that she needed to be conscious of Canada’s criminal prohibitions of hate speech. Indeed, she says she intends, with Levant’s help, to ask police to proceed with exactly the same charges against Houle.
“He described the law to me very carefully—any speech that incites hatred toward someone based on membership in an identifiable group can be criminally prosecuted. Well, before I even set foot in Canada, he had identified me as having criminal proclivities because I belong to an identifiable group: conservatives. Or it could be because I’m a Christian, I’m a Presbyterian. I’m a female conservative. If what Francois Houle did to me is not a hate crime, then nothing is.”
After the event was cancelled by the police, Coulter says she went to her hotel room to relax and had a surreal moment. “I was watching the local news, which was all hockey and Ann Coulter, and some nut came on claiming that he was the organizer behind my speech. [murmurs in background] OK, his name is Craig Chandler. I sent an e-mail to my bodyguard saying Craig Chandler is disinvited from the event in Calgary. He’s on TV claiming to be the organizer and denouncing me!”
By Paul Wells - Thursday, January 21, 2010 at 7:40 PM - 105 Comments
Ezra Levant has access to a lot of documents from Rights and Democracy, showing discretionary spending he really doesn’t like. Clearly admirers of the organization’s new board are prepared to fight really hard to see that the recent changes there stick. We’ll see whether their opponents have similar amounts of fight in them.
UPDATE: Ezra calls Rights and Democracy’s $110,000 cheque to the United Nations’ High Commission for Human Rights “a deliberate and flagrant contradiction to Canada’s foreign policy.” You know who else cut a cheque to the United Nations just four months after Rights and Democracy did? The Conservative government of Stephen Harper. For $73 million. I’m telling you, these UN-lovers are everywhere.
By John Geddes - Monday, October 5, 2009 at 7:34 PM - 64 Comments
The free speech advocates testify before the House of Commons Justice Committee
A tandem appearance by Maclean’s columnist Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant, former publisher of the Western Standard magazine, made for an unusually entertaining first day of hearings at a parliamentary committee probing the controversial powers of the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
Steyn and Levant were called as witnesses by the House of Commons Justice Committee because they have both clashed with the commission and emerged as impassioned advocates for the repeal of Section 13 of the Human Rights Act, which gives the commission the authority to investigate complaints about hate speech.
They put on the anticipated lively show as the committee launched deliberations on Section 13. At one point, Steyn called the human rights commission’s investigators “psychologically disturbed.” Levant catalogued allegations of outrageous entrapment techniques he says have been used by the commission in an “out of control” hunt for hate-speakers to drag before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.
But if the two media-star witnesses were the focus of attention in Parliament’s Railway Committee Room, the inclinations of mostly anonymous MPs sitting on the committee could end up being the real story as its work progresses.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, July 28, 2009 at 3:25 PM - 34 Comments
I met Lindy at a party in Montreal once. He was quite tall. And his girlfriend said she was an actor for medical school seminars. Like Kramer in that Seinfeld episode.
Anyway. Lindy now sings songs about Ezra Levant, apparently. He’s quite popular with libertarians. And, as you’ll see at the end of this video, Jason Kenney.
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, May 21, 2009 at 12:20 PM - 1 Comment
Steyn’s Ezra quip and a very busy Mr. Oliphant
Those people on the Hill sure like free food
The Canadian Pork Council held a BBQ on the Hill (free pulled pork sandwiches!) to publicize the safety of their product in the midst of swine flu panic. It was the longest lineup Capital Diary had ever seen for a Hill reception. The final 30 people did not even get meat—some of them grabbed buns to soak up the leftover liquid in the serving pan. New Democrat Peter Stoffer was one of the few MPs who waited his turn in the endless line, even when organizers tried to pull him to the front for preferential treatment. The line went slower when cabinet ministers like Gerry Ritz (Agriculture) and Jean-Pierre Blackburn (National Revenue) took over from staff to do the serving. Everyone from Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq to Grit Leader Michael Ignatieff was chomping down. Conservative MP Shelly Glover noted she loves ham. “My kids live off of it,” says the mother of five, who was elected in the last election. (She is on leave from the Winnipeg Police Service, where she used to investigate crack houses and went undercover as a sex-trade worker.) Quipped deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer at the BBQ: “This is the good kind of pork on Parliament Hill.”
Who knew Justin had a tattoo?
Last year, Nova Scotia Grit Mike Savage was the lone MP to take up the Canadian Paraplegic Association’s challenge to spend a day in a wheelchair. This year, several politicians participated, including Conservative MP Dona Cadman and senators such as Olympic skiing gold medallist Nancy Greene Raine. They experienced first-hand the challenges of being in a wheelchair—travelling over carpets or hitting inaccessible committee rooms on the Hill. The day ended with wheelchair races. When Justin Trudeau took on his Toronto Liberal colleague Martha Hall Findlay, he suggested she remove her jacket. When she did and it was revealed she was sleeveless underneath, Trudeau, who was already without a jacket and tie, stripped down to his sleeveless undershirt. (A few people were surprised to see a small tattoo of the earth on his upper left arm.) He won for fastest male MP, but beat Hall Findlay only by a slim margin. It should be noted, however, that Hall Findlay had a “wardrobe malfunction.” Her bra straps slipped off her shoulders and she had to pause to push them back up.
By Mitchel Raphael - Wednesday, May 13, 2009 at 9:00 AM - 72 Comments
Ezra Levant held the Ottawa launch of his new book, Shakedown: How Our Government…
Ezra Levant held the Ottawa launch of his new book, Shakedown: How Our Government is Undermining Democracy in the Name of Human Rights. Levant is the journalist and Conservative activist who was taken to the Alberta Human Rights Commission when he published the controversial Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in the Western Standard.
(Left to right) Ezra Levant, Liberal Senator Jerry Grafstein and Maclean’s columnist/keynote speaker Mark Steyn.
Transport Minister John Baird (right) and Tory staffer Chris Lawton.
Keynote speaker Mark Steyn.
By Ezra Levant - Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 2:08 PM - 231 Comments
Exclusive excerpt: How McDonald’s hand-washing policy was overruled
If British Columbia sounds like the land that common sense forgot when it comes to human rights, there’s good reason. Many of the most ridiculous case studies discussed in this book originate in that province.
Take, for instance, the time the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal declared that a McDonald’s restaurant employee had the human right not to wash her hands, even when she worked in the kitchen, and instead should be accommodated by finding her another job in the organization where handwashing was not essential. In theory this makes sense; but in practice, McDonald’s, who ought to know, say that there aren’t any positions that don’t require handwashing.
By Andrew Coyne - Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 10:40 AM - 18 Comments
Ezra Levant’s case against a tribunal system that flattens civil liberties in Canada
If, when the history is written, 2008 turns out to be the beginning of the end for Canada’s human rights commissions, the beginning of the beginning of the end will no doubt prove to be the moment last January, in a dingy office in downtown Calgary, when Ezra Levant switched on his video camera.
Levant, then the publisher of the Western Standard magazine, had been summoned to appear before an investigator with the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission. His crime? Publishing the famous “Danish cartoons,” a collection of images of the prophet Muhammad that had set off anti-Western protests across the Muslim world. A single complaint from a local imam had been enough to plunge Levant and his magazine into a two-year, $100,000 bureaucratic nightmare. And that’s just his own costs: with 15 staff assigned full-time to his case, he reckons the cost to Alberta taxpayers at upwards of $500,000.
By Andrew Potter - Thursday, March 26, 2009 at 10:36 PM - 95 Comments
Ezra Levant swing by the office this afternoon; he was in town pimping his…
Ezra Levant swing by the office this afternoon; he was in town pimping his new book Shakedown, a pretty devastating look at the Human Rights industry in Canada. I’ve never met him before, but he seemed almost giddy when he showed up, fresh from a signing at a downtown Chapters where — apparently — there was a healthy lineup to get him to sign copies of the book.
Good on him. I was never a huge fan of Ezra’s political leanings, and the Western Standard was not really my cup of tea. But printing the Danish cartoons was courageous, and his subsequent fight with the AHRC was deeply principled and very nicely handled. Anyway, we had a nice chat for an hour or so, about everything from the origins of the human rights commissions to constitutional interpretation to the Galloway affair. He’s smart, engaging as hell, and his book is going to sell boatloads.
I’ll have a review of the book soon, and I might try to publish our discussion as a Q&A somewhere. Meanwhile, my personal takeaway from our discussion is the subject line of this post. More later.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, January 6, 2009 at 5:43 PM - 96 Comments
As noted, last night’s battle of teenage hockey players was very important and deeply meaningful. Indeed, it was nothing less than a profound window into our national soul, and the very hearts of our political leaders.
Stephen Taylor explains.
Hockey games usually provide photo-ops for Canadian politicians to awkwardly rub shoulders with “every day” Canadians and pretend to show interest in the game that the rest of us plebs know and love. However, Stephen Harper, a man with an interest that could be described as a genuine but fanatical love of the game (maintained by his trademark calm) was there not only for the gold medal game, but most – if not all – of team Canada’s games during the entire tournament. As for photo-ops, our country’s leader looked at ease with a shirt-less gold-painted-with-Canada-logo-on-chest superfan as he gave thumbs up for a fan photo. The Prime Minister also took the opportunity of hanging out with the team before games in the dressing room. One reporter explained to me that usually such a moment would have racked the nerves of a team. However, for a man at ease in this element, wearing a leather jacket and jeans, having laced skates, taped sticks and socks many times before, the PM was just another hockey dad.
Michael Ignatieff was also in attendence but only for the gold medal game. The Liberal leader and grandson of a Russian tsar took a break from writing a book on his family history long enough to recognize the tournament and descend to mingle with the masses. Ignatieff had a rare chance of witnessing a Canadian hockey victory while living in Canada – the distinguished academic has been largely abroad since the late 60s. A friend joked that Ignatieff told TSN, “I am a fan of the game of hockey, but not necessarily a hockey fan.” For the two men, Harper and Ignatieff, hockey underscores a vital political strength and a vital political weakness. For the Prime Minister, voters select someone they see in themselves and they pick someone who understands and shares their concerns. For Ignatieff, voters will sever him if he cannot genuinely tie himself with the threads that line our hearts.
We’re a nation bound by our love of hockey.
In fairness, Mr. Ignatieff’s been Liberal leader for nearly a month. It’s really about time his Canadianness was questioned. His predecessor had the job for mere days before doubt was cast on his.