The Rebel defeats the Premier of Alberta:
Rachel Notley is a bully. She just couldn’t get away with it this time. But she’s not done trying. She’s taken no personal responsibility for this illegal blacklist. The unsigned statement’s passive tone — mistakes were made — shows Notley is genetically incapable of saying “sorry”. Not to our reporters Sheila Gunn Reid and Holly Nicholas — Notley never would, and it worthless to us. But saying sorry to Albertans, for sacrificing their culture of freedom to “get even” with her critics.
As to The Rebel, we’re going to keep doing our unique brand of journalism — news, opinion and activism. We obviously are covering it in a way that no-one else is — a way that Albertans love, and Notley hates. That’s a pretty good form of media accreditation, don’t you think?
Yes. I most definitely do. What is surprising about the Affair Notley is the enormous support the Rebel has received from the MSM. What is less surprising is the immense ill grace with which that support has been delivered. Here is Andrew Coyne throwing up as he writes:
The issue here is not whether Levant is a journalist — so far as he is, suffice to say he is a stain on the trade — but, as more than one commentator rightly put it, that it is no business for the government to decide. Whatever Levant’s failings, it cannot be doubted the Notley government would have been far less interested in the journalistic credentials of a source who was not so relentlessly critical of its performance.
While denying access to news conferences may not count as outright censorship (and while governments have always selectively leaked information to friendly outlets), the precedent of a government awarding and withholding access in this way — in effect, licensing journalists — could not be allowed to stand. It was to my colleagues’ credit that they could put aside their evident disgust at being associated with Levant long enough to defend his rights. And it was to the government’s credit that it quickly backed off and admitted its mistake.
Not exactly a hymnal to the liberty of the citizen. Yet Coyne's comments were among the more elegant and considered of the debacle. The MSM's defence of the Rebel reminded me of how libertarians used to defend the rights of Holocaust deniers: Teeth clenched and at a long arm's distance. The hatred of Ezra Levant by the Great and Good - and he is truly hated - is largely tonal. The right-wing impresario's politics are not terrible right of centre, remember this is a guy who worked for both Stockwell Day and Preston Manning. Some of his campaigns and video rants - if rendered in more moderate language - could even gain the assent of the editorial staff at the Globe. The great sin of Ezra is that he is terribly rude.
More than half a century ago Pierre Berton observed that you can get away with saying anything in Canada, so long as you wear a bow-tie. It was an important insight into the Canadian character. There sits on the NDP and Liberal parliamentary benches figures far more radical - in terms of political distance from the mainstream - than anything that has ever passed the lips of Mr Levant. These radicals however speak in the dulcet tones of the Leftist argot. They wear the modern day equivalent of bow-ties and so pass unhindered through the corridors of influence and power.
Some of those corridors are now occupied by Rachel Notley and her band of tone-deaf socialists. That the Rebel was deliberately targeted is obvious enough. The thing that is truly fascinating is how utterly ill-prepared the NDP High Command was for the backlash. They basically handed Ezra a massive campaign on a silver plater. What were they expecting to happen? This is a man who makes his living fighting crusades over freedom of expression. Did they really think he'd refuse to pick up this particular gauntlet? That his tens of thousands of supporters would fail to back him as they've backed him so many times before?
With the Rebel the committed Right in Canada has at last found a perfect platform. No longer burdened by the tacit censorship and looming overhead costs of the legacy media, a genuinely new media has emerged to finish what's left of the old. That may sound like hyperbole and perhaps it is. Yet there is a better than even chance that twenty years from now there will still be Ezra Levant ranting at full throttle, while his many critics and opponents have vanished into history.