Ezra Levant lives up to his own controversies at NASH conference

Please chip in to support rabble's election 2019 coverage. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

Photo: flickr/Raj Taneja

You can change the political conversation. Chip in to rabble's donation drive today!

By calling the liberal media the "Borg," the CBC "the Death Star" and asking a crowd of student journalists if they believed in the "theory" of man-made global warming, conservative media personality Ezra Levant was surely up to his usual antics at the final keynote at the Canadian University Press (CUP) NASH 76 conference in Edmonton last Saturday night.

A large number of student journalists came out to the speech by Levant -- which CUP allocated some of their $10,000 speaker budget to -- with around 20-25 leaving throughout. But it’s safe to say that Levant’s talk wasn’t necessarily what most typically expected to see at NASH.

To begin his talk, Levant read snippets from the two op-eds opposing his keynote at NASH from The Charlatan at Carleton University and The Link at Concordia University. He continued to address controversies such as his accusations of hate speech and his libel cases.

"I thought it was a great starting point, a news peg as I might say, to talk about dissident and allowing contrarians and listening to other sides of the debate," said Levant about his reasoning on beginning his talk with the op-eds.

In addition to the op-eds, Levant also spoke about the controversy surrounding his comments about the Roma people and his decision to publish the Danish cartoons of Muhammad in Western Standard magazine in 2006.

The question period, however, is when things got heated during Levant’s talk. Levant shouted down one student journalist originally from America -- in which he later referred to him as an "asshole" -- and told another student journalist that he’s "sure there's an enormous demand for shouty, women's studies majors on TV." She abruptly left the keynote after Levant’s response to her question on feminism.

Following the keynote a group of student journalists gathered around Levant to personally speak to him. A Sun News cameraman accompanied Levant to the keynote and filmed segments from question period as well as his interactions with the students afterwards.

But many on Twitter and at the conference questioned Ezra’s tactics in the way in which he delivers his information.

"It wasn’t rational, that’s not the way Ezra works. He doesn’t stay on one argument, he’ll jump around -- that’s his tactic," explained Colin Harris, the editor-in-chief at The Link and a journalism and political science student at Concordia University. "His talk was not strong. He brought up every example of oppression that he could think of."

Levant admitted that "shock value" is necessary to how he conveys his message.

"You need their attention before you give them substance," explained Levant. "I don’t call myself a real reporter, because to me a reporter is a straight shooting, no opinion kind of guy."

He added, "I absolutely am a journalist, I journalize the events of the day. Now, in case it’s not clear, I’m an opinion journalist, just in case that wasn’t obvious."

With the backlash with choosing Levant as a speaker, NASH 76 coordinators Andrea Ross and Alex Migdal defended their decision to have Levant speak.

"Honesty, I think this is a very good thing, all this conversation around that announcement. NASH is about fostering conversation and stimulating discussion on things like this," Ross told rabble.ca earlier during the conference.

Like this article? Chip in to keep stories like these coming!

Justin Smirlies is currently the Editor-in-Chief at The Cord. He recently received an Honours BA from Laurier with a major in history and a minor in film studies. One day, he hopes to become a journalist. Maybe.

Photo: flickr/Raj Taneja

Further Reading

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.