Rebel Media Rally

It would be easy just to make fun of Ezra Levant, a self-described defender of free speech, for throwing the Raging Grannies out of his protest rally yesterday for daring to try to exercise their right to free speech.

But seeing as in addition to calls from the podium to remove people who don’t support his message, there were credible reports out of Calgary yesterday of death threats levelled against a young woman reporter and someone waving a noose from a hockey stick, surely we can agree to stop calling these ugly events Levant organizes “anti-carbon tax rallies.”

Certainly opposition to the NDP provincial government’s carbon levy is part of the message at Levant’s events, but as happened yesterday when 800 or so of his supporters showed up at a supposedly public meeting in Calgary hotel’s ballroom, at least some of them started acting like an ugly, bullying mob.

Levant’s model seems to be the rallies organized by Donald Trump during the recent U.S. presidential election campaign — but the Alberta versions appear to have a more threatening tone, perhaps because they are closer to home, and to be far less well organized.

I can’t tell you who was waving the noose shown in the photo taken at the rally, posted at the top of this story, but the victim of the death threats was Haley Jarmain, reporting on the event for News 770 in Calgary.

She Tweeted: “I got death threats. Was laughed at. Told that I’m less of a human for my job.” She also said, rather charitably, “I doubt these men are going to actually find me and kill me. It’s the fact that telling me ‘you’re dead’ isn’t wrong to them.”

“I’ve never had that happen to me at any other rally except for the one with this group of people,” Jarmain said in another Tweet. And she’s right. This doesn’t usually happen at public events in Alberta, even when people are extremely upset or feel they’ve been treated badly by media. That’s because Albertans are mostly decent people.

It’s fair to conclude that Levant’s events are something quite different.

Last time this happened, in front of the Legislature last Sunday, Levant claimed the people who showed up bearing racist pamphlets and homophobic picket signs were NDP provocateurs. I expect he’ll make the same unlikely claim today about some of the worst goons at this rally if they happen to arouse enough criticism.

The problem, obviously, isn’t a few elderly progressives dressed up as the grannies they mostly are, it’s the thugs Levant’s message consistently attracts and the out-of-province creeps he gets as speakers to stir up his supporters.

People in other parts of Canada should take note of who was here to assist Levant and his Rebel Media organization, to which mainstream media gives the credit for organizing these gatherings. In addition to a couple of Rebel Media staffers, speakers included:

  • Kellie Leitch, the immigration-bashing “Canadian values” candidate for the federal Conservative leadership, who whinged about the CBC’s news coverage and gave a lame version of JFK’s “ask not what your country can do for you” speech.
  • Brad Trost, the latest Bradsplainer out of Saskatchewan, the anti-reproductive-rights candidate in the same Con leadership race and a vocal climate-change denier.
  • Chris Alexander, the grinning former Harper Government immigration minister best known for his immigrant snitch line proposal who conducted the chant of “lock her up” about Alberta NDP Premier Rachel Notley last Sunday, now recasting himself for the purposes of the same Con contest as a victim of the “elites” and a battler against “political correctness.”

If this threesome of creepy clowns is any indication — the party of John Diefenbaker and Brian Mulroney — the Conservative Party of Canada is in a sorry state indeed!

As an aside, it gripes me that these politicians from Ontario and Saskatchewan traipse out here at the invitation of a Toronto-based blogger to say and do things that result in people all across Canada concluding Albertans are morons! Could you just keep them at home, please?

As for the other speaker, Ottawa-born Derek Fildebrandt, the Wildrose Party’s chief poster of offensive Tweets, well, he’s been here long enough now I guess that we Albertans are going to have to take credit for him ourselves, even if he apparently thinks we should build a wall around Alberta, although surely not to keep our oil in.

Can we also agree that it’s time for mainstream media and government officials to stand up to Levant’s bullying tirades to stop pretending Rebel Media is a legitimate news media operation?

This post also appears on David Climenhaga’s blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca.

Like this article? Please chip in to keep stories like these coming.

David J. Climenhaga

David Climenhaga, author of the Alberta Diary blog, is a journalist, author, journalism teacher, poet and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with the Globe...