Minister of Immigration Jason Kenney might be breathing a sigh of relief that Conservative ally, Sun News TV personality Ezra Levant waited until long after Kenney’s refugee reform bill had passed before apologizing on air for slanderous comments he made last September about the Roma people.

In his now-notorious broadcast, many months ago, Levant said the Roma are “a culture synonymous with swindlers.”

“The phrase ‘gypsy’ and ‘cheater’ have been so interchangeable historically,” he added, digging himself deeper into the muck of racial stereotyping, “That the word has been entered into the English language as a verb: he gypped me.”

Now, nearly six months later, and after Jason Kenney’s refugee reform bill has been safely enacted — a bill that, in significant measure, targeted Roma seeking asylum in Canada — Levant has decided to repent, with these words:

“…to those I hurt, I’m sorry. But as someone who seeks to influence the public debate, I have to think about the words I choose. It’s just wrong to slur a group of people. I made the moral mistake of judging people collectively.”

The mainstream media is puzzled at the motive for this belated act of contrition.

Many media folks speculate that the belated apology has something to do with Sun News’ effort to get onto the must-carry roster of cable stations, faced, as it is, with a bleeding bottom line.

Oddly, nobody has pointed out that there is another possible motive.

There is a still-unresolved complaint against Levant, with the City of Toronto Police, for hate speech. That is a criminal matter, and — whatever your views on hate speech laws — in the case of Ezra Levant’s Roma rant it does look a lot like: “If it walks like a duck…” Well, you know the rest!

The Toronto Police and Crown Attorney’s office have not yet said whether or not they will proceed with charges against Levant under Canada’s hate speech laws.

Is it possible the apology was intended to head off any such possible action? 

Karl Nerenberg

Karl Nerenberg joined rabble in 2011 to cover news for the rest of us from Parliament Hill. Karl has been a journalist and filmmaker for over 25 years, including eight years as the producer of the CBC...