A Word To My Critics:

To those accusing me of seeking to defend Blatchford, as intent to undermine Guthrie/Reilly, or as somehow  actively championing an odious twitter persona I’m on the record as having no sympathy for:

My intention in writing this piece (an incredibly shortened, edited version of my lengthy submission) was to promote an honest discussion about the case itself, because either ruling will only serve to further inflame the matter.

Because all parties involved (and their supporters) are so emotionally-invested in the outcome, it seems my submission has been taken as having some nefarious, ulterior motive.

After having read through the documents made public, I am genuinely concerned about the fallout should a verdict not favour the complainants.

A few things to note:

There were multiple inconsistencies during testimony, incomplete/one-sided Storifys of conversations/dialogue between Elliott and Guthrie/Reilly which misrepresented who initiated the exchange; a “shifting evidentiary foundation” due to the repeated locking/unlocking of the  – until then – fully accessible to the Court, public Twitter accounts of the complainants.

None of this diminishes the complainants’ perceived sense of fear, nor does it excuse Eliiott’s alleged behaviour. What It does, however, is serve to remind of the complexity of this case. Asking questions, discussing the case in its entirety, doesn’t equate disbelieving or blaming the victim.

To the contrary, should the judge rule in Elliott’s favour, it ensures the focus remains on the Crown’s potential shortcomings rather than the validity of the complainants’ experience.

One can believe the allegations, even support the complainants, while recognizing evidentiary weaknesses.

It should be noted the Crown offered no final verbal submission, nor was a written submission made publicly available.

Women already face undue suspicion when alleging intimidation, harassment, or sexual assault. And given the slim chances of a satisfactory legal outcome, when weighed against the emotional investment and inevitable fallout many decide it isn’t worth the trade-off, so violations go unreported.

I worry that an unwelcome verdict will make matters worse, and that’s why a thorough examination of the case, in my view, is crucial.

Given the blowback, in the future, when writing on contentious issues/situations, I’ll post to this blog so I can go on at length and ensure a thorough – and clear – reading on the matter.


Just published: “Crown lawyer Marnie Goldenberg submitted her closing statement to the court in writing and declined media requests to release copies. She granted Metro permission to read the statement on Tuesday.”

“Mr. Elliot sent copious amounts of obsessive, harassing tweets where he tweeted ‘at’ the complainants, mentioned their handles, mentioned the hashtags created by Ms. Guthrie, sent subtweets at the complainants, monitored their feeds, etc. He did this knowing that they blocked him and that they did not want contact with him,” Goldenberg wrote.

Citing Guthrie’s testimony, Goldenberg took issue with the defence position that Guthrie and Reilly must not have been truly afraid of Elliott because they called him out — even taunted him — on Twitter.

“There is no perfect victim,” Guthrie said at trial. “And there’s no perfect way to respond to being stalked, and I am… You don’t always just hide away. Sometimes you fight back a little bit.”

“Why should the complainants not be allowed to speak out against their harasser and warn others?” Goldenberg wrote. “Why should the complainants be criticized for speaking with their friends about being harassed? … (They) should be allowed to do so without fear that the actions of the harasser will be minimized. Just because they speak out, does not mean that they are not fearful and the harasser’s actions are not aggravating and serious.”

“Respectfully, there is nothing wrong with Ms. Guthrie being proactive. She is a strong articulate woman who wanted to speak out for others. She cared about other women and ‘their right to be on the internet without having their boundaries crossed by a creep,’” Goldenberg continued.


My submission as it appeared in the National Post on July 22, 2015:

Regardless of the verdict in the Guthrie case, we’ve already lost

An emotionally-charged criminal harassment case whose outcome, according to National Post columnist Christie Blatchford, risks serious ramifications for freedom of speech online, dates back to 2012; that was the year when Stephanie Guthrie decided to punish Bendilin Spurr.

Spurr, a young man from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., created a disturbing video game entitled “Beat Up Anita Sarkeesian” in which players punch an image of the noted feminist in the face with bloody results. The game delighted a self-styled group of “Men’s Rights Activists” (MRAs) — online commentators on perpetual watch for what they perceive as feminist provocations.

If MRAs are the extreme end of an increasingly savage online culture war, Guthrie and her fellow co-complainant, Heather Reilly, are their natural enemies. Engaged and prominent online feminists, both have been subjected to threats and harassment by MRAs — especially after they targeted Spurr.

Some of the abuse levelled at her from these activists (although not from the defendant in this case) was profoundly horrific. So much so that, in May 2014, Blatchford wrote:

“There isn’t a female writer, in the world probably, who isn’t routinely inundated with this sort of misogynist hate mail … Social media has only made a cruel old world more so, for everyone, but the viciousness of the communications my female colleagues and I receive, particularly when we dare to take a contrarian view of something, is stunning. While I am inured to it, it enrages me that Ms. Guthrie, just 29 and such a bold spirit, should feel it too. I can’t tell you how sad this made me that this truly great young woman is being subjected to this stuff.”

Under attack from the MRAs, Guthrie fought back, suggesting a “doxing” campaign against Spurr — Internet slang for publishing his personal information — and contacted his potential employers to make them aware of his online behaviour. It was this step that would form the crux of the fight between Guthrie and Gregory Allen Elliott.

Elliott is regarded by many as a notorious Twitter “troll” – an online commenter who deliberately, often profanely, seeks to provoke a hostile reaction. Elliott strongly disagreed with Guthrie’s tactics, and said so, crassly, numerous times. Guthrie took steps to block Elliott from accessing her tweets, but he was able to largely circumvent them and continue engaging with her and her online compatriots. It is those online activities that constitute the alleged stalking and harassment. (Elliott has also been charged with breaking a peace bond in relation to his sustained tweeting.)

A verdict in this matter is expected in the fall. Blatchford has been covering the proceedings for the years that they have ground on. In her past writings, while never masking her exasperation for the behaviour of all parties involved, she seemed empathetic to Guthrie.

That was, until last week.

In a column that drew heated online criticism, Blatchford called Guthrie’s perceived vulnerability into question, doubting just how much Guthrie felt she was at risk. Specifically, she wrote, “The criminal harassment charge is rooted in the alleged victim’s perception of the offending conduct … (if) the alleged victims ‘reasonably, in all the circumstances fear for their safety’, that’s good enough.” “Elliott’s chief sin,” Blatchford continues, was that “he dared to disagree with the two young feminists and political activists.”

To suggest, as Blatchford appears to do, that harassment without explicit threats of physical or sexual harm should not qualify as criminal, is troublesome. Further, while much of Blatchford’s earlier writing on this topic had made clear that Guthrie was unquestionably the target of vile abuse from MRA activists, generally (although not Elliott, specifically). But that broader context was largely absent last week. Yes, a columnist only has so many words to cover a topic and content must be sacrificed. But absent a deeper explanation of what Guthrie has sincerely alleged to have endured, it’s easy to conclude that there’s nothing to see here.

And that isn’t so. If nothing else, the fact that the police and Crown pursued charges in the first place suggest the behaviour was beyond simple, even rude, disagreement, doesn’t it?

That being said, some of the backlash against Blatchford was misguided — particularly suggestions that Blatchford was personally responsible for online anger directed at Guthrie. Indeed, Guthrie has, sadly, been the target of that kind of abuse for years.

Guthrie may have been subject to yet another barrage of death threats and harassment at the hands of the MRA crowd in the wake of Blatchford’s column, but to suggest Blatchford intentionally incited this retaliation is unfair. Nor is Blatchford responsible for a campaign by a group of MRAs to cover Elliott’s legal bills — even though the campaign quotes from her writings on the matter.

Though I’m not personally familiar with either complainant, I have admired what I’ve seen of Guthrie’s public persona from afar. However, Guthrie and Reilly do assuredly belong to a subset of feminists who employ tactics that are not only unhelpful, but terribly counterproductive. They perceive themselves to be an online authority of feminism — they play to a virtual audience and engage in a culture of “calling out,” online mobbing, and doxing. They justify these actions by relying on the moral certainty of their personal cause.

Throughout the trial, Blatchford reported on the fact that Guthrie copped to her own bullying tactics. She’s been, arguably, as vindictive online as Elliott himself. It was, after all, with malicious intent that Guthrie sought to “sic the internet” on Spurr, testifying she “would not feel sorry” if his life were ruined, and would feel no sense of responsibility had he been driven to suicide following her call to mob. In her view, he’d have brought it on himself.

Should charges against Elliott be dismissed, Guthrie and Reilly, and their group of vocal public supporters, will be inundated with more misogynistic attacks from angry MRAs, including threats of rape or murder. It’s happened before. It will again. On the other hand, if the judge should rule that Elliott’s behaviour was criminal, thus vindicating Guthrie and Reilly, the response will be … pretty much the same.

As for Elliott, even if he’s acquitted, chances are his life will have been irrevocably damaged.

While we wait for the verdict, it’s worth nothing that this trial has become a proxy war between extremes — a battle between hard-line feminists and MRAs. This brutal online battle will continue to escalate, hardening hearts and coarsening our public debate.

To that end, regardless of the verdict, we’ve already lost.


Rebel Without A Spine

Facts often prove a nuisance to those with an agenda to push or a narrative to sell. Just as those who peddle snake-oil rely on manufactured illness to hawk miracle cures, those who ply their trade in fear rely on ignorance to further an ideology.

I’ve long used social media as a means to combat misinformation, and it just so happens that one of my earliest fact-checks involved a media personality who wears his well-established history of “reckless disregard for the truth” as a point of pride.

In September 2010, ahead of the Sun News Network’s launch, future-host Ezra Levant penned an astonishingly libellous column for the Sun chain of papers accusing billionaire philanthropist George Soros of, among other things, having been a Nazi collaborator.

I combed through Levant’s column, countering each false assertion with documented facts, and soon learned my effort had made its way to Soros himself, who then notified Sun Media of his intent to sue for defamation.

A full retraction and apology was issued, noting there was “no basis for the statements in the column … Sun Media and Ezra Levant retract the statements made in the column and unreservedly apologize to Mr. Soros for the distress and harm this column may have caused him.”

I continued to follow Levant’s work – and that of his colleagues – after Sun News went to air, documenting mistruths, mocking hyperbolic absurdities, and when possible, pairing false reports with links to the facts.

Though I’d become somewhat of a thorn in Levant’s side, it was my possession of the only recording of his racist anti-Roma tirade after Sun News thought they’d effectively purged it from existence – a recording which aided in forcing him to, again, issue a grovelling apology – which cemented his disdain for me.

And perhaps explains why the self-described “fearless Rebel Commander” is so, utterly terrified of me.

When The Rebel, Levant’s online vanity project launched after Sun News’ demise, promoted an “EMERGENCY PUBLIC MEETING” regarding Alberta’s future under the “extremist” Notley regime – an event billed as “an independent, non-partisan meeting, open to the public for free” – I reserved a pair of seats.

After receiving a confirmation email from Amanda Achtman, Levant’s loyal apprentice who first served him at Ethical Oil before joining him at Sun News and now The Rebel, I was surprised to find another email, this one directly from Levant, notifying me of his personal intervention to cancel my reservation, claiming to be “concerned from your past conduct that you will be disruptive and profane.”

Knowing Levant’s assertions were fabricated, I requested evidence to support his allegations of my “past conduct” or “track-record” of being “disruptive and profane.”

posted a screenshot of the exchange to twitter, and quickly received numerous invites to be another’s +1 for the Calgary event.

I sent a number of follow-up emails to both Levant and Achtman, requesting proof of the various allegations cited to justify cancelling my reservation, and specifically asked whether I’d be barred from entering if I attended as someone’s guest.

Despite repeated requests, neither opted to respond.

After being asked to write about the presentation, I took a right-leaning friend – a Levant fan – up on the ‘+1’ offer and agreed to meet at the Carriage House Inn, the town hall’s location, a half-hour before its scheduled start.

I arrived in good time, maneuvered my way through the steady-stream of attendees and proceeded to the check-in tables. Before I had a chance to confirm my attendance, however, I was whisked away by a pair men whom Levant hired, it seemed, to specifically watch for me and prevent my participation. When I asked for an explanation as to why I was disallowed from this “open to the public” forum, I was told it was open to everyone — except me.

Neither man could explain why, only that they were under strict orders to ensure I didn’t get in.

When Levant ventured out to greet people, he accidentally offered me a hearty “Hello, and welcome!” before recognition set in, after which he frantically turned-tail and rushed away, shouting that I was “not welcome here,” refusing to answer when I asked him to come back, face me, and explain why.

As I stood in the lobby he passed by twice more, perhaps hoping I’d pull a Levant and cause a scene, but I simply continued to request explanation, and he continued to remain silent as he hurried by.

It was the same with Achtman who bolted when she first saw me, later making a few extra passes, each time refusing to stop and answer my queries. I offered to leave once I received an explanation as to why I was barred, but was told by one of Levant’s hired henchmen that I’d get no explanation, and if I did not leave I’d be arrested.

Knowing I’d done nothing wrong, I offered to face arrest, to stay and wait for the police to sort things out. When the police arrived, they seemed completely baffled by the farce. According to his gatekeepers, Levant claimed I’d “long been banned” from the Carriage House Inn, though I’d never once before set foot there. He also alleged I had a “track-record” of disrupting his events – his guards even claimed there were pictures, though neither I nor the police were allowed to see them – and he had a documented history of my ejections — again, flat-out lies.

Once the police determined all the allegations Levant provided were false, they simply shrugged and said there were no grounds on which to arrest me, nor could they force me to leave. One officer suggested I could “make better use of the night in this beautiful weather” than wait on an explanation which likely wouldn’t come, and I agreed.

I thanked them for their time and went on my way.

In the end, the “EMERGENCY” town halls were nothing more than an effort by Levant to build his fledgeling Rebel brand.

Employing his usual strategy – creating a threat (radical outsiders intent on destroying Alberta), presenting himself as the saviour (the “mainstream media” are complicit and incompetent) and, of course, asking for money fund his ‘heroics’ – Levant is working to rescue The Rebel from sharing the fate of his previous media ventures. Through this overwrought grasp at relevance, Levant sought to recruit a new generation of “severely normal” Albertans to his Rebel army; to rouse their anger, stoke their fear, and demand they fight to restore Alberta to her glory.

As evidence by Levant’s own photos of the audience, there are, indeed, a handful of Albertans eager to take up the pitchforks and torches, call themselves Rebels, and “take Alberta back” from the “socialist insurrection” — so long as it doesn’t interfere with Bingo night.

Correction/clarification: BigCityLib informs me he, too, had a recording of Levant’s anti-Roma screed, which was made for people pursuing the complaint. And though I wasn’t aware, it seems he has quite a history with the Rebel Commander himself. His chronicling of Levant’s growing trail of lost legal battles – and the subsequent financial payouts/grovelling apologies – is rather impressive and well-worth exploring.

Here is the full email exchange between Levant and myself, and eventually Achtman too:

From: Alheli Picazo 
Date: Fri, Jun 5, 2015 at 9:07 PM
Subject: Town hall meeting
To: Amanda Achtman, Ezra Levant 
Hi Ezra,

I’m still waiting on your response to my questions, as I have multiple invites to the event and I do plan on attending.

I’ve now added Amanda to this exchange, as she approved my RSVP, just in case you’d rather respond through her — you know, how middle-school girls communicate when they’re mad at each other.

Clock’s ticking.

From: Alheli Picazo 
Date: Thu, Jun 4, 2015 at 3:27 PM
Subject: Re: Town hall meeting
To: Ezra Levant 
Hi Ezra,

I eagerly await your response to the questions I’ve already posed, both in my previous email and over on twitter, and now that I’m up to 9 invites to be another’s +1 for the evening, clarity as to whether the event is indeed “an independent, non-partisan meeting, open to the public for free” is necessary.

I find it quite amusing that you’re so frightened by a wee Calgary lass who is quite literally less than half your size, and who is known (in real, offline life) by those who count themselves your followers – even some who are your personal friends – as quiet and gentle, and nothing but respectful. And it’s these hard-right leaning friends who want me to accompany them to the event. If I take one up on the offer, will only s/he be admitted and myself turned away? Are there any other unwritten rules for the night that I, or others, should be aware of?

Looking forward to your response in this exchange which, might I add, you initiated.

On Tue, Jun 2, 2015 at 9:08 PM, Alheli Picazo  wrote:
Hello Ezra,

I’m sorry to hear that despite being billed as “an independent, non-partisan meeting, open to the public for free,” you’ve taken it upon yourself to screen the guest list. I suppose that means if there is to be a Q & A, the questions/questioners will be pre-selected (if not staged) as well.

And that’s fine. It’s your event, you can do as you wish. Funny though, given your history of making hay over being kicked out/off premises – subsequently demanding those seeking to exclude you respect your freedom and face the tough questions; accusing them of being cowards, afraid of real scrutiny – you’re so quick to do the same.

But I must ask what you’ve based your assertion of my apparent “track-record / past conduct” of being “disruptive and profane”? Perhaps someone who doesn’t actually know me has misinformed you? Or maybe you just made it up, as is your penchant? Because we both know you’ve made an entirely fabricated assertion. Why? There’s no need. If you’re so intimidated at the thought of my presence, just say so.

Though yes, admitting as much would take away from that whole Rebel thing. And I wonder, should someone ask me to be their guest, will I be turned away at the door? Will there be a blacklist to ensure only the like-minded are admitted? If so, you really should change the event’s description.

Though it’s unfortunate you won’t allow me to attend, at least by your personal intervention in the matter you’ve once again revealed the depth – or lack thereof – of your commitment to ‘freedom.’

Hope all goes well, and I’ll watch for the (hopefully full, unedited) event video.


On Tue, Jun 2, 2015 at 7:32 AM, Ezra Levant wrote:
Dear Alheli,

I see that you have signed up for our Calgary town hall. I am concerned from your past conduct that you will be disruptive and profane, and that you are not attending in good faith.

Given your track-record, and given that this event will likely sell out, it is my view that we cannot set aside two seats for you, and so I am cancelling your reservation.

If you are genuinely interested in the event, we will be putting a video of it on our website.

Yours truly,

Ezra Levant

Do you know what would be terribly awkward, further showcasing the depth of Levant’s hypocrisy? If there were video of him doing precisely what he claimed he feared I’d do as justification for my exclusion from a public event:

Juxtapose! Here’s me at Levant’s town hall being catastrophically disruptive and oh, so profane:

Here’s one of Achtman’s passes. She managed a nod here!
(I’m not sure what’s up with the audio, will try to upload again later today._

And here’s one of the ever-so-brave Levant’s passes.
(Again, I have no idea why the audio failed with these short snippets. Will work to fix.)

As I was getting ready to leave – sitting in my vehicle in the Carriage House Inn parking lot, updating twitter with what had just happened – the Reform Party of Alberta was putting flyers in car windows. The leader had been greeting attendees down the hall from where I’d stood in the lobby, and when he saw me inside my car, he wasn’t keen on letting me have a flyer —
so I just grabbed one off the truck beside me (and hurried back to my car and locked the doors, as he was quite angry).

It’s disappointing how much vitriol has been directed toward CANADALAND and Jesse Brown for daring to publish my run-down of events. For a crowd who claims to be the defenders of free speech, they certainly are quick to condemn anyone who dares publish something they’d rather not read — or would prefer not have been written

You know: “Free speech for me, not for thee!” Their master has taught them well.

As for Levant: if you are reading this Ezra, my invitation to meet face-to-face stands. I’m happy to meet-up – with a neutral third-party (mutual conservative friend, perhaps) if it’ll make me seem less intimidating – and see if we can work things out.  Because we both know all your allegations of me were lies, and you continue to misrepresent (through your underlings, natch) what actually happened at the Calgary event.

I won’t hold my breath. But I will leave this here, as a friendly reminder that by your own admission, nothing you say should be mistaken for fact:

Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 4.12.23 AM

On June 16, a shorter version of this piece (without the additional media) appeared on CANADALAND.

Circus At The Levant

“Being a Jew isn’t like being Black or being gay or being a woman, or even Israeli where many Jews come from. Being a Jew is a choice, like being a Blood or Crip.

Jews are the medieval prototype of the Occupy Wall Street movement; a shiftless group of hobo’s that doesn’t believe in property rights for themselves – they’re nomads – or for others.  They rob people blind.

Jew is a culture synonymous with swindlers.  The phrase Jew and cheater have been so interchangeable historically that the word has entered the English language as a verb.  He ‘jewed’ me.

Well the Jews have ‘jewed’ us.

This scourge has come to Canada as false refugees, here to jew us again, to rob us blind, as they have done in the Middle East for centuries.”

In September 2012, the star of a Canada’s “most controversial news channel” took to the air, refused to be cowed by those who’d surely “blow (their) hate crime whistle,” and proudly read what is arguably the most racist, offensive monologue the news channel has aired to date.

And for a network whose very existence depends on fomented outrage, that’s saying something.

Impossible, you might think. Surely if any network, particularly one billing itself as “Canada’s home for hard news and straight talk,” aired such a repulsive screed, Canadians, who’d never stand for such intolerance, would be up in arms, calling for the censure of the network; the termination of the news personality in question.

Or at least, being Canadian and all, would politely request an apology.

Indeed, you’d be right. The excerpt seen above has been altered ever-so-slightly: The word Gypsy replaced with Jew; gypped with jewed; Europe with Middle East.

Are you still repulsed?

The network in question, Sun News, and the personality, Ezra Levant, certainly had no qualms about what aired.

In fact, it wasn’t until Kory Teneycke, former spokesperson for Prime Minister Stephen Harper and current Vice President of Sun News, was pleading to the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council for his networks’ inclusion in basic cable packages across the country – a full six months after the segment aired – that Levant expressed any reservations about that episode, prompting a surprise on-air apology, followed by a farcical you’ve-been-a-naughty-boy! finger-wagging from Teneycke for good measure.

Should you think the apology was at all sincere and unrelated to Sun News’ application to the CBSC, consider that shortly after the original broadcast, a joint op-ed from three respected, influential Jewish figures – former CEO of Canadian Jewish Congress Bernie Farber,  Holocaust survivor Nate Leipciger, and president of Ve’ahavta: The Canadian Jewish Humanitarian and Relief Committee Avrum Rosensweig – appeared in the National Post, condemning Levant’s “contemptible screed;” Noting that, just as the Jews were targeted during the Holocaust, so too were the Roma.

“There is even a Roma proverb that speaks of Jews and Roma trudging to the gas chambers together,” wrote Farber et al. “Andje jekh than hamisajlo amaro vushar ande’l bova: ‘Our ashes are mingled in the ovens’.”

What was Levant’s response to Farber, a man Levant has never shied away from sparring in the past? Absolute silence.

Though, after the apology, Levant was back to lobbing insults, calling Farber a “self-hating Jew,” a “censor and a liar”, and “too stupid to really be Jewish.”

You see, Levant likes to style himself the ultimate defender of all things Jewish; the decider of who qualifies as a ‘real’ Jew, the exposer of traitors and pretenders, labeling anyone who dares cross him, a “jew-hater.”

And, as evidenced by his attacks on Farber, not even fellow Jews are safe from Levant’s  nonsense.

In 2010, Levant penned an atrocious, ripped-from-the-furthest-corners-of-the-conservative-conspiratorial-blogosphere column for The Sun chain of papers titled Moral Hollowness At Work in which he, in great detail, slandered philanthropist Geroge Soros – a favorite boogyman of the American far right fringe – alleging, among other things, that Soros, a Hungarian Jew who survived the Holocaust, was secretly a “Nazi collaborator (who) turned on other Jews to spare himself.”

After Soros threatened both Levant and Sun Media with a hefty lawsuit, both a retraction and apology were issued, reading, in part:

“A column by Ezra Levant contained false statements about George Soros and his conduct as a young teenager in Nazi-occupied Hungary. The management of Sun Media wishes to state that there is no basis for the statements in the column and they should not have been made.”

This is what Levant does: He deliberately mischaracterizes, misconstrues, and misrepresents – and often entirely fabricates – facts to suit his narrative.

His most recent misreporting stems from a confrontation that erupted between pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian demonstrators at a rally in Calgary on July 18th; a gathering initially meant to express solidarity with the people of Gaza.

To hear Levant tell it, “Pro-Hamas thugs … took over the streets of Calgary,” streets where “Arab extremists (chase) Jews and Gentiles;” where “Queen Elizabeth’s laws don’t rule … Sharia law does.”

It was “a throwback to anti-Semitic ground troops of Germany in the 1930s!” That’s right. An otherwise uneventful rally, according to Levant, could have been mistaken for Hitler’s Brownshirts carrying out street violence against Jews.

How on earth could Calgary, in a few short minutes, have transformed from a beacon of tolerance to a scene straight out of Gaza and/or Nazi Germany?

First at fault: Nenshi.

Apparently Levant learned nothing from his previous attempt to smear Calgary’s Mayor: His campaign to paint Nenshi as an intolerant Muslim who targeted Christians was so mind-numbingly absurd that even The Calgary Sun refused to climb aboard.

Still, on Twitter, Levant recycled the accusations against the Mayor, claiming Nenshi ‘harassed’ the noble Artur Pawlowski — Canada’s own Westboro Baptist preacher: a rank homophobe who claimed the historic floods of 2013 were a result, in part, of God’s “weeping for the perversions of homosexuality;” who protested this summer’s World Pride in Toronto with a giant “Satan Loves Fags” banner — yet hadn’t condemned the “violent Arab thugs.”

On air, Levant called Nenshi “a disgrace,” a man who “never shuts up about anything” but “hasn’t said a word” about July 18th.

In truth, however, Nenshi, who announced on July 15 that he was off to a family wedding, wasn’t even in Calgary in the days leading up to, during, or following the rally. And upon his return, he did, in fact, speak on the issue.

Of course, had Levant acknowledged either of these things, he wouldn’t have been able to rally his troops to spend days hurling slurs and accusations at the Mayor on Levant’s behalf.

Second at fault: The Calgary Police.

Granted, CPS’ approach, or lack thereof, at the rally was bungled from the get-go, and the police admitted as much. However, Levant’s assertions of political influence, calling the police liars, alleging bias, willful blindness, and a hand-off approach out of concern for maintaining diversity  is not just untrue, but grossly irresponsible.

Alas, responsible journalism is a lousy means of inciting backlash.

While there’s no excusing the violence that occurred at the July 18 rally, as the police rightly noted: both sides were at fault.  What transpired was the result of a small segment of agitators from both sides looking for a fight.

There’s a reason Levant failed to delve into the profiles of some of the Pro-Israel protesters as did those on the pro-Palestinian side: It would kill his narrative.

For example: Two of the pro-Israel demonstrators involved in the scuffle – including the man in the orange shirt featured in the ‘evidence’ photos Levant himself helped circulate – are well-known provocateurs Merle Terlesky and Jeff Willerton: a pair notorious for an altercation at Calgary’s 2006 Pride parade, where, waving “No Pride In Sodomy” signs and shouting homophobic slurs at marchers, Terlesky was punched to the ground.

But facts be damned, Levant’s got an axe in desperate need of grinding and persecutory delusions screaming for validation; So on Thurday, July 31, Levant will host his own rally, a “REAL Canadian” rally.

A “rally to take back Canadian streets from violent thugs!”

The successful, peaceful, pro-Israel rally which was held in the days following the contentious rally was an inadequate repudiation of the violence, it seems.

And not-at-all lucrative.

Just as freedom isn’t free, outrage doesn’t come cheap, and Lord knows Levant isn’t about to fund this traveling circus.

As Levant admits in his call to action/invitation to the rally/plea for donations: “This isn’t about Israel or Gaza at all.”

Indeed. This is about Levant; about feeding his ego and growing his brand, not to mention his bank account.


On The Media, Journalism, And The Willingness To Support it

It has been a tough month for journalism.

Reports of mass layoffs and (select) publication suspensions at Postmedia engulfed the twitterverse late Monday afternoon, the second such round of job cuts for Postmedia, who earlier this month opted to close their wire service, returning to the content produced by the Canadian Press.

It was just weeks ago that Globe & Mail was asking staff to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave in an effort to curb expenses over the summer months.

And now that both Postmedia and the Globe & Mail plan to erect a paywall around a given portion of their content, similar to the one successfully implemented by the New York Times, the predictably vacuous back and forth between the stalwarts of ‘new’ and ‘old’ media has again erupted.

Now, it’s hardly a secret that I’m a media/news junkie; addicted to information, advocating for quality journalism. The reasons for which I stumbled into the realm of politics/media I have never widely discussed. And for the purpose of this post, will continue to refrain from doing. In the wake of Monday’s news, however, I wanted to take moment to briefly touch on my experience with the industry, including the people whom I have come to admire, respect, and in some cases, to know as friends.

It was 2005 that I suddenly found myself with hours upon hours of vacant time (previously occupied by a gruelling training schedule (35 hours/week), work (20 hours/week), and school) and I was in desperate need of a distraction. Or more importantly, a purpose.

Having always had an interest in politics and the media/journalism, I used my circumstances as an excuse to immerse myself in both, and pursue a curiosity I had previously sidelined when I opted for a an academic path more closely related to my athletic career.

Admittedly, when I began my quest to discover as much as I could about the world of journalism and how the media worked, I held a certain level of disdain toward ‘the MSM’, and a few organizations in particular – one of which happened to be Canwest, now known as Postmedia.

Due to my ignorance at the time, I based my view of an entire organization on the workings of  a handful of asinine columnists/editorial writers who’d managed to infuriate me on a daily basis (Gunter, Corbella, Martinuk, to name a few). However, once I had sufficiently acquainted myself with the various sources (and platforms) of information, I began to look at Canwest (Postmedia), and ‘the MSM’ as a whole, in a different way. Rather than associating a given piece of written work with a given media chain (which, as a neophyte, I had foolishly been doing), I instead focused on who was doing the writing. (Quite the ‘revelation’, I know … )

I compiled a list of editors, columnists, and reporters whose work I most enjoyed, who I found to be the greatest source of information and informed analysis/commentary. In doing so, I quickly shed the stereotypical view of ‘the MSM’ as overly biased and/or untrustworthy, and found a good number of those on my ‘favourites’ list were those at Canwest (Postmedia).

I closely followed the work of my ‘favourites’ for years, using what they had written on a given matter as a base from which to embark on hours of research on the issue at hand, for no reason (aside from the ongoing glut of time to fill) other than to satiate my desire to learn about that with which I was unfamiliar. I gained an appreciation of the amount of work required for a single piece of (exceptional) writing, and though I still followed (and supported) various ‘non MSM’ news sites/writers, I began to value the content produced by the traditional print media/journalists at an entirely different level.

I joined twitter during that period as well, and it (obviously) became my network of choice, providing the ability to share what I had read with others, the chance to discuss/debate issues with experts on various matters, and the opportunity connect with the very people whose work I’d followed for years.

Shortly thereafter, I wanted to begin writing about politics and the media (and eventually did, via this blog) but felt like an impostor of sorts; I had no formal journalistic training (read: no J-school), and as far as I was concerned, had no business in the area whatsoever. But with the help of some fine political bloggers and journalists who’d embraced me on twitter, I mustered up the courage to begin to write publicly.

Not that I was (or am, for that matter) particularly good at it, mind you, but I was confident in my ability to research and seemed able to find the words necessary to form seemingly coherent finished products.

And much to my surprise (and delight), I wasn’t mocked; wasn’t shunned by the political/journo community for not being ‘one of them.’ In fact, I received many messages of encouragement, and as the years pressed on and death was no longer the final prognosis, I found I had a new passion outside of the life I had previously known, and the very ‘MSM’ I found suspect back in 2005 had not only become my most trusted source of information (and wicked smart analysis), but a handful of those journalists had offered advice/guidance. Others, friendship.

In addition to the remarkable work they do and the unparalleled in quality content they have a hand in producing, those in print media are some of the finest people I’ve had the fortune of getting to know.

It’s for these reasons that I’m more than willing do my part in keeping their industry alive.

I subscribe to my local Postmedia paper (Calgary Herald), and pay an additional monthly fee to access Postmedia archives. I do the same with the Globe and Mail (Globe Plus), and the Toronto Star. I subscribe to numerous political magazines/weeklies as well, including The Hill Times, Embassy Mag, and Maclean’s, and U.S. publications Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, The Nation, and Mother Jones. (Yes, I still consume news at a ridiculous rate. I very much enjoy it, though don’t quite have the glut of time I relied on to do so before.)

People are quick to complain when the media (in their view) fails to do its job. However, it’s those same people are the least willing to pitch in and ensure there are journalists employed to do the job they are demanding be done.

In my view, there is no question as to the importance of journalism in the traditional sense. That standard of journalism costs money.  Though I don’t have the solution for what ails the industry, I will continue to do my part in sustaining it for as long as it’s around, and hope others will soon come to the same conclusion.

9/11 – A Decade Later

Take this opportunity to educate yourself of the facts surrounding the rise of Radical Islam, Neo-Conservatism, and the Politics of Fear. It may change the way you view the attacks of September 11, the subsequent “war on terror,” and the never-ending wars in the Middle East.

For those largely unfamiliar American Politics, you’ll be surprised to learn how long notorious figures of the George W.Bush administration, namely Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, have been on the political scene.

The BBC Documentary Series: The Power Of Nightmares 

Part 1 –  “Baby it’s Cold Outside“

Part 2 –  “The Phantom Victory”

Part 3 – “The Shadows in the Cave”

Summary/explainer courtesy of CBC’s The Passionate Eye:

Part 1 – Baby It’s Cold Outside

Sayyed Qutb: Father of Radical Islam
In the 1950s Sayyed Qutb, an Egyptian civil servant was sent to the U.S. to learn about its public education system. As he traveled around the county, Qutb became increasingly disgusted by what he felt was the selfish and materialistic nature of American life.

When he returned to Egypt, Qutb turned into a revolutionary. Determined to find some way to control the forces of selfish individualism that he saw in America, he envisioned an Arab society where Islam would play a more central role. He became an influential spokesperson in the Muslim Brotherhood but was jailed after some of its members attempted to assassinate Egyptian President Nasser.

In prison a more radical Qutb wrote several books which argued that extreme measures, including deception and even violence, could be justified in an effort to restore shared moral values to society. He was executed in 1966 for treason in Egypt. But his ideas lived on and formed the basis of the radical Islamist movement.

Leo Strauss: A Neo-Conservative
At the same time Leo Strauss, an American professor of political philosophy, also came to see western liberalism as corrosive to morality and to society. Like Qutb, Strauss believed that individual freedoms threatened to tear apart the values which held society together. He taught his students that politicians should assert powerful and inspiring myths – like religion or the myth of the nation – that everyone could believe in.

A group of young students, including Paul Wolfowitz, Francis Fukuyama and William Kristol studied Strauss’ ideas and formed a loose group in Washington which became known as the neo-conservatives. They set out to create a myth of America as a unique nation whose destiny was to battle against evil in the world.

Both Qutb and Strauss were idealists whose ideas were born out of the failure of the liberal dream to build a better world. The two movements they inspired set out, in their different ways, to rescue their societies from this decay.

Two Movements
By creating an alliance with the growing Christian fundamentalist movement in America the neo-conservatives rose to power during the Reagan administration. Senior American civil servants and politicians came to believe their view that the Soviet Union was an evil force against which the U.S. should be presented as a force for good.

The neo-conservatives turned to fear in order to pursue their vision and created a hidden network of evil run by the Soviet Union that only they could see. They used anti-communist propaganda which included Donald Rumsfeld’s over-estimation of Soviet military technology and the William Casey led CIA assertion that various terrorist organizations were backed by the Soviet Union to further their cause.

At the same time, the Islamists faced a refusal of the masses to follow their dream and began to turn to terror to force the people to “see the truth”. Underground Islamic leaders like Ayman Zawahiri, who would become a mentor to Osama bin Laden, ordered the assassination of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat in an attempt to shock the masses into seeing their version of reality.

Afghanistan: A Battleground 

In 1979, Soviet forces invaded Afghanistan. War in this remote country marked the beginning of key battleground in the Cold War and an extraordinary alliance between radical Islamists in Afghanistan and around the world and the neo-conservatives in the U.S.

Washington provided money and arms including Stinger missiles capable of shooting down Soviet helicopters. But it was Islamic Mujahideen fighters who would fire them. Among the many radical Islamists drawn to Afghanistan was a young, wealthy Saudi called Osama Bin Laden. Long before 9/11, he was seen by neo-conservatives in Washington as one of their foot soldiers, helping fight America’s cause.

After nearly 10 years of fighting, Soviet troops pulled out of Afghanistan and shortly afterwards, their own government collapsed.

Both the neo-conservatives and the Islamists believed that it is they who defeated the “evil empire” and now had the power to transform the world.

Part 2 –  The Phantom Victory

The neo-conservatives – determined to push on with their agenda – were convinced that there were other evil regimes that needed to be conquered in order to spread democracy. So they turned their focus to Saddam Hussein, who had just invaded Kuwait. But at the end of the first Gulf War, President Reagan was not in power and the neo-conservatives no longer had a leader that shared their vision. Once Kuwait was secured, President George HW Bush called a halt to the fighting.

The neo-conservatives turned to the religious right and began a campaign to bring moral and religious issues back into the center of conservative politics. And they invented a new enemy, Bill Clinton, focusing on the scandal surrounding him and Monica Lewinsky.

Meanwhile, the Islamists descended into a cycle of violence and terror to persuade people to follow them. They launched attacks against the leaders of the Arab world – in Egypt and Algeria – to overthrow what they believed were corrupt regimes. Then they began using bloody terrorist attacks to shock ordinary people into rising up.

But both groups failed in their revolutions. The neo-conservatives did not succeed in their attempt to impeach Bill Clinton because polls showed that Americans simply didn’t care about the moral issues involved. And the Islamists – lacking the popular support to topple regimes across the Arab world – returned to Afghanistan.

Defeated, the Islamists formed a new strategy. In the late 1990s Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, leader of Egyptian Islamic Jihad and a follower of Sayyid Qutb, paid the Taliban to allow them to recruit and train Islamist fighters for attacks on a new enemy – the U.S. The new jihad would be against the source of corruption itself.

Zawahiri and bin Laden began to implement their new strategy in the late 90’s. Suicide bombings outside American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania attracted the attention of the West. And the neo-conservatives now had a new phantom enemy.

Then bin Laden funded a plan first proposed by an Islamic militant, Khalid Sheik Mohammed. On September 11th, 2001 19 hijackers brought down the World Trade Center, killed thousands of Americans and shocked the world.

But the attacks had another dramatic effect: they brought the neo-conservative agenda back into the forefront.

Part 3 – The Shadows in the Cave

In the wake of the shock and panic created by the devastating attack on the World Trade Center, the neo-conservatives reconstructed the radical Islamists in the image of their last evil enemy, the Soviet Union.

They created a sinister web of terror run by Osama bin Laden from his lair in Afghanistan. And they were able to convince George W. Bush to begin a “War on Terror”.

The war in Afghanistan removed bin Laden’s main source of recruits, but the U.S. military and the Northern Alliance also captured and killed many people in the Taliban camps that had nothing to do with bin Laden’s goal.

The story circulated that bin Laden and the core of al-Qaeda had retreated to a complex in Tora Bora, but an exhaustive search revealed no sign of an underground fortress.

The arrests of various groups of suspected terrorists in the U.S. following the September 11 attacks failed to find any substantial evidence of terrorist sleeper cells. Similarly, in the UK, arrests under new terrorism laws have resulted in only three convictions of Islamists, all for fundraising or possessing Islamist literature.

Much of the media coverage of potential terrorist attacks also became highly speculative and sensational. There were reports that al-Qaeda was poised to use a radiological weapon, referred to as a “dirty bomb”, which would kill thousands of people. But nuclear scientists argued that this was a false threat. They said that a “dirty bomb” wouldn’t kill many people from fallout because the radioactive material would be spread thinly by any explosion.

Still, the neo-conservatives had found they could use the threat of Islamist terrorism and claimed that they had found hidden links between al-Qaeda and their old enemy, Saddam Hussein. Iraq became an important enemy against which to unite the U.S., and other politicians such as Tony Blair who wanted to play an important role in protecting their countries from attack.

Politicians and counter-terrorist agents have decided that they must be pro-active in imagining the worst possible attacks and in stopping those who seem likely to carry out attacks. They are convinced that it’s the only way to save the world from a looming catastrophe.

Further viewing: 2011 Maddow/Engel Documentary – Day Of Destruction, Decade of War 

Great reads:

This Is What War Looks Like – The aftermath of the 9/11 attacks took photojournalist Kate Brooks to Afghanistan and Pakistan to cover the fall of the Taliban.

Those Who Face Death  – Photojournalist Kate Brooks spent the decade after 9/11 photographing the U.S. military struggles and political upheaval in the Greater Middle East. The following collection is from her time in Iraq in 2003-2004.

Fareed Zakaria –  Reflections on 9/11 and its aftermath
Juan Cole – A tale of two Afghan Leaders, before and after 9/11
Noam Chomsky The Imperial Mentality and 9/11
Foreign Policy Mag The Black Hole of 9/11
A Television News Archive – Understanding 9/11
Foreign Policy MagThe 9/11 Anniversary Reader: FAIL edition
Foreign Policy Mag9/11 from Arab Shores
Globe & Mail – The Muslim world’s 9/11 generation emerges from a long shadow 
Al Jazeera – The Decade of 9/11: war without end
SlateTrutherism 2011: The Rise and Fall of the 9/11 Conspiracy Theory
Doug Saunders – Al-Qaeda’s zealots of yesteryear turning to politics, democracy
The Nation – The Years Since 9/11: A Lost Decade
Mother Jones – Patriot Acts
Paul KrugmanThe Years of Shame 
The AtlanticThe Soldier and the Rap Star: A Tale of Two Post-9/11 Students 
Michael Ignatieff9/11 and the age of sovereign failure 
Daily Mail UKThe 9/11 victims America Wants To Forget – the 200 jumpers who’ve been ‘airbrushed from history’
Alternet“I Stayed to Fight” — Being a Muslim Immigrant in Post 9/11 America 
ReutersDecade after 9/11, Afghans languish in Pakistan 
The Independent9/11 lost decade: The American dream, and the missing years 
Reuters – Iraq: Victim or beneficiary of September 11 attacks?
Washington PostPublic sees wars in Iraq, Afghanistan as least effective means of reducing terrorism 
New York TimesOne 9/11 tally – 3.3 Trillion 

On TV:

National Geographic Channel – 9/11 and the American Dream  (Phenominal footage of the day’s events)
Raw Story – Paul Simon performs ‘The Sound of Silence’ at Ground Zero


Eminem – Mosh

Sun News Network: Let The (Incredibly Lazy) Astroturfing Begin!

It has been fascinating to watch the Conservative campaign strategy evolve over the past two weeks; working in tandem with Sun TV in a quest to secure a Harper majority, and to destroy the opposition leaders.

Aside from the standard issued talking points submitted by the Conservative war room and subsequently written into Sun TV scripts, the Tories are running a co-ordinated effort with their Sun Media counterparts as they try desperately to reach that magical number of 155 seats.

Take for instance, week number one (April 18-22) where the focus was entirely on Michael Ignatieff, the Liberal Party, and the ‘threat’ of a coalition:

Brian Lilley, on Ignatieff and the Liberals:

“Michael Igantieff wants to be in power, but do we know where he stands?  He has flipped and flopped on so many big issues that it’s tough to know.  Look at his parliamentary record. Look at where he and his party stands. A quick glance shows that they would bring about a national daycare program to raise your kids for you, and they’d regulate what you can do with your own children by outlawing spanking and any use of force.

Now that part’s important.

Any use of force would be illegal. That could include making it illegal for you to strap your two year old, your wiggly two year old, into their car seat against their will … no parent would be allowed to strap their screming kid into a mini van.

The Liberlas would also expand ‘harm reduction sites’ from Vancouver to other major cities across Canada. What does that mean? Government sanctioned (drug) shooting galleries in a neighbourhood near you.

Oh, and convicts in jail? They’ll get ‘harm reduction’ as well. That’s right, free smack for junkies in jail and a needle exchange program to administer illegal drugs in Canada’s prisons.”

Note, that the ‘harm reduction site’ Lilley despises so much refers to Insite, Vancouver’s safe injection site which Harper has been fighting to have shut down despite clear, scientific, evidence the program saves lives.

You can listen to Lilley, Adler, and Levant discussing this issue, and alternatives  to Insite (such as dumping drug addicts in a deserted place – yes that what Lilley actually proposes), BY CLICKING HERE.

(Let’s not forget Lilley’s “Exclusive: Ignatieff planned the Iraq war!” fabrication, which made star appearance during their first week on the air.)

Enter the weekend, a monumental surge in the polls by Jack Layton and the NDP, and a shift in strategy for week number two (April 25-29), the week of Sun Media’s “Layton caught in Bawdy house!” smear campaign.

Charles Adler, on Layton and the NDP (April 26):

“Jack Layton’s resemblence to Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou – it’s uncanny, both in appearance, and in policy.

NDP love for big government has the potential to turn Canada into the next Greece, with a top heave public sector that could break the neck of the economy. This prospect is scaring a lot of citizens of Adler Nation.

From Peter in Port Rowan, Ontario, he says ‘in my youth I lived in Communist East Germany and we had to adore Vladimir Lenin – now I see a remarkable physical likeness in Layton to Lenin – their socialist policies are pretty close also. De we really want that kind of a Country? God help us and do not let this come to pass.’

Wait a minute … Jack Layton, George Papandreou, Vladimir Lenin – it’s getting a little eerie, don’t you think? Three men, three moustaches, three power alley hair-do’s …”

“Layton doesn’t need 100 (seats) to become Prime Minister. He could do it with fewer than 80. What are the consequences of a coalition led either by the NDP or by the Liberals? David Frum made that clear last night, said that Harper would not govern if he get’s a minority. And the premise is, if Harper doesn’t get the magic 155 seat total, Jack — with the help of Igantieff and Duceppe — Jack could move into 24 Sussex with Olivia.

The ‘Stop Jack’ campaign, in the next few days, may proove meaningless if the blood is already in the water.”

Adler and his favourite (not-an-actual) Liberal Dan Donovan, on Layton (April 29):

Adler – “At this point, what’s most important, I think you and I could agree, what’s most important is not having the NDP at 24 Sussex, I think that’s what’s crucial. So here’s my question to you: If the Liberals end up in the number three spot as now appears likely, if they’re number three will they be willing to do some sort of deal with Stephen Harper, to give the Country as much stability as possible, and to keep Jack and Olivia out of 24 Sussex? I think that’s the question tonight that most people are most interested in pursuing.”

Donovan – “We’ve agreed and disagreed on many things over the past year, but I think one thing we both can agree on is that Jack Layton would be an absolute calamity for this country, and I think a lot of Liberals, like myself, who want reform in the party and want us to reach further and do things better do not see a Jack Layton led coalition.”

Take note of Adler’s statement from April 26: “The ‘Stop Jack’ campaign, in the next few days, may proove meaningless if the blood is already in the water.”

Two days later, on April 28, the domain www.liberalsforharper.ca was registered, and the ‘stop Layton’ Astroturf campaign was officially launched. That evening, Stephen Taylor, director of the National Citizen’s Coalition (NCC), wondered aloud if there were “Liberals out there who would rather vote for Harper than see Jack Layton form any sort of government.”

On the morning of April 29, Taylor introduced liberalsforharper.ca to the public for the first time, feigning ignorance of its origin in the process.

That evening Adler spent a good portion of his show promoting the liberalsforharper.ca cause (as detailed above),  building on a plea he issued to readers earlier in the day:

 “A few years back, (Ignatieff) cracked a few standing beside Stephane Dion. There is very little doubt that when the clock strikes 12 on Monday night, the party of Chretien and Trudeau will have struck out, finishing No. 3 for the first time ever. The big question on Tuesday morning will be, how does the Grit family deal with sickly Uncle Grit?

On Tuesday morning, Dr. Stephen Harper must scrub up, then go into the operating room.

The PM needs to find the right scalpel to save Uncle Grit’s life. If he can find a way to give Michael Ignatieff a shred of dignity, he might be able to prevent Ignatieff from seeking revenge by cutting a deal with Jack Layton, making the NDP leader prime minister.

There is a coalition government in Britain today. It was formed by the party that got the most seats with the party that got the third-most. It was formed by the Conservatives and Liberals. Do we still have a British parliamentary system?

Suck it up boys. The country is surely worth it.”

On April 30, Harper himself began trumpeting the liberalsforharper.ca strategy, both on the campaign trail and through the media, telling the Toronto Star,

“I believe that as the choice becomes clear … a lot of traditional, Liberal, moderate voters, are going to look and going to say that the Conservative platform — and where the Conservative Party is taking the economy — is a hell of a lot closer to what I think than what the NDP has in its platform …”

“I think a lot of Liberals who understand that, are going to think twice and I think ultimately, rather than follow their party blindly down an alley toward the kind of merger with the NDP that Mr. Ignatieff mused about, I think they will take a hard look at voting for this (Conservative) party, and I welcome that.”

As Canadians head to the polls in what, by all accounts, promises to be an historic election, it’ll be interesting to see how the partnership bewteen the Conservatives, Sun Media, and the NCC continues to unfold.

If Harper fails to get his majority, you can be sure Sun Media will be urging Liberals to ‘do the responsible thing’ and ‘save the country from Layton,’ knowing full well a full merger between the Liberals and the NDP is a very real possibility.

And if that happens, the prospect of a Conservative government completely evaporates, not only for the current election cycle, but quite possibly well into the future.

Cross-posted at rabble.ca 

Below is an actual picture from Adler’s show, comparing Layton to Lenin

Sun News Network: Because Facts Have A Well Known Liberal Bias

“Folks, this is gonna be a thing.” ~ Sun TV host Theo Caldwell

Sun News Network, a channel brought to by its own sense of self importance, is the epitome of pseudo-journalism comprised of (self professed) semi-literate on-air personalities with the combined intellectual curiosity of failed Vice Presidential candidate and former half-term Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin.

Irresponsible at best, the inherent lack of journalistic integrity is an insult not only to the many well-established, credible, hard working news organizations across the country, but to Canadians who’ve come to expect both accuracy and honesty in reporting.

Simply put, Sun TV is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Conservative Party of Canada, the National Citizen’s Coalition, and the Canadian network of industry funded, Right-leaning ‘think tanks’ dedicated to promoting a given agenda.

Modeling itself after Fox News – ‘Hard News’ in the morning and throughout the afternoon, followed by “Straight Talk” opinion programming during prime time evening hours – it’s hardly surprising that like their southern counterparts, there is little to distinguish between the two.

Take for instance ‘Straight Talker’ and host of Byline, Brian Lilley.

Three days into its network debut, Sun TV’s ‘Hard News’ team began the day with an “exclusive” report from Lilley, who suggested Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff was “on the front lines of (the Iraq War) pre-invasion planning.”

‘Hard News’ host Neelam Verma dedicated her entire two-hour show to covering the “bombshell” report, often wondering aloud whether Canadians “know the REAL Michael Ignatieff.”

Joining Verma in “exposing Ignatieff” was Lilley himself, along with Sun TV’s ‘Hard News’ analysts Brigitte Pellerin (wife of Sun Media columnist & Sun TV contributor John Robson, and founder of Canada’s anti-choice movement Pro Woman Life,) and Alex Mihailovich.

Among the notable statement to arise from the two hour assault on reality:

Lilley:  “Ignatieff was on the front lines of pre-invasion planning … his own words show he was intimately involved.”

Verma:  “This is really important information right before the election.”

Pellerin: (noting Ignatieff professed to have been on the sidelines) “Why do I feel this Bill Clintonian debate here by the meaning of sidelines? Really!”

“This new information shows that indeed he was on the front lines. His role was in the pre invasion planning.”

Mihailovich:  “I keep hearing over and over ‘compassion’ coming out of (Ignatieff’s) mouth and how compassionate he is and how Liberals are about compassion … Ignatieff himself was in the war room. He was in the background. He was planning this stuff out. He was helping the US build towards a war.”

“Ignatieff was involved with the US government planning the Iraq war – that’s the bottom line …. Ignatieff was in on the Iraq war”

“I have a document here; This isn’t written by Ignatieff but this is from one of the centers that he chaired, looking at civilian body count and what would be acceptable. Now these are not words of compassion, in my eyes. This is something far beyond. This is cold and constantly it is something these guys in the back room do to go forward, and he was a part of this … Now all of a sudden he’s a peacknik of sorts and he’s compassionate? Like, really!”

Pellerin:  “This is going to be a revelation for a lot of Canadians for how deeply involved Ignatieff was in these ‘cold calculations.’ “

“You can bet the term ‘flip flop’ will be used a lot today, and in the coming days. This is really damaging info.”

“Will the real Michael Ignatieff please stand up?”

Verma:  “Do you think it will have an impact on how Canadians vote?”

Mihailovich:  “I hope it does.”

“The amount of flip-flopping we’re seeing here is unprecedented.”

Where Verma’s morning show left off, subsequent ‘Hard News’ programs picked up, delivering eleven straight hours of fomented outrage, which was then followed by five ‘Straight Talk’ hours of rhetorical hyperbole.

Given the amount of time, and effort, dedicated solely to the coverage of Lilley’s “earth shattering investigative journalism,” one would assume the accusations regarding Ignatieff’s involvement in the Iraq war were unequivocal; that the article was thoroughly vetted and meticulously fact checked, as is standard procedure with all credible news organizations.

Of course, that would require Sun Media (Quebecor/QMI) to be either credible or a news organization, neither of which it qualifies as.

Within hours of the report saturating the Sun TV airwaves, respected journalist Glen McGregor put Lilley to shame by swiftly, and thoroughly, disproving the entire premise of his piece.

Following a run down of the facts regarding Ignatieff and his activities with the Carr Center for Human Rights, including listing multiple NGO’s in attendance for the “Understanding Collateral Damage” conference, McGregor levels the following blow:

“If the Sun was unaware these groups also participated in ‘invasion planning,’ that’s just shoddy reporting. It took me four minutes to find the participants list on the Carr Center website.

If the Sun knew and chose not to include this fact in the story, readers can draw their own conclusions about the integrity of the reporter and his news organization.”


Ironically, “Hard News” personality Krista Erickson hosts a ‘Media Monitor’ segment with Lilley wherein they heap criticism on other media personalities; the first one taking place two days after Lilley’s failed attempt at investigative reporting.

In the category, “Barefaced Bias”, Lilley scolds the CBC’s Peter Mansbridge for his interview  with Ignatieff versus his interview with Stephen Harper.

Lilley: “the tone was different … with Ignatieff it was relaxed, it was sitting back, it was in his studio; it was cordial. There was a much more aggressive nature with Stephen Harper than there was with Michael Ignatieff. (Mansbridge) constantly interrupted him … Harper is constantly interrupted.”

Assuming Lilley watched both interviews, he had to have known, as was explained by Mansbridge at the beginning of each, it was the politicians who chose the manner in which to be interviewed. Ignatieff was “relaxed, sitting back, in studio” because he chose the “in studio” option. Harper, on the other hand, selected “location of choice,” his choice being to stand awkwardly inside a minor Hockey arena.

Lilley’s suggestion that Harper was “constantly interrupted” by Mansbridge is countered by observations made by respected journalist, and national editor of Maclean’s magazine, Andrew Coyne:

It’s telling that in interviews Harper simply talks through and over questions he does not wish to answer. The interviewer asks a question. Harper talks around it. So the interviewer tries to follow up. At that point most (people) yield long enough to at least listen to the question. Harper does not. He just ploughs on. He won’t take the cue. Saw that (with) Mansbridge, now (with) FriesenCan’t recall whether he was always that way, or only since becoming (Prime Minister). But that absolute refusal to yield the floor is not incidental.

Next, Lilley names Tonda MacCharles of the Toronto Star as the “Sloppiest Story” of the week, referring to her coverage of controversial remarks made by Conservative candidate Brad Trost about the funding status of funding of Planned Parenthood.

Lilley claims MacCharles “failed to contact the International Planned Parenthood Federation in London, England,” claiming he did, and was told “the election got in the way” of their funding and “there’s no problem with the Harper government.”

Had Lilley bothered to read past the first paragraph of the article, he’d have come across this:

“William Stairs, chief of staff in Oda’s ministerial office said in an email to the Star late Wednesday that despite Trost’s claim, no decision has yet been made on Planned Parenthood’s application because CIDA is ‘still reviewing the file.’

Brad Trost did not respond to the Star’s queries.

Ryan Sparrow, spokesman for the national Conservative campaign, responded late Wednesday via email, and did not deny that the group had been turned down.

He said only: ‘We base funding decisions on the quality of the proposals we receive. We are proud of our international assistance record and we are proud of the results that have been accomplished under our Conservative government.’

CIDA had not yet responded to the Star’s questions on the Planned Parenthood’s funding applications.”

In light of recent reports which detail Planned Parenthood’s struggle with the Harper Government, it begs the question whether Lilley spoke with the organization at all.

Elizabeth Payne of Postmedia writes:

“In 2010, while Prime Minister Stephen Harper was getting kudos for putting maternal health on the international radar screen, Canada, for the first time in 40 years, provided no money to support an organization which is one of the world’s biggest health providers to vulnerable women.

As a result, International Planned Parenthood Federation was forced to draw on reserve dollars and had to make cuts to some technical services to make up a $6-million shortfall, officials at the organization’s London office confirmed.”

So, that’s journalism : 2 –  Lilley: 0.

Evidently, the Sun News Network can’t even accurately consume the news, let alone report on it. It’s a woefully inadequate, amateurish parody of itself, destined to fail miserably once viewers have to start paying subscription fees.

It will, however, be interesting to see who the ‘champions of the free market’ point the finger at following when they meet their inevitable demise.

George Soros? The ‘homosexual agenda’? Muslims? Frank Graves? The Human Right’s Commissions?

Ah,who am I kidding? They’ll blame the CBC.

Cross-posted at rabble.ca