Re: Death By Pseudoscience – The Misinformation Campaign

First, a quick review of the facts:

David and Collet Stephan are on trial for failing to provide the necessaries of life — for failing to seek medical care for their son in a reasonably prudent time/manner. They are NOT on trial for murder or manslaughter.

Ezekiel Stephan died from bacterial meningitis, the kind which is vaccine-preventable and when promptly and properly treated, can be fully recovered from.

The child did NOT have viral meningitis


The bacterial meningitis was at such an advanced state by the time Ezekiel finally reached hospital, he was clinically brain dead and sepsis was coursing through his bloodstream; the post-mortem revealed pus on his brain, in his spinal fluid, and on his right lung.

These facts are 100% knowable, and known, and irrefutable. People lie, autopsies and medical reports do not.

The child’s health deteriorated for weeks: he was displaying neurological abnormalities (likely small seizures) and was neither eating nor drinking, but sustained through an eyedropper, as the parents stuck to the “game plan” they’d drafted to “use as many natural things” as possible before resorting to proper medical intervention.

As Ezekiel lay dying in hospital, his parents were defending the efficacy of their plan.

The CBC reports:

Asked by the officer whether he considered himself an expert in naturopathic remedies, Stephan said no.

“Do we have a formal education? No. Are we educated in it? Absolutely,” he said. “Has it worked for us in every single scenario in the past before this? Yes.”

Ezekiel was regularly given vitamin and mineral supplements, said his father, who is a vice-president of Truehope Nutritional Support Inc., a natural remedies company founded by his father, Anthony Stephan.

“And then when he was sick there, we were giving him, above and beyond that, the olive root extract, which is an antifungal, antiviral, it’s a very powerful one.”

The mother told investigators that the nurse-friend she called to check on Ezekiel advised he was showing symptoms of meningitis, and yet she ignored the friend’s advice to take the child to see a medical doctor. 

Instead, Collet “went online and researched meningitis … and it looked like he had about 95 per cent of those, the symptoms of a viral meningitis.”

Again from the CBC:

The mother told the officer she immediately started giving Ezekiel natural antibiotics and anti-inflammatories, along with a product called Total Reload, “which is filled with electrolytes, vitamins … and amino acids that are already a broke-down form of protein,” she said.

“And so we started getting that into him immediately and he started to improve very quickly.”

Total Reload is one of several natural supplement products sold by Truehope Nutritional Support Inc.

That “improvement” included his body being visibly contorted and too stiff to sit in his car seat when they sought out the Naturopath and purchased an Echinacea mixture to administer to the child.

Ezekiel was given another Truehope product called Empowerplus which, according to the father, “had obviously a profound effect on him, and he was doing great, he ended up going right to sleep and it was a completely relaxed sleep, he was no longer arching his back.”

No longer arching his back, and soon, no longer breathing.

The Stephans called 911 twice — with a 23 minute gap in-between. For a full 23 minutes after Ezekiel first exhibited signs of respiratory distress – the father counted 5- and 6-second gaps between breaths – the Stephans opted to ‘wait and see’ as Ezekiel struggled to breathe for nearly a half-hour.

Ezekiel did not die from lack of oxygen, nor was his brain affected by time in Ambulance without a properly fitting face-mask. The child was being worked on by paramedics the entire time.

Brain death from oxygen is markedly different from brain death from meningitis, and both the CT scan in hospital and autopsy conformed there were NO signs of brain damage or death from oxygen deprivation.

The child died from “a cardiac arrest secondary to what was likely a hypoxic event because of his overwhelming bacterial meningitis.”

Further to Ezekiel’s diagnosis and likely state of health, a paediatrician explains:

Dr. Adeagbo concluded that Ezekiel died from both bacterial meningitis as well as pneumonia with an accompanying empyema. Empyema is typically diagnosed in the setting of a bacterial pneumonia when pus collects within the lining of the lung.
So what does this mean? It certainly makes sense from a clinical perspective. Ezekiel likely developed bacterial pneumonia caused by infection by either S. pneumo or HiB, which went untreated and developed into an empyema. At this point surgical drainage is usually necessary for recovery in addition to appropriate antibiotic treatment. His bloodstream was repeatedly showered with the pathogenic bacteria, which eventually made its way to the child’s brain.

This new information adds to my suspicion that Ezekiel was much more ill-appearing than described by his parents and the nurse who visited the family’s home. Although there may have been some degree of waxing and waning of his symptoms, particularly with the fever he almost certainly developed during the course of his illness, I am very skeptical of claims that he had any significant recovery just prior to his arrest. This also makes it more likely that he suffered a great deal prior to his death.

Those who’ve been following this case will be familiar with the aggressive misinformation campaign mounted by the Stephans and their apologists/supporters.

A few to note:

Karen Selick, who I’ve touched on before.

Selick is acting as part of the Stephan’s PR campaign, and her connections to Anthony Stephan and Truehope go back to 2004 (more of her beliefs in dubious alternative health treatments are detailed here as well.)

She has a long history of working along side a man named Shawn Buckley — president of the Natural Health Products Protection Association (NHPPA – an alt-med/health lobby) and defence lawyer for David and Collet Stephan.

He previously represented Truehope/Anthony Stephan in the fight with Health Canada.

Buckley was supposed to be at a recent Total Health Show in Toronto, but couldn’t attend due to the trial. 

Selick was there, though, and distributing photocopies of her (now pulled) op-ed for the Lethbridge Herald (a nearly identical version still appears on Huffington Post Canada) where she lies about my column for the National Post and about the case itself.

Danielle Smith had Selick on her radio program to repeat a number of untruths about the case, completely unchallenged.

Smith later hosted a man named Ian Stewart to present the “other side” of the story.

Stewart is Vice-President of the NHPPA and Director of Regulatory Affairs for Truehope.
He is also the one behind the Stephan’s Stand 4 Truth blog where he offers a skewed interpretation of events from the trial.

Stewart was on Smith’s show – again completely without question – to misinform about the case and push the defence’s big ‘bombshell.’
Both Stewart and Selick (with many thanks to Danielle Smith) were instrumental in pushing the, as described by another member of the Stephan family:

Massive massive system shaking scandal coming out in court tomorrow as Albertas Recently retired Chief Medical Examiner testifies AGAINST the crowns star witness and the Provinicial Government specifically regarding this case!!!!!!!!!! Massive cover up!!!!!!

Here’s what you need to know about Dr. Anny Sauvageau:

Her qualifications and credentials have come under scrutiny before. She is not board-certified or trained in forensic pathology, nor does she have license to practice medicine in Alberta.

She did not, at any point, examine the child and her nonsensical testimony and blatant misreading of the autopsy would have medical professionals calling for her to be stripped of her medical license — but she doesn’t have one.

There’s much, much more to write about the many players involved in this case, the multitude of conspiracy theories they’ve concocted regarding the trial and the case itself, and the trail of lies from all involved which, thanks to testimony from medical professionals and recorded police interviews, have been exposed as such.

For now, however, just be aware of what you’re being sold when you’re presented with other versions of this tragic story, and by whom.

Legitimizing Pseudoscience: What’s The Harm?

This column ran in The National Post on March 24, 2016.

(Response to Karen Selick’s lies found below this piece)

After weeks of trying “natural” extracts and homemade remedies like smoothies cut with ginger root and horseradish to cure a suspected case of meningitis, 19-month-old Ezekiel Stephan’s tiny body had so deteriorated that he was too stiff to bend. Unable to be sit in his car seat, Ezekiel’s parents, David and Collet, loaded a mattress into the back of their vehicle to take him to a health practitioner — not a doctor.

They planned to drive to Lethbridge, Alta., to visit a naturopath, whose clinic they’d contacted days earlier in search of something to “boost Ezekiel’s immune system.”

Only after their son stopped breathing did the Stephans think it wise to call 911. In a desperate bid to save time, they drove to meet the ambulance, performing CPR en route. According to Collet, Ezekiel “was blue by the time we met up.”

Now on trial for Ezekiel’s death, the Stephans pleaded not guilty to the charge of failing to provide the necessities of life, maintaining they’d pursued a legitimate, alternative course of treatment. And for those immersed in the pseudoscientific realm of “alternative health care,” this, indeed, seems to be a perfectly reasonable defence. The same government that is now prosecuting the Stephans has also granted the College of Naturopathic Doctors of Alberta (CNDA) the power to self-govern their industry — in essence, the state is now prosecuting parents for pursuing cures from a modern-day snake-oil industry that it licenses and legitimizes.

When it granted the CNDA its powers back in 2012, Health Minister Fred Horne said that he and his fellow elected representatives “believe the practices that will be engaged in by (naturopathic) professionals are safe and effective and meet the highest possible standard.”

Dr. Allissa Gaul, founding president of the CNDA, boasted the decision meant that “Albertans can have confidence … they have a Naturopathic doctor who meets stringent competency and practice requirements.”

It’s worth noting Dr. Tannis, the Naturopath who prescribed Echinacea for a child suffering a life-threatening illness, graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in 2003 and is licensed in “good standing” in Alberta. (In court, she said she told the Stephans to take their child to an emergency room.)

The profound suffering and preventable death of Ezekiel has rightly provoked heated discussion about the validity of so-called alternative medicine, prompting finger-pointing toward all who enabled and abetted the long deterioration and ultimate death of a toddler whose ailment was both vaccine-preventable and entirely treatable.

One thing is clear: Ezekiel is a casualty of pseudoscience; his death facilitated by the allure of alternative medicine.

Naturopathy, for instance, is not a form of medicine, but a system of belief; its approach to treating illness reliant on the theory of vitalism. That is, disease is viewed as being caused by an imbalance of vital forces and, thus, the treatment rests in the restoration of those forces.

Despite its claims to ancient roots, naturopathy was invented by Benedict Lust, a German immigrant to the United States and self-proclaimed “doctor” who was ultimately convicted for practising medicine without a licence. To this day, many procedures on its standard list of practices and cures have not passed scientific muster.

Naturopathy relies on dubious diagnostics — hair analysis and IgG Food Intolerance screening, for instance — to identify non-existent deficiencies or fabricated ailments. The prescribed interventions, conveniently, are on hand and sold directly by practitioners.

Treatments range from the proven-ineffective and largely innocuous, such as Vitamin C infusions and herbal supplements, to the far more dangerous and potentially fatal ozone and chelation therapies.

Naturopathy preys on the critically and terminally ill by peddling false hope and sham treatments with exorbitant financial and emotional costs; it fuels scientific illiteracy by accommodating those who misunderstand or distrust legitimate medicine, prescribing futile detox and cleanse regimens.

Naturopaths endanger public health by agitating against vaccination, selling homeopathic nosodes, which, to be clear, are entirely inert.

As Timothy Caulfield, professor in the Faculty of Law and the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta wrote in 2013: “There is no evidence that homeopathy works, and given the absurd nature of the proposed mechanism of action, no scientifically plausible reason that it should work.” None.

Although homeopathy was not prescribed in Ezekiel’s case, it remains one of the central tenets of naturopathy. And when governments capitulate to the demands of a pseudoscientific lobby, as Alberta did in 2012, such nonsense is granted authority.

Though undoubtedly lucrative, embracing and incorporating magical thinking into the realm of evidence-based medicine is both ethically questionable and professionally irresponsible.

If naturopaths, homeopaths, osteopaths or any of the numerous “natural” or “holistic” practitioners want to be regarded as heath-care professionals and afforded the same respect, opportunities and privileges earned by those working in the evidence-based medical system, they must agree to be held to the same standards in terms of education, certification and efficacy of their prescribed treatment.

Until the alternative health industry is required to demonstrate the validity of its existence, the corpses that refute it will continue to mount. And all who overtly or indirectly enable the spread of pseudoscience share the blame for the casualties.




On April 2, the Lethbridge Herald published an incredibly irresponsible and non-factual response to my column written by Karen Selick, a woman who is involved with the alternative / naturopathic (and conspiracy-minded) industry, and who has received financial contributions from Naturopaths for her raw milk lobbying efforts. She has also appeared at numerous naturopathic/alt-med conferences and events.

She believes Monsanto (glyphosate, in particular) is the cause of autism, along with along with vaccines, of course. She is a strident anti-vaxxer and thinks there’s a global conspiracy (thanks Big Pharma!) to prevent people from accessing natural remedies for things like cancer. (see bottom FYI for more)

Below is a line-by-line correction of her op-ed, ironically titled Clearing up factual distortions

Everything bolded is mine


The National Post recently published an opinion piece that exemplifies how moral panics get started.

If by “moral panic” Selick means “necessary scrutiny of an industry which, at this moment, claims (among other things) that cancer has an “emotional cause” and is cured by proven-ineffective (and expensive) ‘alternative’ methods,” then OK.

Alheli Picazo’s March 24 article, entitled “Alberta Shares the Blame” (the online version was called “When naturopathy kills”), dealt with a criminal prosecution currently before a jury in Lethbridge. David and Collet Stephan have been charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life to their son Ezekiel, who died in 2012 of meningitis.

Correct. Also: I do not write the headlines.

So far, only the prosecution has called witnesses. The case stands adjourned until April 11, when the defence will begin. But Picazo has already rushed to judgment.
She calls Ezekiel’s death “preventable” and labels him a “casualty of pseudoscience.”

Yes. Ezekiel’s death was 100% preventable, and yes, as he did not receive the vaccination to prevent the form of meningitis he died from, nor did he receive legitimate medical care before it was too late to allow him to be treated for, and recover from, said meningitis  (due entirely to his parents’ extreme anti-vax stance and belief – and personal business – in “holistic” remedies) he was a casualty of pseudoscience. 

More on the Stephan family business HERE 

Very thorough (and unvarnished) reading on this from evidence-based medical perspectives HERE and HERE

HERE and HERE are just a pair of examples of the father’s anti-vax musings. HERE and HERE from the mother. 

HERE is the father on an anti-vax radio show pleading his case 

Here are the “facts” as Picazo placed them before readers:

“After weeks of trying ‘natural’ extracts and homemade remedies like smoothies cut with ginger root and horseradish to cure a suspected case of meningitis, 19-month-old Ezekiel Stephan’s tiny body had so deteriorated that he was too stiff to bend. Unable to sit in his car seat, Ezekiel’s parents, David and Collet, loaded a mattress into the back of their vehicle to take him to a health practitioner – not a doctor.”

Those parents must be monsters, right? Actually, no. What’s monstrous is the number of factual distortions that Picazo packed into a single paragraph, with not even an “alleged” kicking around to hint that there might be another side to the story.

Notice not a single “factual distortion” was directly pointed to… because there are none. These are knowable – and known – facts. That Selick has decided she doesn’t want to believe said facts doesn’t make them any less true or warrant the addition of “alleged.”

There is no ‘other side’ to a ‘story’ here. 

Ezekiel’s “suspected meningitis” did not go on for weeks. He had started exhibiting symptoms of a cold, or at worst croup, around Feb. 27, 2012. Over the next two weeks, his symptoms disappeared and returned twice, sometimes appearing like flu, but never including seizures or rash.

Actually, yes. The meningitis did go on for weeks. In February, when Ezekiel first started showing signs of illness, his parents thought it was a croup. And it was a steady deterioration from that point – from the bacterial meningitis – until his death. 

Further, “never including seizures or rash” is meaningless.

It was not until March 12 that a family friend – a nurse who coincidentally knew that there had been a recent case of meningitis in her hospital – mentioned the possibility of viral meningitis. But based on Ezekiel’s mostly asymptomatic condition that day, she said, he’d probably be turned away from a hospital emergency room.

No, that’s not what the nurse-friend said. She told the parents to take Ezekiel to see a doctor.

The parents chose not to, and in their re-telling of the story now, they’re claiming (and allowing others, like Selick, to claim) they’d have been turned away ‘because our socialist healthcare system does that.’

Those were not the nurse-friend’s words.

Picazo makes it sound as though Ezekiel was getting progressively stiffer over a period of weeks until he was loaded rigor-mortis-like into the car to visit a naturopath.

Yes, that’s because he was. Those are the facts, and entirely knowable based on the autopsy.  

Here is a thorough read of this from one who knows.

In fact, on the morning of March 13, he had been in his car seat, perfectly able to bend.

No, that’s not a fact. It’s a flat-out lie, actually. The parents’ own statements to RCMP (played in court) refute Selick’s assertion.

But he was cranky and uncomfortable, so rather than aggravate his distress, they removed him from the car seat and let him lie on his foam crib mattress on the back seat.

“Crib mattress”. That’s cute. No, it was not a crib in any way. It was just a mattress and the parents never attempted to present it as anything but.

When a crisis arose that evening – Ezekiel temporarily stopped breathing – his parents called 911 and set out for the hospital. Picazo says, “Only after their son stopped breathing did the Stephans think it wise to call 911.” But wait – 911 is for emergencies. People who call 911 because their kid has a cold can be fined up to $10,000 in Alberta for making a frivolous call.

Yes, 911 is for emergencies — as in a deathly-ill child. Can Selick point to any case where a person suspecting their child needed medical attention (even if it were a simple cold or flu) called 911 and was subsequently fined/charged?


The unfortunate truth that Picazo omits is that meningitis is an illness that can strike suddenly and kill within a day or two. Usually, the symptoms progress very quickly from bad to worse. Ezekiel’s waxing and waning cold symptoms are not typical, and might indeed have indicated nothing other than a cold at that time.

There was no omission. I have a word count to adhere to. I’d love to have gone into great detail about the illness itself.

Also: the “Ezekiel’s waxing and waning cold symptoms” line is, again, intentionally misleading. Ezekiel’s symptoms were not mere cold symptoms, and the extent to which they fluctuated is in doubt.

Again: Autopsies don’t lie. (See above hyperlinks to physician/surgeon SBM writers)

(More on the symptoms according to testimony) 

The Meningitis Research Foundation of Canada’s website contains dozens of stories of meningitis cases that killed or seriously disabled their victims within days. In numerous cases, doctors had examined the victims not long before and sent them home with diagnoses of cold, flu, food poisoning, ear infection, gastroenteritis, pneumonia, etc.

And here Selick reveals her true motivations. She is an activist against the Canadian medical system, and is a documented agitator against ‘socialized health care.’ She regularly pulls the “but doctors make mistakes too! Hospitals kill too!” line to distract from scrutiny of the alt-med industry — one to which she belongs and believes in religiously.

(The Stephans use the same tactic)

The only definitive way of diagnosing bacterial meningitis is a spinal tap in which fluid is drawn from the spinal cord and tested. This excruciatingly painful procedure exposes patients to additional risks. Doctors do not ordinarily inflict it upon patients who appear to have merely colds or flu.

Yes, a spinal tap is a necessary diagnostic procedure, because that’s how real medicine works. And no, it’s not “excruciatingly painful.” It’s uncomfortable yes (I’ve had a few) and gross to think about if you’ve never had one, but nothing more.

And again: Ezekiel was not simply ill with – or exhibiting mere signs of – cold or flu. Further, that fear of a spinal tap was one reason the parents avoided the hospital.

So far at the trial, none of the prosecution’s doctors has claimed that they could have definitively diagnosed meningitis from the symptoms Ezekiel exhibited at the time. None has claimed that Ezekiel could definitely have been saved, even if he had received aggressive treatment.

Not true at all. They could not speak definitively on a child they had not seen, but it was testified and is knowable what the outcome would have been for a child in the exact same circumstance as Ezekiel if properly treated.

Picazo says the Alberta government shares the blame for Ezekiel’s death because it licences naturopathy.

However, she fails to mention that the ambulance that met the Stephans on their drive to hospital had been stripped of some equipment by that same Alberta government approximately a year before. Consequently, it had no air mask small enough to treat Ezekiel en route to hospital. He spent eight and a half minutes in the ambulance without air. A later CT scan showed brain injury consistent with lack of oxygen.

No, actually. That’s another lie from Selick. The CT confirmed that lack of oxygen was NOT to blame.

A week after Ezekiel’s death, infant air masks re-appeared in ambulances. I can’t help wondering whether the Alberta government is prosecuting these parents to divert attention from its own possible liability.

Gee, that sounds familiar.. 

Quite familiar, in fact. 

Karen Selick is a lawyer and writer based in rural eastern Ontario. During her cold symptoms last week, she did not suspect meningitis and did not rush to the hospital demanding a spinal tap.

Another attempt to confuse cold/flu symptoms with advanced bacterial meningitis.

Also, even if Selick had meningitis and rushed to hospital demanding a spinal tap, only a doctor can decide whether one is warranted. And only a doctor can order one.

Nice narrative, though.


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Ugh Canadian health care, amirite?! 

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HERE she is pushing the Shona Holmes lie. And HERE are the facts.)

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( Facts on glyphosate HERE, HERE and HERE )

FTR: This is something the Stephans believe as well. Here’s the mother:

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(Links to THIS )

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(Links to THIS

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(Links to THIS

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I’ll leave it for you to judge the merits of Selick’s piece, and the wisdom of the Lethbridge Herald in running it.



On April 14, the Lethbridge Herald ran my response.

The op-ed in its entirety can be found below:

On April 2, the Lethbridge Herald published an incredibly irresponsible and inaccurate op-ed by Karen Selick, a woman who’d taken issue with a column I wrote for the National Post centred around the death of Ezekiel Stephan — a preventable tragedy for which his
parents are currently on trial.

Selick accused me of “factual distortions,” yet failed to specify a single one. Why? Because there were no inaccuracies to identify. All the information in my column was accurate — and verifiably so — unlike the numerous false claims Selick resorted to in the effort to rebut my piece.

For instance, Selick wrote that the nurse-friend who paid the Stephans a visit had counselled against taking Ezekiel to hospital because “he’d probably be turned away from a hospital emergency room.” This is a fabrication by Selick. In fact, the nurse-friend suggested the child might have meningitis and specifically instructed the
parents: “I think you should take him to a doctor.”

Selick also asserted “on the morning of March 13, (Ezekiel) had been in his car seat, perfectly able to bend.” This, too, is not true. According to the parents’ own statements to RCMP — which were played in court — Ezekiel’s body was so stiff from illness that he could not sit in his car seat, which is why he was placed on a mattress (and not a specially-made “crib mattress” as Selick portrayed it as — just a small mattress) in the back of the family vehicle.

Selick then parrots a narrative directly from the father’s own PR offensive — taken either from a conspiracy-laden radio interview or one of many social media updates — alleging that Alberta Health Services was to blame for failing to revive Ezekiel once they were
finally, albeit it far too late, called upon.

“The ambulance that met the Stephans … had been stripped of some equipment by that same Alberta government,” Selick wrote. “Consequently, it had no air mask small enough to treat Ezekiel en route to hospital. He spent eight and a half minutes in the ambulance
without air. A later CT scan showed brain injury consistent with lack of oxygen.”

While it’s true the ambulance lacked a properly-fitting mask for Ezekiel, Selick’s claim of brain-death from lack of oxygen is yet another falsehood. What the CT scan confirmed was that lack of oxygen was not to blame for the child’s death. As medical examiner Dr. Bamidele Adeagbo testified, Ezekiel was brain dead when EMS met up with Stephans. Adeagbo explained what differentiates a brain deprived of oxygen from one suffering meningitis, and concluded there were no signs Ezekiel’s brain died from lack of oxygen.
Ezekiel, he confirmed, was dead before EMS intervened.

Why did Selick feel the need to respond to something I wrote in a publication other than the National Post, the paper which ran my column? I would hope it’s because, like any responsible news outlet, Selick’s submission would be seen as questionable due to the misrepresentations of the case and additional inaccuracies to the ones detailed above.

Readers should also know that Selick is an adherent to, and an affiliate of, the alternative/natural health industry and has appeared at numerous naturopathic/alt-med conferences and events. She is a long-time agitator against the Canadian health-care system, and played a prominent role in pushing the Shona Holmes story and scaring Americans into believing health-care reform was not in their best interest.

Selick seems to believe there’s a government conspiracy to keep treatments and cures from the public so that the pharmaceutical industry can profit off disease, and she is a full-fledged anti-vaxxer who believes vaccines cause autism.

Selick is free to believe what she wishes, of course. But her disregard for evidence, dismissal of science, and embrace of pseudoscience isn’t merely another point of view for a newspaper to print. Nor was her op-ed, as she argued, “another side to the story”
to be presented. Selick’s misrepresentation of the case was a dangerous effort to grant legitimacy to a modern-day snake-oil industry — one in which she has a personal stake.

As I argued in my initial column, people who view the world as Selick does, when reading such nonsense as Selick wrote, are led to believe that there is an alternative to evidence-based medicine.

This, in turn, leads to naturalistic fanatics feeling confident in their deeply-held beliefs that some mythical ‘alternative’ exists to necessary medical intervention should they, or their children, come down with a serious illness — the consequence of which is on display
in a certain Lethbridge courtroom.

More facts about this case and further information on Selick’s connections to the Stephan family and her role in their co-ordinated misinformation campaign can be found  HERE. 

As Some Fight To “Take Alberta Back,” Others Work To Move It Forward

In 1954, when the U.S. Senate voted to censure Wisconsin Republican Joseph R. McCarthy, a man whose motivations were deemed “evil and unmatched in malice,” it closed the book on a particularly shameful chapter of American politics; One marked by relentless character assassinations, vicious demagoguery, and incessant partisan witch hunts.

The extent to which the careers of good, decent people were destroyed, their lives irrevocably  damaged through tactics now synonymous with the disgraced Senator, was due in part to “the unwillingness of moderates to take a stand.”

As Haynes Johnson, author of The Age of Anxiety: McCarthyism to Terrorism further explains: “This was the key to McCarthy’s continued power – not the ranting of demagogues, but the fear and irresolution of honourable men.”

The election, and re-election, of President Barack Obama gave rise to a New McCarthyism with fringe allegations of the President as illegitimate, as foreign born and beholden to the enemy, whose administration teems with radical Islamists. Meanwhile, mainstream Republicans question Obama’s love for America, the authenticity of his religious beliefs, and to whom he pledges allegiance.

Throughout Obama’s first term, Republicans pandered to the fringe by refusing to denounce even the most outlandish assertions, and when pressed to state firmly, for the record, where they stood on a given conspiracy, GOP lawmakers offered purposefully open to interpretation, coded responses.

Rather than satisfying the fringe, however, this strategy empowered it, resulting in a party so divorced from reality, so beholden to toxic partisans, they began to devour their own.

The political atmosphere in America is now so poisoned, so ideologically tainted, that even where Obama adopts a Republican idea, support is withdrawn due to GOP lawmakers’ fear of punishment from voters, or worse, of excoriation by Conservative media.

There’s a familiar strategy unfolding in Alberta where, following the NDP’s unprecedented rise to power under Premier Rachel Notley, the conservative fringe, unsatisfied by a ‘mainstreaming’ of the Wildrose under Brian Jean, have taken it upon themselves to “expose” the Notley government, one they’ve deemed illegitimate and unworthy of a mandate. They question the motives of those brought in to serve, cry of foreign infiltration with an intent to bring Alberta down; They warn of Communist allegiance within the NDP caucus and question the depth of the Premier’s affection for Alberta.

These partisans march in lockstep to the tune of their McCarthy-esque Pied Piper, a master of manipulation living “in exile” in Toronto. A political pariah who recently toured the province just long enough to play his dog-whistle flute, to summon his loyalists to a trio of carefully-crafted performances, enlisting them to his fledgling Minute movement.

Though there initially seemed no direct political involvement, the the final days of Alberta’s shortened spring legislative session saw the Wildrose enrol in the coalition of the aggrieved.

It’s not so much a “New McCarthyism” as it is a third-rate McCarthyism, one which warns of “extremists” and “radicals” appointed to government with the explicit intent to “destroy (Alberta) and remake it in their own image, to satisfy long time feuds they’ve had with our province and our ideology.”

Where NDP lawmakers are accused of being loyal to OPEC, on the dole of Qatar, of hating Alberta’s “ethical” oil.

Where the oil industry, those praising Notley on her willingness to collaborate on royalty reviews and policy changes, who’ve acknowledged climate change as fact and an issue on which they’re prepared to lead, are alleged to have done so under duress, too “terrified to speak the truth … they got a gun to their head” unable to fight back, either out of fear of the tyrannical Notley regime or “full blown Stockholm Syndrome.”

Notley’s mandate to govern was achieved through a partisan plurality. According to Abacus data, “the NDP victory was not built on deep divisions across the province. Instead, a fairly broad consensus developed.”

While it’s true voters indicated voting as a “change from something rather than a change to something” it’s disingenuous to claim Albertans in no way voted for policies on which the NDP ran. A pre-budget survey commissioned by then-premier Jim Prentice found more than two-thirds of Albertans supported raising revenue through corporate tax hikes, while over half supported moving from the flat-tax to a graduated income tax.

One can argue the wisdom of such policies and debate their merits, but to claim Notley is somehow imposing her will on unsuspecting Albertans is absurd.

Notley has been tasked with navigating the province through years of turbulent waters, and time will reveal just how skilled a sailor she proves to be. That she’s turned to some of the brightest minds to help guide her decisions indicates a willingness to craft evidence-based policies rather than justify decisions based on policy-based evidence.* Albertans lulled into a sense of comfort by the previous Tory dynasty, who now find themselves governed by “the devil they don’t” know, are understandably discomforted by the pace, and simple prospect, of change.

If the centre-right hopes to again form government in the near-future, they must dedicate every effort over the next four years toward building a strong, principled opposition — a clear alternative to what Notley has offered. So far the Wildrose has shown itself to be entirely capable of becoming that credible alternative, and they’ve done so by – until recent days – refusing to indulge the disgruntled, rabidly-partisan fringe. Should the Wildrose fully relent, again dumb themselves down and pander to extremes when the Legislature returns in the fall, they’ll lay the foundation for the formation of a new political dynasty in Alberta.

The Wildrose can allow themselves to be forever relegated to opposition, playing to those who demand they “take Alberta back”, or they can work with the government in their current capacity, hold Notley to account on issues that matter, and help ensure Alberta keeps moving forward.

*One notable exception 


The following is the full transcript from Ezra’s Edmonton town hall. There are a few transcription errors (NEB = NEP, for instance) but nothing you can’t recognize/correct. I’ve not touched anything.

Do take the time to read through, as there are a number of gems. But I didn’t want to highlight or bold anything, lest Ezra claim I altered the text.

Thanks again to the little bird who sent this my way.

0:00:00 Ezra Levant: To see a full house. Thank you very much for coming.


0:00:11 EL: I’d like to start with a big thank you to our team of volunteers who were staffing the front door and helping as ushers, and security, and so thank you very much. Put your hands together.


[background conversation]

0:00:28 EL: We’re Alberta, so we’re gonna start our meeting by singing “O Canada.” Please rise and join us really quickly. If you wanna stand up…


0:02:52 EL: About something. This is an article from the CBC a few years back. The headline is, “Greenpeace hopes the demonstrator who crashed premier’s dinner works for NDP.” And I’ll just read, it’s a little bit hard to see, and the colour is a little wonky, but it says, “The NDP MLA for Edmonton Strathcona, Rachel Notley, is refusing to say how she will deal with the staff member who disrupted a fundraising dinner held by Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach last Thursday night. Denise Ogonoski was one of two Greenpeace protesters who snuck into Edmonton Shaw Conference Centre,” etcetera. So I tell you this to let you know that we have received warnings that up to five NDP or Greenpeace activists, and there’s really no difference between the two, are planning to interrupt this evening with sort of a disruption, panty-raid-stunt like they do.


0:03:47 EL: And I say this because we had someone yesterday in Calgary who attempted to come in, and we had a very calm and very professional security take care of it, and we have security today. If it happens, stay cool and stay calm, and just know that it is a sign that what we are talking about here is something they don’t want us to talk about. If it happens. It happened in Calgary, but it was handled well. And I show you this to let you know that it happened from the office of Rachel Notley [0:04:25] ____. This is a tactic of the NDP. And I’ve never heard it the other way around, I’ve never heard of conservatives storming an NDP event and putting up taxpayers freedom posters…


0:04:38 EL: And if either side doesn’t riot, maybe we should have a tax freedom day gimmick. That’s just not our style. So I’m not here to alarm you, I’m just saying if it happens, let’s be the grown-ups, and it’ll redound to their discredit, if it does. So that’s a gentle warning. Well, one other event we had, it was probably just a month or so ago, and how to interpret it, I think is very important. It’s not just something for punishment, it’s important to understand what happened on May 5th because a lot of people wanna read things into it for their own purposes. A lot of people want to say Alberta today is not the Alberta of the past. Alberta has de-Alberta-fied itself. It no longer believes in freedom, in entrepreneurship, and industry, and prosperity.

0:05:24 EL: The old Alberta that the rest of the country loved to hate, even as they took transfer payments, the rest of the country would love to think that Alberta has swallowed itself whole; would love to think that the election, which was not just a rejection of a 43-year-old party, tired, corrupt, and out of touch, but was a rejection of every Alberta value along with it. And so my very first slide I wanna show you is a poll taken by Abacus Data, of 1000 residents in the five days after the election. This is a verbatim quote, from the poll, “Overwhelmingly, those surveys say the result was more about a desire for change… ” 93% said that. “Rather than a preference for the NDP,” 7%. NDP voters were as likely as everyone else to say it was more about change. This is important to keep in mind because there are many people who would say this is a mandate to attack oil and gas, this is a mandate to raise taxes, this is a mandate to do all the NDP pet projects that were rejected year after year, decade after decade. Proof that Albertans want an NDP government. Well, actually, no and most NDP voters themselves didn’t vote for that reason.

0:06:38 EL: Let me tell you what I’m not going to do today. I am not gonna focus on petty shenanigans of the NDP. You know what I’m talking about, like Deborah Drever. She’s the NDP MLA from Calgary-Bow who was suspended from the NDP, she’ll be back there in a few weeks, for shenanigans, like this Facebook post. Let me say something in defense of Deborah Drever, and I know you may be surprised to hear me say that, but here’s my point: Calgary-Bow, the NDP got 4% there last time, 4%. You run the Bloc Québécois, [laughter] you’re gonna get 4%.


0:07:20 EL: They couldn’t find an NDP candidate. Literally a week into the campaign they didn’t have a candidate. They wanted to put someone there. So this girl, “Yeah, yeah put me down. Whatever.” So she likes pop, she likes bad music, she likes cussing, she’s a failure to launch 20-something, get in line. She did not [0:07:43] ____ that she was gonna be… The party didn’t vet her, the media didn’t vet her, the voters didn’t vet her. She woke up one day and MLA was “This like your job.” And so her real life became of interest to the world and, yeah, she’s exactly who she was. And, should we be mad at her or should we be mad at the party for not vetting her, the media for not vetting her, the voters for not vetting her? How can you be mad at her for being her? She never pretended she was anything else other than a long shot. And don’t feel too sad for her, though, either. It’s the best day of her life, she won the lottery.


0:08:20 EL: But I’m not here to talk about Deborah Drever, because really, whether or not someone is mature or not, experienced or not, that is an issue that you will always have in every party. Especially when a new crop of MLAs comes in en masse. I am not so worried about childishness. What I am more worried about is dangerous ideas that are thoughtfully held, not thoughtless ideas. Now, there are some MLAs who are a bit of both. Both childish and dangerous and silly and into bad music, and I think you probably know who I’m thinking about. This superhero MLA from [0:09:02] ____ said.

0:09:09 EL: He calls himself the “people’s poet”.


0:09:48 EL: Don’t we all know what that’s like?


0:09:52 EL: Despite… You know what? If I had more time I would research that poem and I will bet you a dollar he borrowed that.


0:10:00 EL: I’m also not much into private property. That’s Rod Loyola, he calls himself the “people’s poet”. I like his lack of self-consciousness. That guy, I tell you, he is a total commie. Here is his Facebook page praising the commander in chief forever so this is… To me he is a communist. Rod Loyola is as old as me, he’s in his 40s. Well, you know this, right?

0:10:47 EL: Long live Hugo Chavez. Hugo Chavez, of course, was the great nationalizer of private property. They nationalized the oil before Chavez came along. Rod Loyola sponsored an event with the Cuban consulate; he’s a communist. I’m actually not gonna talk more about the goofy… He gets into a lot of goofy stuff, Rod Loyola. I’m having a little bit of fun with him. But he actually… I’m gonna put aside most things today ’cause there are a hundred of them. I got a video of one MLA with a sledge hammer smashing stereo equipment. It’s just hilarious to look at. But I’m not gonna show it to you today… Because we actually have some serious business to talk about. What will these people do to our chief industry oil and gas? What will these people do to our jobs? What will these people do to our taxes? What will these people do to our culture of entrepreneurship and private property and go out and pull yourself up from your bootstraps and everyone can come here and make it a meritocracy? Don’t you think that’s more important than laughing at the people’s poet? I do.

0:12:02 EL: And so I will only have one more video of Rod Loyola.


0:12:07 EL: But it’s actually him… The only one I could find of him talking about… Oh, he talks about Hamas terrorist. If there’s any kookie idea, he’s for it. But, he’s not in the federal government, he has no hand in foreign affairs, but listen to him talk about how he wants to tax the industries that gives the lifeblood to all of northern Alberta and to Edmonton, the gateway to the north… They’re all attached. Listen to him talk about his plans for oil and gas.

0:12:50 EL: So triple. Now Rod Loyola is too extreme to be in cabinet; even Rachel Notley knows that. But Rod Loyola ran for the leader… Leadership against Notley. He is an organizer in his blood, he’s a talker, as you can see, a singer, he’s an organizer, he’s the union leader in his own right. He is a source of power, whether or not you like it. Now he was a fringe freakish source of power, but now he is in the bosom of the government. He will not be at the cabinet table, but he will be in caucus. Do you doubt that he will speak up in caucus? I wouldn’t be surprised if he comes up with a new rap every week.

0:13:35 EL: Do you doubt that he will push, push, push, within caucus for the cabinet to go further? Do you doubt it? He’s in there. He doesn’t have outlets now, he will be effector from within. I have spent the last month studying, I have not gone through every single MLA, some of them are so low-key they have not left a big trail, but I have watched probably 100 speeches and I tell you I have not found a single MLA who will be a mitigating factor on this government’s extremism.

0:14:11 EL: Every time I find a new staffer or a new MLA opining on the subjects I care about, they are actually further down the line than Notley and the cabinet. There is no restraining force, there is no government, there is no break, it’s all for her to go faster. That’s why I show you Rod Loyola, it is a caucus full of Rod Loyolas.

0:14:35 EL: Okay, let me give you an example of this, Lori Sigurdson, a very reasonable, sounding and feeling woman, not a crazy Rod Loyola. But look at what she makes seem normal by her tone of voice. Here’s a small excerpt from a speech she gave at Occupy Edmonton. Do you know what occupy is? Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Toronto, Occupy Edmonton. That is a Marxist attack on capitalism itself. The 99% versus the 1%. By the way, anyone in Canada is a one percenter in the world, in case you didn’t know. And anyone who works in the oil patch, if you’re making six figures you’re pretty close to a one percenter right now.

0:15:27 EL: So to side with the actual Occupy rally; the smash capitalism, smash the state, smash corporations, is a level of extremism that is just as far out there as Rod Loyola. I’m not… This was a long speech and I endured it for you. The things I do. [laughter] But I wanna show you just how she says “I’m so at home here this is my kind of place.” And then I just have a very short segment, she’s a bit of a rambler, talking about “There’s so much more room to tax, I mean if we taxed as much as Ontario did, we could grab just billions there.” There is not a single entrepreneur or businessperson in the cabinet not one, not one. Take a look.

[background conversation]


0:16:41 EL: Why not? If the money’s there you can just take it, right? The goose has been laying golden eggs; it must be full of gold. I show you this to tell you that this is the center of gravity in the party. This is the normal. It’s not a group of… It’s not a widely diverse group. There’s no one I have found, and if you know of someone that can correct me, please let me know. I have not found a single person in the caucus who has ever worked in the energy industry. I think the closest they’ve ever come is using a self-service gas station. And that was [0:17:15] ____.


0:17:18 EL: I wanna show you one more backbencher, one of two businesspeople in the entire caucus. I say again there are no businesspeople in cabinet, but I have found two in all of the caucus. And one of them is named Colin Piquette whose dad, Leo Piquette, was an NDP MLA before him so being a socialist is in the family, but I give him credit for being a socialist businessman. He is one of only two MLAs who has had to meet a payroll, who has actually paid taxes, not taken taxes, so I have some respect for the way Colin Piquette lives his life in real life. But even a guy who’s a businessperson and wears a suit, when it comes to our key industry, oil and gas, he is so extreme that he will speak at a rally on the steps of the legislature with this sign behind him. Can you read it? “Amnesty and the UN condemn Canada,” he is part of a group called “Friends of the Lubicon”. He doesn’t… He’s not Aboriginal himself. He doesn’t represent the Lubicon. The Lubicon have their own band election. Colin can’t vote, he’s not Indian, but he uses their Indian-ness as a weapon against the oil sands. By the way, as everyone in northern Alberta knows, the oil sands is the number one employer of Aboriginal people in Canada. The Fort McKay Aboriginal men, 0% unemployment. Even in Fort Chip where they make a big fuss about the oil sands, the Fort Chip band, which is less than 200 people living on the reserve, makes a quarter of a billion dollars a year off the oil sands.

0:18:58 EL: If you know the oil sands, you know that it is the number one employer of Aboriginal people. And what you have here is a leftist, white guy who is dressing himself up as if he is Aboriginal, using that ethnicity as a club to bash oil and gas, and I want you to hear how he disparages our problems to the world. It’s not enough for him to fight to convince fellow Albertans. He wants to disparage us as racists to the world. Think about that and watch this.

0:20:18 EL: I’m sorry that was hard to hear. For my next [0:20:22] ____ I’m gonna caption that. Let me tell you what he said. He says we are destroying Aboriginal people. I don’t know if you heard him use the word “destroy.” He said he wishes he could be proud of his province, but he is not. And he says he has teamed up with other non-Aboriginal people in Europe and the United States to bring pressure on Alberta. Now, if he truly believes that Aboriginal people are ill-served by the oil sands, and that is a legitimate point of view to hold, then work with your fellow Albertans [0:20:53] ____ the rules to fix the problem. He didn’t do that. He’s… As you can see by this very rally is about shaming and defaming our province and our industry to the world. To Europe, to the United States, the United Nations. Is there another country in the world that is attempting as the [0:21:14] ____ have choose to reach out to Aboriginal people in the way we are? No. But that is a political weapon he uses.

0:21:21 EL: This is the most conservative man in the entire caucus. Here’s a picture of him dressed up. They did a stunt on the steps of the legislature. You can see the little oil derrick there. You can see the upside down flag, a sign of distress. “No justice on stolen land.” So, he is saying that the oil patch has stolen the land is injust, and is in distress, and he’s wearing a goofy hat ’cause he had just done some… You can see the guy with the hard hat. They did some fake play called the “Republic of Greendolia”. It wasn’t very funny, but this is what he did to the delight of foreign cameras. I ask you how many Aboriginal people… You’re all white here, by the way. [0:22:05] ____ white people. I’m sort of drawn this hue myself. I’m just saying…


0:22:11 EL: This was not done to employ Aboriginal people, or to fix actual problems. If it was, I would have sympathy even if I thought it was a misguided. This was a politician self-promoting, playing a race card that he doesn’t even have himself. This is the most conservative man in the NDP. You’ve got Occupy Wall Street. You’ve got a communist beat poet. You’ve got… I took it out ’cause I had too many clips. You got a guy… I put it back in, [0:22:37] ____… You got a guy, who on his honeymoon decided to go to Nicaragua under the Sandinista. That would be like going on a honeymoon today to North Korea, “Hey, let’s go.”


0:22:51 EL: That sounds like a delight, but we better pack lunch.


0:22:56 EL: There’s a chief of staff for a minister, who went to Nicaragua for his… Under the Sandinista [0:22:59] ____. That is… This is the most normal guy. This guy in the funny hat? Most normal guy.


0:23:09 EL: Alright. Now, I told you about backbenchers. The reason I did so is because that is the water pressing up against the dam. The crazy water against the slightly less crazy dam. So, let’s look at the dam itself. Now, you will know these characters better than me because they are from Edmonton. Let me tell you about the new minister of municipal affairs and Service Alberta, a man in charge of buildings, what he thinks about the industry that pays for all his stuff, that pays for the money he now gets to spend. If you go to any cultural event in Alberta, any museum, any theatre, any festival, who sponsors it? Every oil company. Every engineering company based on oil. You go to… Is there anything other than oil that sponsors it? And if it’s an engineering company or a construction company, that’s oil. I have yet to see an event sponsored by Greenpeace.


0:24:13 EL: Greenpeace isn’t about putting money into a community. Greenpeace is about taking money out of a community. I’ve been to science centers, where the science of geology and mining and oil and gas is sponsored by an oil company. Who would know better? In Toronto, where I’m in exile these days, there are great mining museums sponsored by mining companies, teach kids about wrong. In Alberta, who better to teach about oil and gas in the industry than the industry? Well, listen to what Deron Bilous says about the industry daring to want to teach about geology. Listen to the words he uses. This man is in Cabinet.

0:25:26 EL: Offensive. This effort is offensive. This industry is propaganda. And by the way, dating students teacher [0:25:35] ____ throughout schools in Alberta, that is not offensive. But an oil company wanting to teach about physics is offensive. Offensive. Propaganda. Here is David Eggen. You know him better than I do. He’s the minister of culture and education, trying to shake [0:25:52] ____ he’s the guy in the blue windbreaker there. I said that there are childish kids and the youngest is a 20-year… Actually that 20-year-old MLA seems rather sober-minded compared to the rest of them.

0:26:07 S?: Yeah.

0:26:08 EL: Here’s a grown man acting like a child. Take a listen.


0:26:42 EL: No new approvals. He’s leading a chant. “No new approvals!” No new approvals of what? No new approvals of oil. No new approvals. Now, as of two months ago, the predicted capital investment into Alberta for 2015 is $49 billion, 50 billion. So, $50 billion will come to Alberta if things are as they were a month ago to build things, to construct things, to drill things, to equip things, and that will lead to jobs and that will lead to tax revenue and that will lead to our standard of living. But he said in advance without seeing any proposal, without seeing any application, without knowing anything in advance, he has pre-judged every and any oil sands project in advance and said, “No! No new approvals. None. Zero. I don’t care what it is.” They’re shouting it. And in case you thought that was too nuanced, he chanted it like a child.

0:27:44 EL: Now this… All of these videos I show you today, these were not taken by a hidden camera. These were not taken by my cameras at all. This is in the public domain. These are all… You can see in the top right corner of each video where I got it from on YouTube. This is all out there, and in no case was a politician caught off guard where they’re making a gaffe. This was… He knew the cameras were there. This was his best foot forward. This is what he wanted you to say. This is what he had been thinking thoughtfully about all day. “What am I gonna do? I know what I’m gonna do.”

0:28:18 EL: For years, in some cases for decades, this is the true part of these men and women. Do you think it’s changed in the last 30 days? Do you think someone who had so forcefully and bluntly and categorically said no new approvals suddenly supports approvals? Do you think he does? Here’s Brian Mason.

0:29:12 EL: “Biggest environmental embarrassment.” Biggest embarrassment, catastrophe. Now it is true that 1600 ducks did sit down in a tailings pond when the electric scarecrows were not working. That is true. And you can call that an industrial accident. It’s true. You could say it’s the toll of a wind turbine for a few weeks. You can say that on any given day birds fly into skyscrapers in Edmonton with the lights up on at night or even into your own window where the birds killed by house cats every year is the same number. Of course the metric I would go for is how many wings can I eat at one sitting in a bar…


0:29:51 EL: On wings night. I could polish off 50 if they’re the little ones.


0:30:00 EL: I’m sort of joking, but I’m also sort of not. Those were ducks. Those were ducks and geese. These were not the falcons or the great raptors killed by wind turbines. This was an industrial accident, for which they paid a $3 million fine. That’s $2,000 a duck. But, to Brian Mason, it was an opportunity, again, this is too many [0:30:22] ____ misdoing. He was playing to the foreign cameras. He was playing to the international press. The foreign press, embarrassment to the world. He’s more concerned about that than he is about any real problems. Yet actually there’s not any solution. There is no solution. Birds die sometimes. There are billions of them so, we try and mitigate it, but to him it is something to attack the industry. I have to tell you right now, more birds will die. Just like in any industrial installation. When you build your house, a bird will die. There is nothing people can do on this land that does not have some impact. I suppose the only thing that would not have impact is if we die.

0:31:35 EL: Alright, well The Northern Gateway Pipeline is a $7 billion construction project. $7 billion. It is the largest infrastructure project in Canada, second only to the Energy East Pipeline which hasn’t been approved yet, but if it is will be a $10 or $11 or $12 billion construction project. It is simply not true that the Northern Gateway will only have 200 jobs. It will have thousands of jobs. Many of them Aboriginal, by the way, if the NDP cared about that. It will be bigger than any sports arena, any airport, any bridge. But more importantly, it will allow the tens of thousands of Albertans working upstream, mining, [0:32:22] ____, processing to sell. If you cut off the pipelines, the environment extremists have a phrase for that, they call it de-marketing. They can say, “Well you can take it out the ground but if you can’t get it to market, it’s a stranded asset,” that’s a phrase they use.

0:32:37 EL: Brian Mason is arguing against Alberta jobs when he claims he’s against the BC Pipeline. Because if you cut off all the pipelines to find a different excuse for each one, then you can’t produce. There’s one more thing, I have never heard of another industry, another raw commodities industry in Canada that has this rule that the NDP has invented, that you cannot export it unless it’s refined. Do we tell farmers in Saskatchewan, “You cannot export wheat? It’s gotta be bread or cookies!”?


0:33:14 EL: Do we tell coal miners, “No no no, you can’t sell coal to China, you’ve gotta make this steel here in Alberta before we sent it out.”? Do we tell foresters, “No, you can’t sell logs, you’ve gotta make the furniture, and sell it”? Is there any other industry that suddenly there’s a rule you cannot send an unrefined product out? If it made market sense to build a refinery, let that happen. But even if we ignored all of these questions, for Brian Mason to say, “Hey everybody, let’s wait five years for a refinery to be built, as if they would build a refinery with its carbon footprint. As if they would. It’s always this excuse or that excuse. Oh, you have a rebuttal.

0:34:02 EL: It’s like a watermelon seed. I’ll squeeze it from this side, it squirts that way, I’ll squeeze it… “No, it’s not that I’m against oil, it’s I’m against pipelines. Oh, it’s not I’m against pipelines, I’m against tankers. I’m not against tankers, I’m against carbon dioxide.” Really? Really? It’s always something isn’t it? Brian Mason told Calgary Herald that he likes to say tar sand instead of oil sand, and let me quote from the Herald story. “There’s a bit of a propaganda war going on amidst NDP leader Brian Mason. Mason uses tar sands exclusively. He and most environmentalists believe it more accurately describes what comes out of the ground.” Of course there is no tar in tar sands.” I understand that historically that term has sometimes been used, but you can see right here that is not why Brian Mason says tar sands. He gives it away. He gives the game away. He says he uses tar sands on purpose as a propaganda war. He says it. See that’s not how you be a trickster, you be a trickster by not telling the trick.

0:35:07 EL: You don’t explain that the rabbit was in the hat to begin with. When you are being a propagandist, you don’t say it, because you don’t want people to know you’re a propagandist. You wanna say, “No, no, no it really is tar sand.” He gave it away. He hates the tar sand. He said it. He’s trying to demonize it and de-normalize it. Do you think he’s suddenly changed? Do you think he has? By the way, who’s his new chief of staff? I’ll tell you. His chief of staff is named Robin Steudel. Let me make sure I’m pronouncing that right. I just learned this literally today. Robin Steudel. That’s right. Who’s she? There’s 12 cabinet ministers including the premier, 10 out of 12 are not from Alberta.

0:36:01 EL: Stop and think about that for a second. Do you know what a chief of staff is? It’s the unelected office of a department. So Rachel Notley is the premier, she’s the boss of the government, and she makes the political decisions, she has the democratic legitimacy. When she makes a decision, she then says to her right hand man, Brian Topp is his name, “Get this done, get this done in the government. Draft the law, draft the policies, make it happen, get the machinery of state working.” And each cabinet minister has the same thing. The chief of staff reports to the minister, but the chief of staff also reports to the premier’s chief of staff. These are the top 12 people who run the government, 10 out of 12 are not Albertan. Why, why, why? There’s more than four million Albertans, was there not anyone? Okay, I understand that there’s slim pickings in the caucus, we’ve laughed about that before, but that’s the difference between hired staff and elected officials. It’s sort of like the difference between your family and your friends. You can’t choose your family, you’re sort of stuck with the ones you got, but you can pick your friends. You can’t choose your elected officials, you’re stuck with those ones, but you can hire anyone out of four million people in this province to be your chief of staff.

0:37:09 EL: Are you saying that there is not one person in the entire province of four million who could be a chief of staff for Brian Mason or chief of staff of the finance ministry? They brought… You know who they brought in? They brought in Nathan Rotman to be the chief of staff for the finance ministry. Who’s he? He was a failed NDP activist that worked on Olivia Chow’s mayoral campaign. Who is Robin Steudel, the new chief of staff for Brian Mason? She’s a failed political activist from British Columbia. She was the deputy communications director for Adrian Dix, the NDP leader of BC. Now let me tell you why that’s important. Because what was the central campaign theme for Adrian Dix’s campaign in 2013?

0:37:50 EL: No oil sands, no pipelines, no fracking, no Kinder Morgan, no Northern Gateway, no tankers. The central campaign platform of Adrian Dix in 2013 was anti-Alberta. Anti-oil, anti-gas, anti-pipeline. And that was Robin Steudel’s job is to be the deputy communications director. Now they failed. It was so extreme environmentally conscious, BC said there’s too much wrong. And so she’s slumming it here? I don’t know… Did [0:38:20] ____ move here? Think she’s gonna sell her place in Vancouver to buy a home in Edmonton? Brian Topp, the chief of staff for the premier himself ran that campaign for Adrian Dix. Brian Topp lives in Toronto, he didn’t sell his home in Toronto, moving his family to Edmonton finding a school, sending his kids to school, buying a home here? Of course not. You think these 10 out-of-province chiefs are anything but visiting?

0:38:44 EL: See, many of them don’t have any connections to Alberta, but most of them have strong opinions about Alberta. It sells in Toronto when you’re working for Olivia Chow [0:38:55] ____ it is, it sells to bash, big fat Alberta. It sells… Or actually it didn’t quite did in BC to bash Alberta. It sells everywhere to bash Alberta. They all have myths, self-serving myths, Alberta, but they will not be disabused of those myths because they’ll fly in on Monday morning, stay in an apartment, circulate only with other political professionals, and get out on Friday. They will not meet parents at school, they will not meet other moms and dads at soccer, they will not go to community picnics. They will not meet real Albertans. They will not know us and understand us. They are like colonial administrators coming out to the far-flung province to do a tour of duty until they can get back to BC to take another crack at Christy Clark. Until they can get back to Toronto to take another crack at the mayor’s job. They truly are just visiting, and the problem is they hate Alberta. I do not say that as an insult to them, I say that as an observation to the campaigns they all run when they were in other places.

0:39:57 EL: Could you not find someone in Alberta, with all our banks and dealers and wheelers? Could you not find even an environmentally socially conscious business-person who say “I will serve as a chief of staff as my love for Alberta, these NDP-ers need some help. I think they’re maybe a little left-wing for me, but I will come and give them my expertise.” Could you not find even a left-wing professor? God knows there’s enough of them at the U of A.


0:40:22 EL: Could you not find someone [0:40:23] ____…


0:40:25 EL: I have been trying for the left-wing think tanks in this province, but at least the people they hire are Albertans who, in their own way, love Alberta. In their own way, they love Alberta. Because they know Alberta and they live in Alberta. And even though they may be misguided, at the bottom there is a love for this place. What you have are 10 hand-picked, political activist, mercenaries who have come here for a tour of duty, going back when they’re done. They have no stake in the outcome. Perhaps their stake is to do to Alberta what they’ve wanted to do for 20 years. Who’s this? This is Shannon Phillips, she’s the new environment minister. She wants higher taxes.

0:41:31 EL: Shannon Phillips wants more taxes, no surprise there, if you’d just [0:41:37] ____. Shannon Phillips is an Albertan from Lethbridge, was with the Alberta Federation of Labor. She went to BC to volunteer on Adrian Dix’s campaign. Stop and think about that. She’s an Albertan who went there to fight against the oil sands from there. She wanted to block the oil sands from there. Here’s what she has to say about royalties.

0:42:17 EL: I wanna tell you one more thing about Shannon Phillips, she’s very smart, she’s very activist. She’s a bit of an amateur writer, semi-pro, I’d say. She was doing a TV story about the oil sands. Oh okay she’s got some opinion here. She’s interested in the oil sands, well that’s a step up from the energy minister, isn’t it?


0:42:38 EL: Now was she writing for a blog, was she writing for a union newspaper? She was with the AFL. Was she writing for the CBC, who is she working for? Who did she work for? Shannon Philips worked… Did you say it? Al Jazeera. Shannon Philips was hired by the state broadcaster of the OPEC dictatorship called Qatar or Qatar. I suppose that’s one notch better than working for Vladimir Putin’s RT.


0:43:13 EL: I wonder how they paid her, what do they call it over there, Riyals or Dinars? Or maybe they just paid her in [0:43:23] ____ compass oil. “Here’s a barrel”. I don’t know. Now, the work she did, I have not found it online. But she wrote a story about it several years ago, about how she worked on this film project for Al Jazeera. How do you even make that connection? I wouldn’t even know how to go about that. How do you let Al Jazeera know that you want to work for them? How does that even come to pass?

0:43:52 S?: The CBC…

0:43:53 EL: The CBC…



0:43:54 EL: Well, that’s the state broadcaster, but at least it’s our state. Who would work for a OPEC dictatorship? And why would you do that? This is from her Facebook page, it’s been deleted before I could take a snapshot of it, but it’s widely circulated on the internet. Here’s what she wrote. This was on the anniversary of… Oh this was on the passing of Nelson Mandela. “Nelson Mandela didn’t do 27 years in prison for sitting on the wrong seat of the bus. He was there in part for his role in bombing a power station in order to make machinery of a racist regime grind to a halt. A regime most of the world including Canada, under those great Liberals Pearson and Trudeau, thought was completely a-okay.”

0:44:42 EL: Now so far I have to say, I don’t mind someone passionately standing up for Nelson Mandela. He was fighting against a racist regime. But look at the sentences to follow. “So can we just remember that next time we see indigenous people blockading a highway? Thanks.” Okay so there’s a few things here. I say again, if you believe in Aboriginal people having a full share of life in Canada, then you’re my kind of person. If you believe in economic development on Indian bands, if you believe in helping Aboriginal folks and frankly even regressing [0:45:15] ____ ’cause you’re my kinda person. But that is not what this is about. This is about “So let’s get drawn.” It’s not “So let’s develop, so let’s get rid of the Indian Act because Red [0:45:28] ____ isn’t racism.” No, no, no, no. This is so… Oh and it’s in comparison to a word as evil as the apartheid state, that’s the first thing. ‘Cause so, when an indigenous person blocking illegally a highway, a pipeline, a road, just remember there the Nelson Mandela analogy. Now this is the Environment Minister now, in charge of enforcing the law. “If a Northern Gateway ever puts the shovel in the ground, it is unquestionable that foreign funded mercenaries, we’ll block it”. Non-violently, violently, I don’t know. Unquestionably, they said so.

0:46:15 EL: What would Shannon Philips do? What do you think she’s gonna do? I think she’s gonna give them the Medal of Honor. You think this woman’s gonna apply the rule of law equally? Based on politics? Let alone [0:46:25] ____ got race. Let’s say it’s a bunch of white folks like Colin Piquette blocking the pipeline? She doesn’t even believe in the rule of law.

0:46:34 EL: Okay, let’s talk about the energy minister, Margaret McCuaig-Boyd. She’s from Fairview which is about five and a half hours by car from here. She’s a teacher. And I gotta tell you, as NDP MLAs goes, she’s sort of normal. You’re out in Fairview, you’re out there, you’re not like an elitist activist like Shannon Phillips or you’re not like a beat poet like Rob Loyola. She’s sort of normal. There are some normalish Andy Peters out there. But I can tell you, in her 62 years, she has never given one moment’s thought to oil and gas. This has not been part of her life. Why would you choose someone with zero experience, like none, not even thinking about… There’s no one in the NDP caucus who has any actual experience in oil companies. But fine. But how about someone who hasn’t even written about it or thought about it or studied about it or knows someone? Why would you almost deliberately choose someone the farthest away from it that has no… And this is a complex file. Just understanding royalties is a very complex thing. Even understanding the technology, if you want environmental remediation, fracking, and bitumen, and tailings ponds, and SAGD, and water recycling…

0:48:01 EL: There is a lot… It will take her, even if she studies all the time and doesn’t go back to Fairview, stays at the legislature and is brief, it will take her years just to even have a vocabulary. Why would you put someone like that? Well that’s why I put her on this page with Graham Mitchell. Who here knows Graham Mitchell? Anybody? Anybody seen Graham Mitchell around? Of course not. Why would you see Graham Mitchell when he’s not from Alberta. Graham Mitchell’s another Toronto boy. Graham Mitchell is the chief of staff to Margaret McCuaid-Boyd, and Graham Mitchell has been studying oil and gas for 15 years. Graham Mitchell is the minister of energy and he flies home on the weekends. Is it true that Margaret McCuaid-Boyd is the Energy Minister? Well that’s what it says on business cards. But who makes the decisions? Who writes the speeches? Who chooses the policy? Who makes the appointments? Well, let me tell you a little bit about Graham Mitchell. I haven’t checked today, I’ll do it, but yesterday I took this snapshot from my computer.

0:49:29 EL: This is the public registry of the office of the commissioner of lobbying of Canada. When you are lobbying Parliament or other Federal decision makers, you must register with the government. And say, “I am a lobbyist, here’s who pays me, here’s who I’m lobbying, and here’s what I’m saying.” There’s a lot in the slogan. Graham Mitchell is a registered lobbyist. He was as of yesterday. He started being chief of staff last week. As of yesterday, he is still a registered lobbyist. He is an anti-oil lobbyist. Graham Mitchell is a registered lobbyist and if you read this registry, one he has various anti-oil goals, one of them is to get cabinet to override the National Energy Board’s decision to approve the Northern Gateway Pipeline. The longest pipeline hearing in Canadian history, 4,000 witnesses signed up. Tens of thousands of pages of evidence. Three very sober-minded panellist, including a status Indian Aboriginal man who lives off a reserve. It could not be a more… And they had a lot of Aboriginal tribes do consultations. This was the hearing of the century.

0:51:00 EL: It got approved, Graham Mitchell goes to Parliament… Oh with a staff of lobbyists answering to him, to override that. And this was active as of yesterday, I could check today. And you’ll see here that his title is executive director for something called a “Leadnow Society”. You may not have heard of Leadnow, I have. It’s funded by a US Foundation. The Tides foundation gave 25,000 bucks a couple of years ago., that’s George Soros founded that organization, gave some money. Leadnow is an online digital campaign organization and they occasionally have street protests too. Let me show you a YouTube ad made by Graham Mitchell. He didn’t hold the camera, but he approved it, he’s the executive director. Just have a look… Now I just isolated 11 seconds of the ad. Now you can see he’s critical of the Harper Conservatives, it’s sort of hard to see the colours on here. Now I don’t blame an NDP-er for being against the conserves. That’s what politicians do, they spar with each other, there’s an adversarial system. We want them to hate each other. That brings out the best in our system. That’s our belief of a multi-party launching. I do not have any disagreement with Graham Mitchell hating Steven Harper. But look at the 11 seconds of this ad that Graham Mitchell approved short weeks ago. Oops.

0:52:55 EL: I’m gonna play that again ’cause it went by fast. Look at the hate words on the screen. Tar sands, mining, forestry is on it too. Forestry. Subsidies, as if the oil sands don’t float the entire boat in the country, look at this, oops sorry…

0:53:23 EL: They’re always about playing to a foreign audience, maybe ’cause they’re funded by foreigners. I don’t know. It’s never about what’s the Canadian interest; certainly not what’s the Alberta interest. If this was Steven Harper’s bad, Steven Harper’s mean, got it, get it. But this is about the oil industry, tar sands, mining, forestry, slopping oil. Well of course, why is this a surprise? He is an anti-oil lobbyist, as of as recently as yesterday morning. Let’s just watch it one more time. It’s only 11 seconds.

0:54:08 EL: Now, that’s what he approved. But is there a way to see into his heart; into his mind? This is what he does for a living. Maybe when he’s at home he really likes oil.


0:54:22 EL: Well, of course he really likes oil, it’s part of our modern economy. He jets around, he uses jet fuel, he uses high tech equipment, plastic jugs, we all love oil. The Unabomber, who claimed he didn’t like oil, if you go up to his little hut in the forest… You can Google, you can see a picture, he had plastic tubs for water. So even the Unabomber knew the value of oil because it’s better to put water in a plastic jug than in some animal bladder.


0:54:51 EL: So, Graham Mitchell actually loves oil, loves jet fuel, loves being a fancy guy. He just despises… Well, he actually doesn’t despise oil, he just despises Canadian oil, because I’ve never seen Leadnow protests against OPEC oil and Shannon Phillips didn’t protest about the oil money that was paid to her from Qatar. They just seem to hate Canadian ethical oil don’t they? When’s the last time Greenpeace had a campaign against Saudi Arabia, Iran, Venezuela? They just don’t do that.

0:55:18 EL: When I went on Graham Mitchell’s uncensored Twitter stream, I bet it’s all taken down now, I read all 350 of them and I took snapshots of the 15 that I found most interesting. You know what Twitter is, right? It’s just a quick little thought you type on Twitter, maybe have a few hundred, few thousand people following you. It’s like a personal diary, but the world gets to see it. They’re not scripted, they’re not prepared, it’s not like in that video, which probably took weeks to prepare. These are just thoughts, unguarded, unvarnished, the real Graham Mitchell. I bet this is the leading [0:55:56] ____ but I’d say…

0:55:57 EL: So here’s one, first of all, where does he wanna live? “I want my sons to grow up in a city led by women like [0:56:04] ____ and Olivia Chow. They need to know that anyone can live”. So, what? You think he’d take his kids out of school in Toronto? You think he’s gonna come here and look around for a school? You think he wants to become an Albertan? He’s gonna get a lot of frequent flier points at your expense. He’s a Toronto boy, that’s fine. That’s fine. I’m just not sure if it would work the other way around. What if the mayor of Toronto hired 12 new staff and 10 were from Alberta? That would be a bit weird. That would be a bit weird.

0:56:36 EL: What else did he say? He loves Olivia Chow. He went to an event with her last November and she was speaking and he was Tweeting about it. Olivia Chow’s movement advice, “Stop being nice and demand more.” Okay, so we know who his North Star is, and we know what his style is, demand more. He’s your new boss, by the way. Look at the Big Oil? It’s malignant. Anyone that’s associated with Big Oil is sketchy. Big Oil’s inside track in Ottawa, spell that in back and white. Now he’s the chief of staff for the energy minister now. Does that mean that Big Oil companies don’t, shouldn’t talk to the minister now? ‘Cause then Big Oil having an inside… What does it mean when the man who makes decisions and who ought to deal with oil companies says in advance that the oil companies, he despised them, he denormalized them, he calls them a name. That would be like the agriculture minister saying, “Big wheat.”


0:57:45 EL: Alright, I’m a wheat farmer, can I still meet with you? Are you gonna call me names? Who would be the minister of something they hate? Well, that’s actually a dream come true for him. I think the better question is, who would choose him to be the minister of oil chief of staff? Well, Brian Topp would.

0:58:09 EL: Here’s some more, “Rex Murphy and Big Oil: Friends with benefits? Anyone who associates with Big Oil does such things.” If you’re hearing all that then you can get [0:58:18] ____, he asks you a question. Is it a trick? Is it a trap? Did you set me up? What do you think? What do you think? He was with the Broadbent… I didn’t tell you what else he did, he was the executive director of Leadnow, he was also the director of training for the Broadbent Institute, which is exactly like what it sounds.

0:58:38 EL: Actually it’s not, ’cause when I think Broadbent I think of the ’70s and shag carpet and stuff like that, but the Broadbent Institute is actually the ‘Obama for America’ type internet advocacy group that the NDP has started in Canada with American funding. And so Graham Mitchell worked there and he would re-tweet their tweets, if you get my… See, Graham Mitchell re-tweeted his hostility to oil pipelines. He mocks fossil fuels. This is a conference he helped organize through the Broadbent Institute, called CanRoots. Basically drafted activists. Here it is, a league of ladies helped defeat fracking in Nova Scotia. So he trains people how to fight fracking, as in to get it banned. To get it banned. I wonder how many people work in fracking now, I need to look that stat up, but it would be thousands directly, it would be tens of thousands indirectly. He teaches people how to get them banned. Now he’s in charge of fracking now, how do you feel about that? Who would appoint such a person? Rachel Notley appointed Brian Topp, Brian Topp chose Graham Mitchell, Rachel Notley approved that. How to get a fracking ban.

1:00:00 EL: Because it’s oil pipeline [1:00:01] ____. I mentioned Brian Topp, he’s the chief of staff to the premier himself. Brian Topp is from Toronto and Houston. He also ran the NDP campaign in BC attacking pipelines. But Brian Topp, in 2011 and 2012, ran for NDP Federal Leader himself against Thomas Mulcair, and he went to the debates and he gave speeches. His central theme was global warming. That’s the NDP for you. It’s not jobs. It’s not security against terrorism. It’s global warming. And who’s the punching bag? Who’s the punching bag? Do you have a guess?

1:01:12 EL: The heart of our next government, the heart. Getting fossil-fuel cars out of the roads? That’s as crazy as Rob Loyola, actually.


1:01:23 EL: Getting fossil-fuel cars off our roads. I lived in Edmonton for four years. I miss a lot of things about Edmonton. I don’t miss the winter.


1:01:35 EL: If you don’t have cars in the winter, how are you gonna get around? You gonna bike? What if you’re a mom with kids and a baby? What if you’re an ambulance or a delivery van? Is he even thinking about what he’s saying? Yes, he is. He is creating an enemy and then positing a solution to that enemy. He knows he will actually not get cars off the roads in the second largest country in the world, one of the coldest countries in the world. So why would he suggest it? Because, if he suggests it, if he says oil, gas, cars are the problem, then he can justify a solution that attacks those things through taxes and regulations. A hard cap. What’s a hard cap on carbon mean? That means you can’t do it anymore. If you approve a new oil pipeline, you break the hard cap. The only reason this intelligent clever man says he hates fossil fuel cars, is so that he can excuse himself when he comes to tax your oil. His… You’ve heard of… The heart of his campaign would be targeting Alberta. I’ve read his position papers. He is, “No to pipelines”, just “No”. No to Northern Gateway, no to Trans Mountain, no to [1:03:06] ____, no, no, no. I should have had more quotes but my speech went on too long in Calgary, so I cut it down by half an hour. You’re lucky.


1:03:15 EL: Okay, well I’ve talked about everything… Everyone else other than the premier himself. I’m gonna speed up because it’s already 8:11 and I wanna leave time for question and answer. We’ve talked about the fringes of caucus. We’ve talked about the cabinet. We’ve talked about the key positions of environment, Shannon Phillips, and energy, and I’ve talked of Graham Mitchell as the chief of staff for ministers. We’ve talked about Brian Topp. But there is one person who has approved this all. What does she say? Are all these people pushing her one way? Is she pushing back, or is she going the same direction Rob Loyola is? Let’s start with plain old name calling.

1:04:48 EL: The first thing she says is the pain and suffering of ducks.


1:04:54 EL: That’s sort of an awkward thing to say when you think about it. She was jumping on that same ducks issue that Brian Mason did. She called… The words she uses in every speech are the same; “catastrophe”, “embarrassment”, “crisis”, “calamity”, this is what they call [1:05:10] ____ doing that. She buys the lie that was debunked, that cancer in Fort Chip was caused by the oil sand. The doctor who made that fraudulent claim was investigated by the College of Physicians and Surgeons, that is his fellow doctors, and they found that not only was he lying, but he covered up his patient files when they asked to see them, as the Cancer Board [1:05:32] ____ by law. Doctor John O’Connor is a liar, but he’s worse than that, he’s paid by Greenpeace to lie.

1:05:40 EL: But she repeated his lies. And now it’s true that some fish have tumours, some fish everywhere have tumours, some people have tumours. But she’s ascribing that to the oil sand. By the way, there’s a lot of uranium up in Fort Chip too, but it’s just anti-oil propaganda. Why would there be a difference between Rachel Notley and her Greenpeace staff? I told you about the case a few years ago when her Greenpeace staff broke into an Ed Stelmach event and caused a scene. When you’re hiring people who work for Greenpeace, why would your language be different than Greenpeace? When you go to work for Al Jazeera to attack the oil sands, your ethical competitor, why would your language be different than an OPEC sheik? Listen to the words here.

1:06:54 EL: Forcing companies. Toxic tailing ponds. Eliminate them. Mining has been going on since… Well I guess it happened so, thousands of years, thousands of years, mining. Tailing ponds are an issue for every kind of mine. They’re spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year trying to mitigate them in Alberta. To force companies to eliminate them is to say, “I’m forcing you to find a way to turn lead into gold.” Well, people have been working on that for a while and one day we will develop that alchemy. I’m not saying it can’t be done. But for a politician to simply command from Mount Olympus that tailing ponds be eliminated is actually code for ‘shut them down’, or as her cabinet minister Dave Eggen would say, “No new approval, no new approval.”

1:07:47 EL: Force companies. Toxic tailing ponds. “Toxic, toxic, toxic.” There’s a toxic pipe in your home: It’s your waste water. That’s toxic. There’s an explosive pipe in your home! How do you think natural gas comes to your furnace? Toxic pipe! Explosive pipe! “Toxic, explosive, toxic!” You pour $100 million worth of foreign foundation money attacking something that’s been in use since the time of the Roman aqueducts, pipelines… “Toxic, toxic, pipeline, explosive… ” You can demonize a road if you do that. But this has been absorbed now by the highest elected officer in this province.

1:08:43 EL: Attack the Conservatives, that’s your job, attack the Liberals, that’s your job. You’re attacking the industry? Industry monitoring has failed abysmally? If you go online right now you can see real-time data, real time, broadcast to the public, of water quality in the Athabascan region. There’s no other oil producing region in the world that has that kind of monitoring, let alone transparency. It’s just a fact. What, would you think Nigeria or Russia care about the environment? But the attack was against the industry, not the government. It’s as if question period was to attack workers instead of politicians. And always, always smearing us, to the neighbours, to the world. How’s that solving any… If you think there’s a problem here, then let’s fix the problem here. Why are you shouting our family problems, that you claim we have, to our neighbours? Why are you making an international scene?

1:10:24 EL: So there’s the foreign aspect. There’s the denying the facts. Is there any other oil producer in the world that comes close to our ethics? Our environmental responsibilities? Our [1:10:37] ____? Our treatment of workers? Our civil rights? Of course not. But look at the language here. Village idiot. Village idiot. Village idiot. I happen to believe that whatever flaws there are in the oil PAC and the oil sands and fracking and pipelines, that Albertans are generally good people, generally ethical people, and if there’s a problem we’ll try and fix it. And because we’re flawed men and women, we will make problems and we will have accidents, and occasionally there will be unethical acts of moral turpitude. There might even occasionally be a crime. But I believe that as a community and as an industry we are ethical people. And I think you believe that too because you see the oil and gas industry every day. It’s your neighbour. It’s your friend. Maybe it’s you. And to say, to say…


1:11:32 EL: And by the way we love criticism. We love criticism, and we show it to our free press. To our independent courts. That I think are tilted against the oil PAC. Seriously, a $3,000,000 fine for 1,500 ducks? Give me a break. The fact that we institutionalize criticism like the leader of the opposition. So she’s wrong on the facts, she’s wrong on how we treat the environment, she’s wrong to suggest we’re not better than other jurisdictions, it’s a disgrace I think how she wants to stop our speaking well of ourselves to our competitors. Our competitors are not the friendly Swiss or the chocolate-making superpower of Belgium. Our competitors are the world’s fastest: Saudi Arabia, Iran, the OPEC dictatorships, and she is criticizing us going out into the world and saying, “We are as good if not better?” She’s condemning that exercise, but what really gets me about this is that she says, “For you to have the views that you… I think in your mind, and don’t have, means that we are the village idiots too.”

1:12:41 EL: If she’s calling that corrupt and troubled PC party with all its flaws, if she’s calling them village idiots for having these views, and if you share these views, is she calling you a village idiot too? Is she disparaging you for disagreeing with the facts and the opinions that we are an ethical [1:13:01] ____? And it’s always the same as if… You could say a little bit more about [1:13:06] ____ developed old man, but she is attacking the industry itself and if you don’t know how foul the industry are, you’re a village idiot. You’re a village idiot if you don’t know how foul the industry is. What is the industry? Is it someone with the word “industry” that walks 10 feet tall? Industry is a collection of thousands of people. And she said industry is unethical. What does that mean? That means you are unethical. What else does that mean?

1:13:36 Speaker 2: Canada is unethical?

1:13:37 EL: That’s what she means.

1:13:39 Speaker 3: It means a 3,000 [1:13:40] ____.

1:13:43 EL: That’s right.

1:13:44 S3: [1:13:44] ____.

1:13:46 EL: If she believes it’s unethical, let her be the first to stop using it. I wanna have a quick clip of her that I’ve captioned in here. She’s the telling the truth about [1:13:57] ____.

1:14:09 EL: It’s not true. Go on the website right now,, you can look up any cracked up [1:14:18] ____ find out really what those secret chemicals are. She’s been watching US propaganda. Alright, it’s 8:22. I’ve cut the speech down by half an hour from last night.


1:14:33 EL: Yay!


1:14:37 EL: Let me put it all together for you. “Accidental candidates who are so fringe, no one thought they would be elected including the NDP. Some childish flotsam [1:14:49] ____ “, who cares? Lucky on Debra Drever.


1:14:56 EL: “Some radicals, including [1:14:58] ____.” The radicals. A lot of radicals. But not just in caucus, radicals in cabinet, but not just in cabinet, the senior executive, the chiefs of staff. Ten out of 12 are not even Albertans. They’re just visiting, they have no [1:15:16] ____. Let me say one more thing before I click ‘play’ on this last video. A couple of days ago, the president of Total, fifth largest publicly traded oil company. This is [1:15:30] ____ some… This is western oil company, let me correct my phrasing. It’s a french, it’s a big French oil company. They’ve already put their $11 billion jobs on line on hold. Eleven billion dollars. That’s a big project. That chief said, “If Alberta raises its taxes, it will dissuade investments because it’s already a high tax environment, high labor cost. We can make money more cheaply in oil elsewhere.” Total just just signed a big deal as well [1:16:03] ____. So the president of Total said, “If you go further, this isn’t a threat, it’s just math. You’re making an investment there, not competitive. It’s already the highest cost in the world.” Now, an Albertan, who thinks about the future, who thinks about jobs, who thinks about the revenue, will say that is… Someone might say, “Well, that was meant as a threat.” I don’t think so, I don’t think he meant it as a threat. I think he’s just saying “We will not invest there, if you raise taxes.” That will be bad news. That will be something to be avoided.

1:16:35 EL: Because that… If someone did not invest $11 billion in a province, there would be a lot of opportunities lost. But let’s say you spent your adult life campaigning against the oil sands, against pipelines. Let’s say you fought in the trenches of the BC provincial election to stop pipeline. Let’s say you spent 15 years with Jack Layton in his video with Olivia Chow. I could also mention that Graham Mitchell was Jack Layton’s executive assistant on [1:17:10] ____ Toronto. So you spent your whole life fighting against the oil sands, and you knew you couldn’t really get inside the castle, but if you cut off the pipelines, you could de-market it. If you got universities to divest from energy stocks, you could starve them money. If you try to get some sort of boycott going on, and then by some chance, you get in, you get the keys to the castle, you’re running the show, you’re the chief of staff to the premier, and you hire a chief of staff to the energy minister, dedicated anti oil sands extremists, and you hear the president of Total say, “If you raise taxes, I will not start an $11 billion mine.” Do you have the same reaction as an Albertan? An Albertan says “That’s bad news, that’s $11 billion our province won’t see, that’s thousands of jobs our province won’t see.”

1:18:02 EL: But if your life’s work is to stop oil sands companies from coming to Alberta, if your life’s work is to stop oil sands mines from being built, and this guy says, “I’m not gonna build it if you raise taxes”, that is not a threat, that is not a failure, that is a win, that is a win for you. If you chant on the steps of the legislature, “No more approvals! No more approvals!” And the guy who wants an approval, who actually got an approval for his [1:18:26] ____ mine says, “I’m not gonna proceed”, that is a victory for you if your mind and the heart are in Olivia Chow’s Toronto or Adrian Dix’s Vancouver. That’s a problem with having 10 “colonial” rulers. I wanna play one line of video that sums it all up. This is a video put together by Graham Mitchell’s organization Leadnow. It’s a summary, it’s beautifully done, very inspirational. Leadnow is the organization he ran. Yesterday he was on their website as the executive director, today they took him off after my speech in Calgary, maybe they got [1:19:09] ____. [laughter] But let me play you their highlight reel; it’s really well done.

1:21:03 EL: That’s your boss, by the way. Here’s the problem. In Alberta we have a complicit media and by that I mean they’re in league with the NDP. As you know, five Alberta journalists have just been hired to work for the NDP including the head of the legislature press gallery. I don’t know if they’re gonna get back pay from coverage they gave during the campaign.


1:21:29 EL: So they’re complicit ideologically [1:21:30] ____… It’s hard to type into Google “Graham Mitchell”. There was more coverage of Rachel Notley’s shoes on her swearing-in day than on Brian Topp’s views on oil and gas. Why? Did the media forget that he ran for the NDP leadership? Was it hard to find that on YouTube? It’d take me 90 seconds? So is it laziness or is it complicity? Or is it not wanting to end the honeymoon, is it not wanting to break from the peer pressure “This is a lovely moment”.

1:22:04 EL: Is it that national narrative of “Alberta agrees with us now what they were with evil, this is wonderful, Alberta has decided to stop being Alberta and to be like the rest of us. And so we don’t have to feel inferior anymore as we do when their standard of living is up here, and we have to live off the transfer payments. Tall Poppy Syndrome, I’m glad they’re cut down, let them devour themselves, and we’ll all be miserable in our poverty together.” Don’t think there’s not some of that, don’t think there’s some of that the people who have hated Alberta for a generation and say “Yes, yes, yes, let’s stick in the knife. They wanted change, oh they’ll get change.” I don’t know what’s in the minds and the heart of these people who are celebrating, but I do know this, they’re celebrating and because of that they are not doing research. Let me ask you, other than in the Rebel have you seen any of this information before? Any of it?

1:23:03 S?: No!

1:23:04 EL: Hand up. I want one person. Have you seen any of this before? Yes, where?

1:23:09 Speaker 4: You mean the whole talk?

1:23:10 EL: Any of this, anything here?

1:23:11 S4: Yeah, on Twitter.

1:23:12 EL: On Twitter, okay. Well… In the Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, The Calgary Sun, The Edmonton Sun, CHED 630, AM 770, CBC, CTV, Globe? No? Why? Are they understaffed?


1:23:27 EL: Does the mighty Rebel have more staff? Why, then? I’ve given you a few theories. Why? Why? So who will stand to thwart this? The discredited PC party, lacking moral authority, lacking confidence, lacking leadership, lacking money? I don’t think so. The Wildrose party have some very sympathetic, very sympathetic, they were… There was an attempted destruction of those that came back, but they still are weak and they still need re-building and they have a very green base of MLAs as well, and they’re politicians. And there’s certain things politicians say or don’t say because they’re worried about how the media will treat them and they’re worried about can you dispute the theory of man-made global warming, or you can say to Brian Topp, “No, I actually don’t think climate change should be at the heart of our country.” Brian Jean, a good enough guy, that’s how he stepped into the range when no one else would. His son passed away the night before the campaign, I give him a lot of credit. A workman-like job on the campaign so far; I give him much credit. But are you gonna rely on an elected official? I don’t think you can, he’ll do his job. So who will? Who will?

1:24:53 EL: The oil companies? They got a gun to their head. You can’t expect someone in a hostage situation to fight back against the hostage takers. They can’t. They’re either terrified or trying to hide in a corner or some of them have full blown Stockholm Syndrome. Or there’s some who’ve calculated, “If I’m an oil man and I rush to embrace the NDP first and I come out and spoil their plan, maybe I will have an inside job so I can help tinker with the regulations to be more in the favour of my company than my competitor.” You don’t think these thoughts are going through the oil PACs? Terrified to speak the truth, because the people who were the fringe radicals like the Rob Loyolas, now have more power than anyone that knows anything about the industry.


L: What NGOs will come? I like the taxpayer federation, they’re good. One of their leaders is now a Wildrose MLA, that’s outstanding. They’re a small shop, they’re a small shop. The Manning Center, he’s busy promoting a carbon tax these days.


1:26:04 EL: So the media won’t tell you these facts, and I don’t know why… I saw the Wildrose party tweeted something that I hear about Graham Mitchell that I actually sidestepped. Where’s the facts? Well, we can’t rely on pieces of Wildrose. The media can possibly put a spin on it. The oil patch is terrified and hiding under the desk, so there’s NGOs. Who? Who? Who? Who?

1:26:26 S?: You.

1:26:26 EL: No, you, [laughter] you. You. I’m in exile in Toronto, people. I have a job right now, but maybe you can help. Well it starts with factual research. Everything I show you today is open source, just spend some time on Google, it’s painful to watch 100 hours of video of these people, I can assure you, [laughter] but somebody’s got to do it. The media certainly isn’t gonna. But let’s say we find that research, what do we do with it? I’ve shown you this and there’s 300-400 people here today, I appreciate that. And we had 470… 500 in Calgary yesterday, that’s almost 1000 people. Okay good, it went up to [1:27:11] ____ in two weeks, go to Calgary again. Good that’s 1000 people let’s say, 2000 people all in [1:27:17] ____. It’s a province of four million people, how are you gonna spread the word? Well at the Rebel we have some staff, we’ll make videos, we’ll make news and we’ll make it shareable.

1:27:28 EL: We’ll make it easy for you to flip it to your friends on Facebook, click forward on an email, click share this on Facebook or if you’re on Twitter. So the reason I need you to do that is because we need to go around the gatekeepers in the media, who were once media, then in between the bridge, now it’s a drawbridge. It’s a gate actually, and the media are positively blocking that… They’re positively blocking it. And so once the facts get out, we have to share the news directly with friends and neighbours so that it cannot be censored by journalists who have maybe got one eye on moving to be a spokesman for a cabinet minister, working half as much and getting paid twice as much. You don’t think that goes through the minds of every journalist in this era when journalists are being laid off every month? That maybe if they ingratiate themselves with the NDP they’ll be brought aboard as a spokesman, have benefits, have a government job, be part of a union. You don’t think that goes through their mind? We’ve seen it already with Brian.

1:28:34 EL: On short notice 500 in Calgary, 300-400 here today. Maybe we can, from amongst people here, recruit leaders. I’m not talking about leading a political party, I’m not talking about political parties. That will sort itself out through other processes and in the course of time. I’m talking about Albertans saying, “We did not vote for the NDP because we supported NDP policies. We did not vote for these people because we appreciated the new and supported who they are. We voted for these people simply to throw out the pieces at any cost.” And anyone who takes that vote as an endorsement of an attack on the central Alberta values of industry and hard work, and property rights and entrepreneurism and merit as the state in this province, I’m talking about Albertans showing leadership and reasserting the provincial identity against those, especially from outside the province, who are coming here to destroy it and remake it even in their own image, or to satisfy long time feuds they’ve had with our province and our ideology.

1:29:36 EL: I’m talking about recruiting local grassroots leaders who will have the power to call up men in their towns and throughout the province. Not CEOs who are easy to demonize from the crackpot Rob Loyolas, but the opposite in fact; real workers. I’m not talking about government union workers, I’m talking about people who go out in hardhats and work in oil and gas and come home weary at the end of the day, real workers speaking truth to power and saying to the NDP, “You haven’t represented a man or woman in hardhat in an awfully long time. And if your expertise in oil and gas come from Jack Layton, the son of privilege in Toronto, and you come here and are gonna tell us what labor unionism is… ” This NDP will do more to destroy union jobs than any conservative, I’ll tell you that. Real engagements, something Albertans haven’t done in years. When was the last time Stephen Harper had a fight in this province? Never; there’s nothing Albertans take things for granted. We do other things like real work, real lives because we thought politics was internal here. Well now, we need real organization and I think we can do it. Do you think that Deborah Drever or Rob Loyola has deep roots in the community? No, they were jackpot winners.

1:30:56 EL: Here’s an idea I have, recruit 25,000 names a year for four years. I just told you where the first 2,000 names are gonna come from. 25,000 Albertans a year in four years is 100,000 Albertans. It is not a political party, I want. I’m talking about Albertans who wanna say, “No,” the de-industrialization of the province. You may think that’s impossible the de-industrialization of a province, and I would remind you that on September 1st, 1905 our province were born the exact same time as our twin, Saskatchewan. We were twins, actually they were larger, they had more people, they had more industry. The oil and gas industry which started in the west, started in Saskatchewan. And then the depression hit and the provinces just chose different paths. Bill Aberhart, but then very soon [1:31:57] ____. And soon, the people and the money, and the oil industry moved from the big brother to the little brother. And over the course of the two generations of the NDP rule of Saskatchewan, it went from the bigger brother to the littler one, and we tripled and then quadrupled the population.

1:32:23 EL: Things can change. Detroit was once the highest wage industrial city in the United States. It was the richest city in America. Now it takes a long time to turn Detroit of 1950 into Detroit of 2015. A long time with a bad idea. Do you think it’s inevitable that Rachel Notley will lose in 2019? If it is inevitable, why would it be inevitable? Why?

[background conversation]

1:33:01 EL: Maybe then she… Don Iveson won, then she won re-election in Calgary, no less. It’s not inevitable, if people don’t do anything and people don’t articulate a contrary narrative and people don’t organize and people accept the mainstream media’s official story of things and don’t do their own research and don’t do their own due diligence. If through slice after slice of thin salami slices, the agenda of the NDP is brought forward, each slice so thin that maybe we don’t have our guard up, it’s like that old analogy, you throw a frog, God forbid, in a pot of boiling water it will jump out because of the heat, but you put it in room temperature and heat it up, the frog according to this urban myth, doesn’t notice and it boils to death.

1:33:50 EL: If we allow the NDP to incrementally and slowly change the nature of our problems, take the entrepreneurialism out of it, take the risk taking, take the industry, take the meritocrosy, take the desire to build, to build and to mine and to drill and to find value from nothing. If you take that out of this province, slowly, slowly, slowly it will happen. That’s what happened to Saskatchewan, it’s what happened to Detroit, it will happen if there is no counterbearing force.

1:34:22 S?: Isn’t that also what happened with the NEB?

1:34:26 EL: Isn’t that what happened with the NEB? Well the NEB in my view is something different. Pierre Trudeau lost in 1979, he was done, but Joe Clark frittered away, so Trudeau came back in 1980 with a bonus round. Bonus term that he did not expect, it was his jackpot moment. He knew it was his last term and so he knew he would do whatever he wanted then. And craziest, wildest ideas, because he wasn’t running again, and it may come to pass, without [1:34:57] ____ NDP, and these 10 carbon batteries from other provinces say, you’ve got one term, “Let’s do it, let’s carbon tax it. Let’s ban [1:35:07] ____. Let’s force companies to end… Every dream and scheme, we’ll force it in.” What? They’re not sticking around. They can hardly wait to build a [1:35:14] ____. Is 25,000 names a year too much? And what I mean by names. A name, do what with a name? Have a name how? Let me tell you a story, of a week ago when Tim Hortons caved into some of these [1:35:27] ____ 10 NDP style activists and decided to rip up a contract with Enbridge that had bought ads on the Tim’s TV indoor monitors in their stores.

1:35:36 EL: Four activists funded by one of the same funders of Leadnow. The Hodge foundation gives money to Leadnow. The Hodge Foundation gives money to [1:35:42] ____ and some of us that’s this American group that came out to Tim Hortons. Tim Hortons rips up a contract with Enbridge. Basically saying, “Your oil and gas money is too dirty for us.” Really? You’ve got hundreds of stores co-located in Esso stations. Your company is built on the drive thru.


1:36:04 EL: Essentially Tim Hortons are in the oil patch where guys with hard hats, driving their F150s or bigger, go through… I don’t know [1:36:12] ____ but you’re based on oil and gas, and you say our money isn’t good enough for you. So we’ve started the… At the Rebel, we started to pitching Got a radio app, we bought 450 ad spots by the way. I should tell you Chorus [1:36:30] ____. Chorus, that’s CHET refused our ads on Tim Hortons. Rogers… I forget what other station [1:36:42] ____. But we signed our petition in two days over 8,000 people furious about Tim Hortons disparaging the oil patch. I don’t know if you saw, when I went to Tim Hortons’ head office…


1:37:12 EL: If you haven’t seen it yet, go to I took a stack of those petitions… I’ve printed out 8500 names at a time. And I went to Tim Hortons and I wouldn’t leave till they met with me. The CEO came down, he said, “Turn off the camera.” Yeah, like I”m gonna do that.


1:37:27 EL: And we had a conversation. It was very dispiriting, but… But at this point we have more one of the 10,000 names on that petition, people who have said they wanna fight. Ten thousand people who were sick of taking it from people who had never built anything, but are good at destroying, who actually love oil and gas in their lives, but they don’t respect those who make it. You know, the groups like [1:37:50] ____ they would say, “Where does food come from” “The grocery store.” “Where does power come from?” “The socket, duh”. Those folks who are against oil and gas, but they do not know where it comes from. The methol, that methol is mined. I wanna recruit 25,000 names a year for four years. What am I gonna do with those names? I want them to share the information on the Rebel. I want them to share it directly with their friends so we don’t have to go through mainstream media. And on occasion I want to make a call to action. If somebody else makes a foolish decision, like Chiquita bananas did a three years ago, like Tim Hortons did a week ago, to take a cheap shot at the oil PACs, let’s all give them hell. Let’s all email the CEO, let’s all have a boycott. We had a picket outside of Tim Hortons in Calgary the very next day. Forty people came on 18 hours notice. That’s quite something. Our people generally don’t picket, we’re busy working.



1:38:58 EL: When they come for the oil and gas industry, when they come for fracking to ban it. When they come to ban, “No new approvals,” if we have 10, 20, 30, 50,000 people on the list. If the email comes up, here are the facts, here’s the decision maker, here’s the phone number for Graham Mitchell. Let’s melt his phone. If 100,000 emails go out and 50,000 people open them, and even if only one in a 100 makes a phone call, that’s 500 phone calls. If there’s a minister going on a talk show, put the word out, let’s all call in, and here’s the right question to ask. “You’re still taking money from the Hodge foundation? You still stand by your statements and Leadnow that Big Oil is disgraceful? You still a lobbyist against oil pipelines? For 15 years you were against oil and gas, you still hold those views? Are we expected to believe you don’t despise us now? There are things we can do and ask if thousands of Albertans decide to do it at once. And I’m not saying this will be a weekly activity, although for some people it might be. But I think that once a month or once a quarter there will be something that will be so appalling or so encouraging.

1:40:06 EL: Maybe Colin Piquette decides that he actually wants to be entrepreneurial and wants to stop something particularly crazy, wouldn’t it be a pleasure for 1,000 Albertans to support? If there was one sane person in that crazy circus, wouldn’t it be great to show support? Listen a guy can dream. I want to have 10 more town halls in Alberta where we share these facts. We’ve done it in Calgary now, we’ve done it in Edmonton now, before [1:40:34] ____ we’re going back to Calgary. I wanna do it in [1:40:36] ____. I wanna go to other towns and cities and spread the word. I wanna get people involved. I want volunteers. Yesterday in Calgary someone said, “If you start an office here, I’ll volunteer to staff it.” “Okay, let me see some reference first, but appreciate the kind offer.”

1:40:54 EL: There’s a guy yesterday said, “I’m a web master. I can help you out too.” We need all the help we can get. There is room for volunteers. We do not have money from the Big [1:41:01] ____. We don’t have money from US foundations like the NDP does. We don’t have foreign activists coming in. We call them foreign because in fact, Robin Steudel who’s the chief of staff to Brian Mason, she actually was an organizer, a field organizer for Barack Obama. I’m not even kidding, and now she’s the chief of staff in Alberta. I want you to join up now. Can you take out your smartphones? I know that’s something people normally don’t tell you to do at a meeting. But will you take out your phone now? Can you send me a text message? It’s really easy to do. I don’t have any… Everyone knows how to text, but it you’ve never texted before, you just go to text message and you just do 2… And you just type that phone number: 647-360-1663, 647-360-1663.

1:42:02 S?: Alright, you dial 1 first?

1:42:02 EL: No, you don’t dial 1 first. And then, you type the word “Alberta”, as your message, okay? And you joined up, how easy was that? How easy was that? So you have joined the Rebel now. And so it gets fun now, ’cause it says, “What’s your name, blah, blah, blah.” It’s sort of a game now.


1:42:28 EL: Now what am I gonna do with your name? I’m gonna put you on my list of 100,000 soldiers that I know. Yeah?

[background conversation]

1:42:40 EL: You know what? If you text again, that way I know that you were here at the meeting. So text again. Plus it’s sort of fun, the back and forth with the cell phones.


1:42:50 EL: Why? What I mean about… You can opt out anytime. There’s no… You can opt out, you can send an email, you can [1:42:57] ____ What I’m talking about is filling the gap. I like Brian Jean by the way, I like the Wildrose; it’s not enough. There’s probably some good folks up in the PC Party; sure that’s not enough. I’m not saying there’s no one in the media party, sort of waiting for them. Oil and gas folks, they can’t do anything, they’re held hostage. You obviously care enough to come out in spite a tornado warning. I’m saying, give me your email address or your phone number. I’ll talk to you once a month, maybe more frequently if I have any bright ideas. If you have bright ideas, send them to me. I come back to my point. If we don’t do something… No, let me rephrase that, if you don’t do something, who are you waiting for? Folks, I want to thank you for coming today, and I wanna say a few more words before we go. I wanna thank the volunteers, who are outstanding. Will you join with me in another round of applause for the volunteers?


1:44:05 EL: And you’ll notice that our volunteers are wearing some fun t-shirts. Let’s take a look-see. On the front, very tasteful in the front, just the And now let’s see the back of the shirt. It’s sort of like humorously, “The People’s Republic of Alberta”.


1:44:21 EL: It’s just a little thing.


1:44:29 EL: If you volunteer, you can get it at the We’ve got a few other things. Just, some folks were saying where they are. Now, I have spoken far too long, but if there is an appetite, let’s take a few questions or you can give me your comments… I see a hand up there. Now, we’ve got a couple of folks with microphones here. Amanda is going, and if you keep your questions brief, I’ll keep my answers brief. Go ahead.

1:44:57 S4: I’d like to point out…

1:44:58 S?: We’ve got, we’ve got the microphone over here.

1:45:00 S4: Oh, Okay. But I’ll be short though, don’t worry. I’m Brett Fawcett. I am blogger at the, and I hope you’re all consumers and patrons of

1:45:11 S?: Whoo!

1:45:12 S4: I have my friend Josh Lepke here. He was in the Wildrose Party, he was the candidate against Brian Mason. And I’m getting to the question right now… Brian Jean, Brian Jean did his damnedest to not make the Wildrose seem too extreme. Rachel Notley was not so bothered about that problem and that didn’t stop her from winning. But I’m now wondering, should the conservative movement in Alberta not be afraid to sound kinda crazy, or radical from the media party’s perspective? So if it’s not gonna stop the NDP, maybe it won’t stop us.

1:45:43 EL: The question is… Oh, we have a microphone going out? The question is, is the Wildrose too concerned…

[background conversation]

1:46:01 EL: Okay, your question is, “Is the Wildrose spending too much time not trying to sound crazy, since it didn’t seem to stop the NDP? Well, the first thing you learn about the media is that they’re not fair. So, if any of the craziness in these NDP candidates had been in the Wildrose, the Wildrose would have been devoured by the media. So the idea that you’re gonna have a playing field with this crop of journalists is a joke. But second of all, it’s never a good idea to be crazy because you’re trying to be a serious responsible government that reflects this wonderful province, this wonderful province is not crazy. And the ideas we’re talking about here today are not crazy. Some of them are slightly controversial in some quarters.

1:46:51 EL: Saying that the theory of man-made global warming is just a theory, and they’re trying to blame any bad weather or even the seasons on global warming is accepted by 97% of scientists… Disputing that narrative is not crazy. And even though the media party says it is, I think thoughtful conservatives… You don’t even have to be conservatives, thoughtful Albertans, will win the day. But we have to show the NDP as they truly are. We have to show the true facts about them, and I think that will disabuse Albertans of any notions that this is a happier, kinder, gentler NDP. It’s not even the NDP of Saskatchewan that was truly Saskatchawanians. This is the NDP of Jack Layton and downtown Vancouver and David Suzuki. Okay, next question, microphone there, and I see some hands, do you have someone back there?

[background conversation]

1:48:22 Speaker 5: Now there’s some great people here. I see Drew Barnes. I saw Rick Strankman. They can do something in the legislator’s beat for us. Now you said that we’re the tool. We need to work. What is that method? I’ve written blogs and whatnot. I got 4,000 views on blogs with minimum wage. How do we get that into a wider audience online? I have 125 Twitter friends. That’s not gonna to help me, right? 600, sorry. Where can we put this stuff to get more known? Is there maybe a chance that maybe the Rebel would look at putting a page up where people can submit? Maybe they’ll say, “Hey, we’ll post these online”.

1:49:03 EL: I don’t if you guys heard, the idea is how do we spread the word? How do we go wider? Even if our own little networks are only 100 people or so? Well one answer is, if you do something interesting and new, people will come. We had a very interesting commentary on our website two days ago by a teenager named Lauren Southern, that as of today, has more than 600,000 views. You can look at the view cam yourself. Why? There’s no magic to it. You just have to find something interesting and amazing and people will come to it. I believe the facts that we’ve shown here today. This was not a particularly polished presentation. But these facts are in their own way interesting and amazing. It’s my job at the Rebel now to process these. I was literally working on this today. If you have something interesting and amazing, write it, share it, blog it, tweet it. We have a community blog.


1:50:11 EL: But don’t underestimate the power of sharing within your circle. Facebook is the source of 75% of our traffic because it’s severely normal people sharing things with their friends. Twitter’s more about sharing things with your enemies I think.


1:50:30 EL: But let me say what I said before. I’m not the answer. I will not be the answer, I can’t be the answer. For a variety of reasons, but the main one is that if this is gonna work, it has to be real, and it has to be led by real people. I’m happy to help. I’m happy to boost. I’m happy to give some strategic suggestions. I’m happy to compile a list. But it’s gotta be real severely normal people in every town, every community who step up and take more and more of a role. Now you’ve come here today, that’s a statement right there. It’s a commitment right there. Everyone has a different way of helping. Some people love to blog. Some people like to Twitter or tweet. Some people like to share on Facebook. Some people love email lists. Some people like to call into talk radio, it’s very powerful. Some people love to write letters to the editor of newspapers. Some people like to work in an office, like this lady in Calgary, who volunteered to staff an office there. Some people are very shy. Some people have more money than time, they can donate. I would ask for your help to do that. The rental of this facility and the PA system and we hired security. We needed it in Calgary, I don’t think we need it tonight, is several thousand dollars.

1:51:43 EL: We’ve got some hard hats out front if you wanna put a buck or two on your way out, I’d be grateful. What I’m saying is, there’s room for anybody to do it, and some of the ideas will come from you. The basic tools of organization, but they start research. Why are we doing this? If you don’t have a good reason why, that’s evidence based, nothing will come from it. I think that people in the oil and gas industry have been used to saying “I’m not gonna get involved, I’m too busy working, someone else is taking care of the politics, good enough, so I’ll go work my lucrative job”. Unfortunately, you cannot be apolitical in Alberta anymore. You can’t be the guy who… Fort McMurray has some of the lowest voters turn out rate in the province. Partly ’cause a lot of those guys still their heart isn’t [1:52:35] ____ in the community a lot, but a lot of those guys have put down roots. They’re true Albertans in every way. They just don’t care for voting. “Oh, it doesn’t matter.” Oh boy, it matters. If Fort McMurray workers don’t start realizing that, there won’t be Fort McMurray workers long. Let me speed up my answers. They’re too long.

1:52:52 Speaker 7: Yes. Hi Ezra. Joan. I have a bit of a challenging question for you tonight because I’ve heard something you say a couple times, and I’m confused by it.

1:53:02 EL: Okay.

1:53:03 S7: You made a lot of excuses for the oil and gas companies. You said, “We don’t have big money. We don’t have the media behind us. We don’t have any… We’re just a bunch of small people.” But the oil and gas industry in this province is what we are defending. It’s what we are standing behind. We’re doing it for our own sakes because all of us have a vested interest in the oil and gas, but why are these oil and gas companies, these really powerful, behemoths in many ways, just rolling over to this? I didn’t like it when I saw what happened with the Anchorage situation and Tim Hortons. I haven’t liked it when Shell has said, “Just tell us how much carbon taxes you want us to tax. Well, it’s no problem in the environmental industry; we’ll just pass it on down to the consumer”. I think it’s time for the oil and gas companies to stand up and be counted with this… With the rest of us too.


1:53:59 EL: I appreciate every sentiment you said there but let me put some ideas back at you. What is the mandate of a executive of a company? Shareholder wealth, maximized shareholder wealth. It’s not to fight cultural battles, or even political battles. Because you can’t. Because sometimes cultural battles and political values cost money, they don’t make money. And sometimes there’s a free-rider syndrome going on. People say, “I’ll rely on a tough guy to be the tough guy. I wanna be the good cop. Let the bad cop be the bad cop.” But even before the NDP won, these companies have a lot of pressure points on them, from actual service station retail outlets to various tools of shareholder activism with that the Left is involved with.

1:54:51 EL: But you’re right, there’s cowardice. And there’s going to the lowest common denominator, the one scared person on the board of directors will say, “No, I don’t feel confident doing that, let’s just say global warming is a fact not a theory. I don’t want our company to be the subject of de-industrialization.” So you can understand their fears before but now, just stop and think about what it is like now. Those crazy radicals who were protesting at Occupy Edmonton, and praising Hugo Chavez, are now the younger ones. Which means they control everything, they control the royalties and the taxes. Not only are they probably immune to argument, but they may well be looking for a fight to fight and an enemy to demonize. I’m trying to get into minds of the oil and gas CEOs, that’s the best I can do, but my main answer comes back to my point before. I’m not talking about the industry, I’m talking about tens or hundreds of thousands of people who work in oil and gas.

1:56:03 EL: When I made my case for… And take it to Tim Hortons, I mentioned Enbridge just to identify the fight. But I’m not fighting for a billion dollar company, I’m fighting for… I’m not even fighting for Enbridge workers, I’m fighting for everyone in oil and gas who was disparaged, who was disparaged. And that’s what motivates me. Wealthy, in some cases, multinational companies can take care of themselves, and often they do so by just leaving, Total SA has decided to do business in Russia instead of here. Total doesn’t need me or you to stick up for them, you know who needs me and you to stick up for them? Everyone working in Edmonton and Fort McMurray.

1:56:49 EL: So I’m actually not doing this for the big companies, I’m doing it for our friends and neighbours. And I know that these corporate CEOs, if they’re not a branch plant of a multinational themselves, are terrified, by the world of politics and media, and doubly terrified by the NDP government. It’s like asking an unarmed hostage to free himself. It’s not gonna happen. Let me take two more questions. I don’t have the mic, it’s wherever the roving mic goes.

1:57:23 Speaker 8: Hi. My name is [1:57:23] ____ Norris. I just wanted to suggest, why don’t we have a petition like all these other petitions you have? And petition Rachel Notley to say, this is Alberta and we don’t want 10 out of 12 of the chief of staff to be from another province, that we want you to take those people from our province to represent us.


1:57:50 EL: The question is why don’t we petition Rachel Notley to have Alberta chief of staff, not from out of province. I would say two things, first of all, I don’t think she would respond to that petition because she just made the decisions. And I don’t think that a mere petition would dislodge her mind. What I think would be more useful is to take this information and circulate it far more widely to start to change people’s perceptions about Rachel Notley and her government. Maybe a petition, but the purpose of that petition perhaps would be to gather names to get people involved in other projects. I think…

1:58:37 S?: And make people aware.

1:58:38 EL: To make… I think that the goal there isn’t actually convince Rachel Notley but to share the bad news with other people. Maybe that’s the way to do it. In tomorrow’s Financial Post, I have a 900 word article outlining the case against Graham Mitchell, so there’s other people. So that for example would be suitable for sharing, in fact once I get to my computer I might send it around, and say forward this and to four friends or something. But you’re right, I like how you’re thinking. I’m just trying to think who should the petition go to? Maybe it should be… Maybe we should fill up the email box of the energy minister herself, Margaret McCuaig-Boyd, and try and get a statement from her, a reaction to her or maybe we should… I don’t know, but… Let me think about a little bit but I like your idea.

1:59:31 S?: Give it to the Wildrose and let them title it and [1:59:33] ____…

1:59:36 EL: Well, I think the Wildrose should certainly augment some of these ideas. Let’s take another question.

1:59:44 Speaker 9: Here’s Ryan. I think [1:59:46] ____ Roy Romanow, will be part of the transition, and do you think he might be a voice of reason against some of these eco-extremists that are involved in the party right now? Do you think he might be able to…

1:59:58 EL: Roy Romanow is probably the closest thing to a moderate in this entire government, but his role is modest, limited, and, frankly, almost over. If he had any influence, or if he tried to have any influence, perhaps it’s fair to say he failed. I should tell you that Roy Romanow was not the only person on that transition team. It was a large transition team made up of Ottawa new democrats, like Glen McGrath, and dominated by BC new democrats. And I’m sorry I can’t remember their names off the top of my head without looking them up, there’s so many new names that are unfamiliar to me ’cause I’m not from BC.

2:00:41 EL: Remember who the boss of the show is, it’s Brian Topp. He was the campaign manager for the BC NDP. So if he’s looking for a staff to fill all these slots, where’s he gonna go? To his list of contacts. And they’re all available because the NDP, which thought they were gonna win in BC and they all thought they’d go to work in Victoria? They’re all looking for gigs. And, by the way, a lot of these jobs pay $150,000-200,000 a year. This is as close to a senate appointment, patronist as you get in the NDP. My short answer is, I don’t think Romanow won that, far more numerically and, obviously, decisively worthy activists from Vancouver.

2:01:28 Speaker 10: Ezra, this is more of a comment than a question. On Monday I was driving down the road listening to the Ryan Geskerson Show and he started beeping off about you and [2:01:35] ____. And his text line just went ballistic about supporting you and so he in frustration said, “You tell Ezra Levant that if he wants a one hour free on my show, to phone me.”

2:01:47 EL: Okay.

2:01:48 S1: Yeah.


2:01:56 EL: Okay, well, I’ll take him up on that. Unfortunately I’d have to fly back to exile tonight, so I won’t be in person, but I’ll find a good phone line and I’ll take him up on his offer. I don’t know him well at all, I should tell you. I think he enjoys poking at me, which is flattering, I think. But anyone who is willing to giving me a forum, I give them a grudging level of respect. And I see his comment, a few comments here and there, so I will reach out to him, and why not? Well, that’s… As you can see, I can take two or three.


2:02:38 EL: He should be careful I don’t talk him out of a job and just stay.


2:02:46 EL: And that’s the thing, I believe in free speech, that’s one of my big causes. I fought it with the human rights commission. And I believe that we shouldn’t choose to be rude all of the time, but frankly, you should have the right. And there is no such thing as the counterfeit right not to be offended. So any fellow even on the other side of the isle who’s willing to have a debate or discussion, that’s a plus in my books. Thanks very much. Amanda?

2:03:13 S12: Yes, I have a question for you. In a way to embarrass this government, one of the things we’ve had is a free rein of oxygen through the media. That you can put a stop to, the media will stop giving her oxygen if every time she goes out to a public event, you campaign behind her with signs. It worked in Australia, we actually did make inroads into a person who was an elected official, and they had to go on in shame because it was just too difficult because the things that were on the posters, they weren’t extreme, they weren’t abusive, they were just… It was just truth. And every time that person went in front of the camera with a microphone on it, there was a half a dozen people walking behind asking legitimate questions, in the end, they got no oxygen.

2:04:07 EL: I’d say a few things. There are people in the press gallery who are just ideologically, or even personally, committed to the NDP, and you will not change that. But you can do a guerilla tactic, like you described there. The key is it’s got to be… If you do something guerilla like that, you’ve got to think of the possible unintended consequences, just like if there was a Greenpeace stunt here tonight, as there sort of was in Calgary yesterday, what would the unintended consequences be? They could look like bullies, they could look like thin-skinned people, they could look like your censors, they didn’t try… So you have to be careful that you don’t come across as a bully or a censor, and the information on the placards has to be easy to understand and clear. So it could be a quote…

2:04:56 EL: Yeah. But let me tell you one of the things I would do, if I could raise the funds at The Rebel. We’re still a little company, we only have a handful of staff, but one of the things, as we grow bigger, is I hope to hire a full-time news reporter in Edmonton. And the reason for that is to go to the legislature, every single day, and ask genuine, critical, skeptical questions. Not gotcha questions, but real questions not, “What shoes are you wearing at the swearing in Premier?” There was a story in every paper about that. But, to do some of the basic Google research about these chiefs of staff, about these cabinet ministers, and putting it to them. And how do you question the back answers? It’s probably even gotcha journalism. It’s just the kind of journalism in Ottawa. For example, there are so many skeptical journalists in Ottawa towards the government, they’re constantly going to backbenchers trying to pit one against the other, “You said something extreme.” Run to the other MP, “Do you agree?”

2:06:03 EL: That’s more shenanigans. I’m not even talking about shenanigans, I’m just asking about oil and gas or accountability or tax questions in a way that the rest of the media isn’t doing. And, also, reporting and showing what the media is doing. There’s nothing more illuminating than watching a scrum, because they don’t put a camera on themselves.

2:06:23 EL: So I am trying to raise some dough, The Rebel is just 115 days old by the way. But my next hire, should I be in the position, would be to hire in Edmonton. But let me tell you a story and I’m gonna take just one question after this, but I have an idea. Let me tell you what I did in Vancouver. We didn’t have a budget to hire someone in Vancouver, but there’s a lot of news in Vancouver, isn’t there? So we found four great volunteers. They all had real lives. One’s a student and three are workers. But they love The Rebel, they wanna be a part of it, and they’re serious, so they agreed, amongst this four, to be a special operative team of volunteer news reporters. So we flew out to Vancouver with two camera packages: The camera, tripod, mono-pod, lights, microphones, the whole thing. It costs us $10,000 for those two packs, but it was pretty awesome. We brought all our equipment, we spent a day with these four people, training them with the equipment. It was so easy, you wouldn’t believe how easy it is to use a modern camera, and how inexpensive they are.

2:07:37 EL: And we left, in Vancouver, with these four super volunteers, and we knew them ’cause they were so enthusiastic, these four super volunteers. We left the cameras with them to share and to self-assign stories in concert with us in Toronto. And the fruits of their labor can be seen. That story that had 600,000 hits on YouTube two days ago, with Lauren Southern going to that feminist rally? That was done by our volunteer group. Lauren is one of our four volunteers, and the three guys who were there to protect her and to film, were… That was our crew. So our volunteer crew, total cost to us, $10,000 and the plane tickets to get out of there, have already landed our biggest story ever, in terms of viral video-ness. And, by the way, they’re pretty good at it. The cameras aren’t that tricky.

2:08:31 EL: I would love to find four Edmontonians, maybe it’s someone here tonight, maybe it’s someone you know. You don’t need the skills, these things are so user friendly. You don’t need to be super strong, they’re light, they have a little shoulder harness. You have to be contrarian, you have to have the courage to ask a question even if the journalist standing on either side of you go…


2:09:07 EL: We were in Toronto the other day and the prime minister had a press conference, we sent our cameramen and Marissa Semkiw. And she asked the questions, an excellent question about foreign funding terrorism, and all the fancy Ottawa [2:09:21] ____, “Why did the Rebel get a question?” Why, yeah. Because we’re journalists, and frankly our question was better than theirs, I love that.


2:09:36 EL: I’m sort of thinking out loud, thinking as I speak here, it is much more likely that I would scrape together $10,000 for two cameras to equip a team of four people in Edmonton, than it would be for me to get $60,000 to hire a mobile journalist. And, by the way, our special squad in Vancouver is on a project right now. I’m not gonna tell you because I don’t want the word to get out. It’s a bit of a secret mission. And they told me about it and they’re working with us, and it’s gonna be awesome. I just get the feeling.


2:10:14 EL: If you have the time and interest, if you have the courage to ask tough questions… You don’t have to be telegenic yourself. Some of these guys, one of them is so shy, he doesn’t wanna go on camera, but he’s good at holding the camera. And you know what? You ask a question, it’s the answer that counts. You don’t have to be on camera. So, it depends on your personality, we’ve got a really shy guy out there who loves it ’cause this is his way of contributing. Let me correct what I’ve said. We’re not gonna go over $60,000 for a reporter, so it’s not gonna happen. But we can come up with two camera packs and I’ll come out here with my managing producer, Hannah, and we’ll spend a few hours training you and getting you the confidence on this. And then, not everyday, but maybe once a week, you go and do something, you go to an event, we give you media credentials, you go with the other big boys, but you ask the big boy question.

2:11:07 EL: Yeah, yeah, that’s what I’m talking about. If you’re interested in that, send me an email,, that’s the best email to use for that. If you wanna be part of this camera crew… I met a young man earlier today from the UK, 21 years old, was fighting like heck. I get a feeling that we might have a young volunteer journalist right there, it’s just a hunch I have. That is showbiz, that is showbiz, alright? Let’s take one last question, then we’ll call it a night.

2:11:41 S13: Yeah, Ezra, how large a role did the public sector unions play in electing Rachel Notley?

2:11:48 EL: Thank you. The answer is not large. In Ontario, the public sector unions spent millions of dollars on a third party campaign called Working Families. It was basically a pressure group that did the dirty punching against the conservative Tim [2:12:04] ____, so Kathleen Wynne, the liberal, didn’t have to do the dirty work. They actually spent as much as the entire party. I am quite sure that public sector unions voted for Rachel Notley. Her husband, Lou Arab, is the boss of BP. Of course they voted for her, but there wasn’t a lot of money being spent.

2:12:24 EL: This was a natural tidal wave that could neither have been purchased with money or labor, nor stopped with money or labor. You saw the Abacus poll, 93% of people said, “Enough is enough.” They looked around. The Wildrose had been devastated and they said, “There’s no one else, but… ” And frankly, if the only two choices were NDP or PC, I’d… I’m not looking to be partisan here, but I could understand that mood, but now a lot of trouble has been bought by that emotion and it’s gonna take us four years to fix it.

2:13:01 EL: My friends, I have gone on quite long, and I thank you for coming tonight. I want you to consider being part of this. I will not over-ask things of you. You can do as much or as little as you like. I’m not starting a new political party. I’m not running for office. I’m running a media organization in Toronto that will be a key part of the fight back. We will do research. We will produce journalism. You will help us share it. We’ll help organize events, and we do this because we want Alberta to return to its natural state as the freest, greatest province in Canada and I think we share those thoughts. Thank you.


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:

Here’s one of the ever-so-brave Levant’s passes.

(No idea why the audio isn’t cooperating.)

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 about 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.

Link Byfield – Another Thorn On The Wildrose

Though it took longer than I anticipated, it seems Wildrose leader Danielle Smith, gag order and all, has failed to contain the radical views held by some in her party from seeping out into the public sphere. These views would have been discovered eventually, mind you, as Smith cannot muzzle her candidates (or MLAs, for that matter) forever. However, the candidates who have come under fire in recent days provide a glimpse into the more extreme elements of the Wildrose party.

First there was Edmonton-South-West candidate Allan Hunsperger, a former Pastor, who wrote how tolerance and acceptance of gay people “is cruel and not loving.” You see, gay people should choose “to not live the way they were born,” according to Hunsperger. “You can live the way you were born, and if you die the way you were born, then you will suffer the rest of eternity in the lake of fire, hell, a place of eternal suffering … Warning people not to live the way they were born is not judgment or condemnation — it is love!”

Smith’s reaction to Hunsperger’s commentary was as off-putting as the homophobic screed itself.

“When a person is making personal statements in their capacity as a pastor, which he was, I don’t think anybody should be surprised that they’re expressing certain viewpoints,” Smith explained. “I’m not going to be the sort of politician who engages in discrimination against religious candidates.”

But when it comes to her candidates themselves ‘engaging in discrimination’ toward a group of people? No harm, no foul, apparently; so long as the discrimination is  expressed under the guise of religion.

Ron Leech, Wildrose candidate for Calgary-Greenway, was the next candidate to come down with foot-in-mouth disease. On a weekend radio program, Leech suggested he holds an advantage over his rivals in the riding simply because he’s white.

“I think, as a caucasian, I have an advantage,” explained Leech. “When different community leaders such as a Sikh leader or a Muslim leader speaks they really speak to their own people in many ways. As a caucasian I believe that I can speak to all the community.”

Once again, Smith’s reaction was one of indifference.

“I’m not concerned about (the remarks),” Smith assured reporters. “I think every candidate puts forward their best argument for why they should be the person the way represent the community. I know Dr. Leech runs a private school that has a large number of people from cultural communities. He has a very ethnically diverse riding. He’s made great friendships and in roads with leaders of different cultural communities.”

In other words, he’s not racist because he knows some ethnic people.

Unlike Hunsperger, however, Leech quickly apologized for, what he calls, his poor choice of words. Smith, being the ‘true leader‘ she is, broadcast the apology on twitter and Facebook, thus washing her hands of all responsibility.

As yet, however, there has been no apology or clarification from either Smith or Leech regarding the latter’s 2004 ‘defense of marriage:’

”I do not hate homosexuals, lesbians, adulterers or, for that matter, rapists. What I do hate is sin and its devastating effects on people’s lives … the foundational institution of all human society, always and everywhere.

[…] Redefining marriage to allow the deliberate exclusion of either a father or mother sends a terrible message to the next generation. It says children don’t deserve both parents, and it will further demoralize their own efforts to become parents themselves.

[…] It is biblically, morally and practically reprehensible for the government to pretend that two men or two women engaged in mutual stimulation are the same as a husband and wife, as potential parents. Marriage is not about equal rights; it isn’t a special-interest group. It is a repository for the future of humanity.

All Canadians — including childless homosexuals — benefit from a healthy marriage culture. All Canadians pay the price in increased taxes, mental illness, crime and human suffering when mothers and fathers choose to divorce or not marry. Adding same-sex marriages to a hodgepodge of family groupings will only worsen the confusion.

So I am against same-sex marriage for four reasons:

First, were homosexuality at all legitimate, the Bible would include options other than natural heterosexuality; yet homosexuality is only ever condemned.

So, second, homosexuality, like every other sin, is a conscious rebellion against divinely created order. Scriptures (like Romans 1:26-32) clearly call homosexual behaviour sinful. To deliberately choose to practise a sin is intentional rebellion.

Third, deliberately sterile homosexuality violates God’s intention for human creation itself. The Bible says, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. So God blessed them and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.’ ” (Genesis 1:27-28)

Fourth, homosexuality distorts the image of God. The image of God comprises both male and female, a complementarity eternal and everlasting.

To affirm homosexuality is to distort the image of God, to insult the nature and being of God.”

To his credit, and in direct op[position to Hunsperger, Leech does state “gays and lesbians have the right to live as they choose,” so there’s that …

But I digress.

The purpose of this piece is to provide a glimpse of another Wildrose candidate who, so far, has avoided media scrutiny. In addition, it seems someone has gone to great lengths to cleanse the internet of his written work.

Link Byfield, editor and publisher of the (now defunct) Alberta Report magazine, is the Wildrose candidate for Barrhead-Westlock-Morinville. A former ‘senator-in-waiting’, Byfield is beloved among social conservatives everywhere. What puzzles me is, being such a prominent figure, why he has remained silent throughout the campaign on various issues that he was once so eager to write about?

No matter. I archived much of his work years ago.

Whether Byfield’s writings are of any value to potential voters, I suppose is open for interpretation. However, given the public reaction to both Hunsperger and Leech, I suspect more than a few will appreciate having a complete picture of their potential candidate of choice.

Because I do not have (publicly accessible) links to the articles, the following excerpts can be lengthy. But I feel it is important to include as much of the original content as possible.

March 18, 2002 – On the issue of ‘conscience rights,’ the case of Dr. Stephen Dawson, a born again Christian who “refused to prescribe the birth control pill to single women or sildenafil to single men because of his religious beliefs.” Dawson not only abdicated his duties as a medical professional, but distributed photocopies of Bible passages to patients, one of which read “when you do not warn nor dissuade an unrighteous man from his evil ways, he will lose his soul for his iniquity, and his blood will be on your hands.”

He faced charges of professional misconduct, but in the end the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) and Dawson ‘ended their confrontation’ by agreeing a detailed policy statement be posted in his waiting room, and that he refrain from proselytizing to patients.

(Ironically enough, Dawson would later have his license revoked for having “committed an act of professional misconduct in that he engaged in the sexual abuse of a patient.”)

Here is Byfield’s take, in part, on the matter:

“Note well the case of Dr. Stephen Dawson … Not only could it sound the death knell of freedom, but of society as we have known it.

Dr. Dawson is a Christian of no particular denomination. He reads the Bible and I’d think he prays. […] He realized, he says, that he should stop abetting the sins of his patients, so he sent them all a letter explaining that he would no longer write birth-control prescriptions for unmarried women, or dispense Viagra for single men, since this would promote adultery. Nor would he refer anyone to a more compliant doctor.

If any such letter came to me, whether I agreed with it or not, I’d rejoice. […] Last summer four women, even though they were perfectly free to find themselves another contraceptive dealer, complained to the provincial college of physicians. The CPSO has since charged him with “professional misconduct in that he failed to meet the overall moral and professional standard of care.” How ironic. His case is set for April.

Dr. Dawson has sinned against modern sensibilities in two ways, or so I would gather by reading the scathing comments about him in the press. First, he is discriminating against unmarried, sexually active women. This is hopelessly cruel and inconsiderate, apparently …Women have a God-given right (or at least a government-given one) to copulate as they wish without hindrance and lectures from him. Worse, granted that he himself has this mental thing about chastity, he has refused to send them along to someone with views more up to date. He has said that if he did, he might as well give them what they want himself; his responsibility is to discourage them as best he can.

Such intransigence has provoked outrage. “Suppose someone said, ‘I’m uncomfortable with treating a minority,”‘ countered science and religion Professor James Robert Brown in the Barrie Examiner. “I’d say, ‘So long, scum.’ You have no right letting your private beliefs affect your public behaviour.”

If Prof. Brown is the best the University of Toronto can find to moralize on the rights of conscience, God help Ontario. Anyone who could utter a remark so moronic belongs on a human-rights commission somewhere … Only a weak or perverse mind would equate race with sexual behaviour. To refuse medicine to a man because he is white or yellow or black is morally a totally different thing than saying that certain occasions of sexual intercourse should be discouraged. There are no “wrong” races unless you are a racist. There are, however, many, many “wrong” forms of sex, unless you are an imbecile.

[…] There is a growing tendency to mistake hurt feelings for criminal assault, especially on behalf of politically favoured “victim” groups: women, homosexuals, ethnic minorities, etc. To criticize their attitudes or behaviour is to “attack” them, which amounts to sexism, homophobia and racism. Thus freed from unkind comment, they do what they like.

But the worst part of Dr. Dawson’s prosecution is this. He is defending the principle of sexual purpose: that it isn’t just for recreation; it’s to transmit life through the natural institution of the family. Suppress his right to defend the natural family and you render inevitable the only ultimate alternative–the spiritually vacuous Brave New World that is the subject of this week’s cover story by Terry O’Neill. We always want to think that “choices” don’t really matter. They really do. Some paths lead to heaven, others to hell. If as a society we choose to suppress genuine freedom in favour of some fraudulent synthetic substitute, we will soon find ourselves in hell. Dr. Dawson could be forgiven for thinking we’ve already arrived. “

January 1, 2001 – On the issue of same sex marriage.

“ […] Registered Domestic Partnership (RDP). This singularly unattractive label would be affixed to any two people who want to declare themselves mutually dependent for tax and pension purposes, be they a married man and wife, common-law cohabitants, two siblings, two gays or just two long-time friends.

[…] First, all of our “houses of worship” worth the name always have and always will reserve marriage solely to heterosexuals … homosexuality being what it is, relatively few homosexuals and lesbians want to be married anyway. They may want the right, but few seem to want the reality. This whole struggle has been about political mastery, not equal rights, for this is not a right they use … the few who do form more lasting partnerships already have the same tax and benefit rights as normal married couples… the Liberals gave them that last year: everything except the use of the word “marriage.” And now, needless to say, a few activists are determined to get that too, and nothing seems likely to stop them … the goal now is status.

This debate is not … between “traditionalists” and “progressivists.” It’s between nature and perversity; between reality and illusion. The triangle of father, mother and child is a permanent and inescapable norm of human nature. You can always find some workable exceptions to it, but they have to be recognized as exceptions. Any society foolish enough to pretend there is no norm will soon enough suffer grave, even fatal, consequences.

The danger of homosexual marriage is not that there will be many such marriages. There will be few. The danger lies in recognizing them, or affirming them, or pretending they’re just as good as the real thing. It debases the whole institution.

I don’t think it is possible to have a free and orderly society if the state refuses to affirm certain natural moral norms. It’s one thing to say that we should tolerate differences, but quite another to insist that the state not recognize any norms at all. Yet that is what we keep trying to do.

Christians say that man is inclined to rebellion against both God and his own better nature–that his good inclinations have been corrupted by ungodly, unnatural contrary impulses: pride, anger, dishonesty, lust, laziness, jealousy and greed. A good government sets itself to discourage these bad impulses, but can’t succeed unless (a) the government itself can tell good from bad, and (b) most people actually govern themselves. Families are an essential–in fact the essential–agent of that self-government. They are the first and most effective authority of all. Forget that simple fact and you are very soon left with a choice between anarchy and slavery. Which increasingly is our emerging circumstance. “

February 5, 2001 – On homosexuality, apparently being in the same class as, and promoting, pedophilia.

“The like-minded groups we now discreetly refer to as “sexual minorities”–homosexuals, lesbians, pedophiles, etc.–loomed large in the news in January. There was worldwide media attention on two gay pseudo-weddings in Toronto, which were described as a “first” despite the fact that such illegal ceremonies have been occurring in a few obscure renegade “churches” for years.

[…] The January 1-8 edition of the U.S. Weekly Standard newsmagazine carried a chilling story … (documenting) how pedophiles are gaining acceptance as a legitimate “sexual minority,” especially the homosexual variety. This astonishing tolerance is not to be found among the general public … rather it exists among the various social, medical and psychological establishments, and many (though not all) of the homosexual organizations, where it has been incubating securely for over a decade. Now it is creeping stealthily into the areas of high culture and gay literature, cutting-edge cinema, classy advertising, “gay studies” departments, and into the legal system.

The process is identical to the one that has succeeded so well for homosexuality–behaviour which, you may recall, was a crime until 32 years ago. First, pedophilia ceases to be an immoral act; it becomes merely an illness. All the terminology is carefully neutralized: to go on calling it “sexual abuse” is denounced as pedophobic. It then rapidly ceases to be seen as a disease, and becomes merely a different orientation.”

March 19, 2001 – On homosexuals as parents, caregivers, and (apparently incompetent) competent human beings.

“A lesbian in our vicinity named Teresa O’Riordan, I read in our weekly Morinville-Gibbons Free Press, has been appointed to the local Community Justice Committee. She and seven other volunteers will help try to keep young offenders out of jail by giving them guidance and encouragement to turn their lives around.

[…] four years ago Ms. O’Riordan was something of a celebrity, when she had a run-in with the Alberta social services department over her suitability as a foster mother. […]

Ms. T O’Riordan and her then-husband had the reputation in foster-parent circles of being excellent substitute caregivers; in fact, they specialized in severe and difficult cases … but in their middle years in, the middle ’90s, Mr. T departed, Mrs. T discovered herself to be a lesbian, kept possession of the house and brought in a female spouse. Word got around, and when she applied for two more foster children, having only one remaining in her care, she was asked if her new live-in was “more than just a friend.” Having thus run afoul of an Alberta Social Services policy against employing “nontraditional families” for foster purposes, she shared her unhappiness with the Edmonton Journal. Ever vigilant against homophobic intolerance in Alberta’s Tory government, the Journal loudly proclaimed her cause against then minister Stockwell Day.

But Mr. Day soon moved on to Treasury, and his social services successor, Lyle Oberg, put the “nontraditional” policy under “review.” The Alberta government was by now under attack about human rights from lesbians in Calgary, homosexuals in Edmonton, sterilization victims, nine sarcastic judges in the Supreme Court of Canada, the United Nations, federal cabinet ministers, its own addlepated human rights commission, Desmond Tutu and media-driven lobby groups everywhere. So on the question of homosexual fostering and adoption it quietly buckled.

[…] According to the Free Press, she is now a government-paid family counsellor in Athabasca during the day, and presents after-hours family life courses about parenting and anger management in Edmonton. And to boot she’s on one of federal Justice Minister Anne McLellan’s new Gentleness and Compassion Committees.

All of which goes to show how absurdly our public attitudes have been turned on their head. Here we have a divorcee teaching families how to succeed, a lesbian teaching about parenting, and all on the state payroll. Here we see a noted permissivist assigned to monitor young criminals whose most urgent need is probably a good hard kick in the pants.

As for anger management, I can’t help but wonder (bigot that I am) if Ms. T’s household suffers the kind of domestic violence and discord for which lesbian relationships are so notorious. The odds are that it doesn’t, but short of a police complaint or hospital emergency visit, how would anyone know? Did anyone ask? Is anyone these days allowed to ask?

[…] The trouble with Ms. T is not that she is a bad person; I assume she’s a very nice person, a nicer and more caring one than I. Nor is the problem that she’s “different”; we are all in some ways unusual, and if we weren’t it would be a dull world. No, the trouble with Ms. T is simply that there is no Mr. T, and every child should, if at all possible, have a mother and a father. It’s the way nature intended it, and no matter how many lobby groups and judges claim otherwise, the government can’t change nature. Moreover, anyone who can’t see something so obvious has no business teaching others about family life. Of all the things Ms. O’Riordan might have made a livelihood doing, it’s odd she chose this one. And it’s even odder that the people who hired her saw nothing odd about it. I suppose they sensed that the sexual misfits are unaccountably in control of things, and feared that if they didn’t hire Ms. O’Riordan they’d find themselves beset by her ruthless media attack dogs. Rather than risk such a calamity, they put her on the payroll. That’s how it’s done these days.“

November 20, 2000 –  On … Eminem?!? (and Byfield’s selective support for censorship and really, really Big Government.)

“There was much rolling of eyes two weeks ago when authorities in Ontario tried to prevent the loathsome white rapper Marshall Mathers (alias Eminem) from entering Canada. The attempt failed, the concert sold out and there was predictable tut-tutting about the self-defeating futility of anyone trying to censor “freedom of expression.”

Now like most people of reasonable taste, I have never listened to Mr. Mathers’ noise. Reading about it is enough. […]

It probably was a mistake for Ontario Attorney General Jim Flaherty even to suggest there was a chance Mr. Mathers could be kept out for violating Canada’s Criminal Code hate law … he demonstrated his and our utter impotence to establish community standards of any kind at all.

Small-l liberals seem to like it this way. Mr. Mathers “is no more shocking for our time than Elvis and his swivel hips were for his, not to mention Alice Cooper and his chopping up a baby doll on stage in the 1970s,’ wrote Edmonton Journal pop culture apologist David Staples … he thinks the rapper deserves “respect” for giving the “raging ambitions and hormones” of young males a safe outlet. “It crosses a line,” conceded Mr. Staples, “but it’s nothing too horrific, and it certainly expresses feeling.”

Well, yes. And all feelings are equally good, right? So say the liberals. All emotions, no matter how depraved, unreasonable, destructive, self-indulgent, violent and vile–all deserve an unrestrained airing on a public stage, and life will go on. Nothing is shocking, nothing is shameful. Just learn a little tolerance.

[…] Why should we tolerate Eminem? He is bad for music, bad for social peace and trust, bad for morals, bad for his fans, bad for everyone, including himself … That liberals like Mr. Staples can behold 20,000 fans worshipping someone with the manners and morals of pimp, and imagine no evil will come of it if we just look the other way, surely represents some kind of cultural death wish.

It’s time–long past time, in fact–to admit that we have stopped even trying to defend community standards of decency. The job entails someone saying “no” to the parade of creeps who pander for profit to humanity’s worst instincts and impulses. Until about 40 years ago we were willing to do this, and we were a stronger and better people as a result.

What we need is a Criminal Code amendment authorizing municipalities to empanel a jury of citizens, half of them men and half women chosen at random, to arbitrate community standards. If Valerie Smith thinks Mr. Mathers has squandered his right to appear in Toronto, she should make her case to the jurors, and if two-thirds agree with her the concert should be shut down. If a record or video store sells such material, and a jury majority finds it outside community norms, the merchant should be fined.

Horrors! the liberals will cry; that would be censorship. Yes, indeed it would. But what is the alternative? To say there must be no such thing as community standards? To insist that our social norms must always be set by those who are consciously determined to destroy them?

No credible case can be made that a free society never censors anything. A few lingering vestiges of censorship can be found even in our own; public sexual intercourse is still forbidden, for example, at least for now. (But just wait for the chorus: How intolerant of us! How would it harm you?)

The real question is, who gets to say what the community standard is? To whom do we entrust that task? To government bureaucrats? Not likely. To judges? No, they’ve spent the last four decades telling us they don’t feel qualified. But that leaves only one source of authority–namely, the public itself.

So let’s ask the public. Empanel a jury and let the Marshall Mathers of this world make their case.”

When Danielle Smith insists, so long as she is the leader of the Wildrose, she will not legislate on moral issues, I believe her. However, that doesn’t mean Albertans should be electing individuals who have yet to escape the mentality of the 19th century.

One of the more amusing moments to emerge from the Leaders’ Debate was Liberal Leader Raj Sherman’s quip: “This is Alberta, not Alabama.”

The Wildrose would do well to remember that.

Cross-posted at

Secondary Suites And The Right To Affordable Housing

In December 2007, at the height of Calgary’s housing crunch, a report emerged from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation that confirmed what many had long suspected: the cost of renting a two bedroom apartment in Calgary eclipsed that of all major Canadian cities, marking the first time since the CMHC started tracking the data that Calgary tenants paid more than their counterparts in Toronto and Vancouver.

What’s more, the cost of that two bedroom apartment had grown by 83% over the span of a decade, from the $595 paid on average in 1996, to the $1,089 required to rent an equivalent unit in 2007.

A poll conducted in 2008 found that due to this dramatic cost increase (combined with a critically low vacancy rate), half of those sleeping on Calgary streets were employed, including 200 working families – 190 of which included one or more children.

Even those fortunate enough to have secured affordable accommodations before the vacancy rate plummeted to 0.5% were’t immune.

Some Calgarians found themselves among the 2500 tenants unilaterally evicted as landlords raced to convert entire rental complexes into more profitable condominiums, while others faced seemingly obscure rent increases, leaving them little option but to pay hundreds of dollars extra per month in order to stave off eviction.

Such was the experience of Marni Armstrong, whose landlord hiked her rent by 150%, from $600 to $1500 per month in an effort to force her and others from their units so to hasten the process of condo conversion.

Despite widespread calls for the Province to implement rent controls, a measure overwhelmingly supported by homeowners (78%) and renters (92%) in both Calgary and Edmonton, the Stelmach government flatly rejected the idea, even refusing to consider it as a temporary measure.

Because of the Tories’ reluctance to intervene, hundreds, if not thousands, of Calgarians were effectively priced out of the market during the housing crisis, forced onto the streets despite having steady, if not multiple, sources of income.

Skip ahead to 2011, and evidently, little has changed.

According to the most recent data from the CMHC, the average cost of renting a two bedroom apartment in Calgary sits at $1,069 per month, virtually identical to the 2007 market. A 2011 report released by The City of Calgary Community and Neighbourhood Services Social Research Unit outlines the continual need for affordable housing alternativesin the city.

On affordable housing and homelessness, the report states “homelessness is not only a housing problem, but it is always a housing problem.”

“In order to rent a two-bedroom apartment in Calgary in the Private Rental Market without overspending on shelter, a person would need to earn a minimum wage of $20.62 per hour, which is an hourly shortfall of $11.82 over the current Alberta Minimum Wage of $8.80. Stated another way, 2.3 people would need to work full- time for a full-year at the current Alberta Minimum Wage of $8.80 to affordably rent a two-bedroom apartment in Calgary.”

It estimates nearly 40,000 renters in Calgary who “simply cannot afford to pay average market rent [leaving] them at considerable risk of becoming homeless.”

Though Calgary’s city council cannot change decisions made at the provincial level (rent control, minimum wage), they posses the ability to expand the market of safe, affordable housing for both renters, and home owners, simply by making secondary suites legal throughout the city.

The measure currently being considered by city council, and endorsed by influential organizations including the CMHC, Calgary Chamber of Commerce (CCOC), Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB), Canadian Home Builders’ Association – Calgary Region (CHBA), Commercial Real Estate Development Association (NAIOP), Urban Development Institute (UDI), Fraser Institute, Calgary Homeless Foundation (CHF), and the YWCA of Calgary, would be beneficial to all Calgarians, irrespective of age, race, gender, or income.

As noted by the CMHC, legalizing secondary suites is “a relatively inexpensive, low impact way to provide safe, affordable housing to Calgarians [which] affords the opportunity for renters to live in locations … close to their places of work, educational institutions or important services.”

Calgary home owners, both current and prospective, would also benefit from the legalization of secondary suites because rental income from legal suites can assist in paying down, or count toward qualifying for, a home mortgage. In essence, secondary suites make housing more affordable for all Calgarians, regardless of socioeconomic status.

Much of the opposition toward the broad legalization of secondary suites arises from the disconnect between the reality and perception of what constitutes a livable income, as well as attitudes toward those on the lowest end of the bracket.

A Salvation Army report examining Canadians’ attitudes toward poverty found over half of those surveyed believe a family of four “can get by on $30,000 a year or less, including 21 per cent who think $20,000 is enough.” According to Statistics Canada, a Canadian family of four earns, on average, $84.800 annually – more than double what is believed to be the absolute minimum.

On those living in poverty:

– 49 per cent believe if the unemployed really want to work, they’d find a job

– 43 per cent believe all you need to escape poverty is “a good work ethic”

– 41 per cent believe those in poverty “take advantage” of assistance programs

– 28 per cent believe those in poverty have lower moral values

– 23 per cent believe people live in poverty because they’re lazy

The fact is, people who live at or below the poverty line include  students, seniors, and those with struggling with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities. They include single parents, working families, and immigrants new to the Country. Many living in poverty aren’t unemployed, but underemployed – possessing an extensive range of skills and training, but only able to find work in low paying positions.

For these people, having access to safe, affordable accommodations is often the vital first step toward escaping life on the brink.

Affordable housing should never be considered a privilege, but a basic human right.

Calgary prides itself on being a world class city, welcome to all who wish to enjoy the vast array of culture, diversity, and opportunity the city provides.

How attainable this ideal will be for future generations will depend entirely on the ability to afford the opportunity to call Calgary home, and the looming decision on secondary suites could prove to be the deciding factor.

Cross-posted at

Calgary City Council will decide the fate of secondary suites THIS COMING MONDAY, March 7. It’s time to  Take Action, Calgary!

Contact Mayor Nenshi and/or your local Alderman and tell him/her to support the legalization of secondary suites – ALL contact information can be found HERE

Together we can keep the city moving forward, beyond outdated policies, and toward a Better Calgary.