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TORONTO, Ont. Feb 19, 2016/ Troy Media/ – It being Lent and all, I was canvassing Scripture and – bear with me here – I was reminded of Ezra Levant and his Rebels.
Rona Ambrose may think she is the Leader of the Opposition, but she isn’t. Ezra is.
As a lawyer, a political assistant, a magazine publisher, a newspaper columnist, a TV talk-show host, Ezra has always done one thing: get under the skin of the purportedly progressive establishment. If you are a Liberal, a New Democrat, or a “Progressive” Conservative – if you work for the CBC or the Toronto Star or a government – chances are pretty good that Ezra has taken a run at you. He’s good at it.
Over the years, Ezra and I have (briefly) been friends, and we have (mostly) hated each other’s guts. He’s sued me, I’ve sued him. He’s gone after me professionally, I’ve done likewise. It’s been nasty.
In 2011, however, our mutual friend Kory Teneycke was starting up Sun News Network, and he wanted us on it. But not if Ezra and I were going to keep fighting with each other. So we agreed to stop fighting. We didn’t become besties but we laid down our arms. He did his thing, I did mine.
Now, this is where the Bible stuff comes in. Pay attention.
On two occasions, I have tried to be a good Catholic, and I have come to Ezra’s defence. Almost exactly three years ago, Ezra went on TV and said various horrible things about the Roma people. Or, as he called them, gypsies. Among other things, he called the Roma “a culture synonymous with swindlers . . . one of the central characteristics of that culture is that their chief economy is theft and begging.” He went on like that for a while.
Now, I’m married to a person who is Roma. I’m not neutral on the subject. But when I learned that the Attorney-General of Ontario was getting close to having Ezra (and likely Kory) charged criminally for on-air promotion of hatred against an identifiable group, I intervened. Instead of being on Spring Break vacation with my wife and kids, I spent hours on the telephone trying to calm the waters. And get Ezra to apologize on-air. Which, eventually, he and Sun News did. No charges laid, Ezra didn’t go to jail.
Fast-forward three years, to example number 2. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley takes leave of her senses, and decides she is going to pick a fight with Ezra and his Rebel TV online startup thing. She is going to bar him and his ersatz rebellion from press conferences.
Now, Ezra likes to call guys like me “the Media Party.” He says, over and over, that most of Canada’s journalists and editors aren’t media – they’re an actual lefty political party, conspiring to impose a One World Latte Government. Human rights commissions, political correctness, Volvos, month-long Sean Penn film festivals. The Media Party, in other words.
Well, guess who rallied to the defence of Ezra and the Rebel TV gang? Yep. Me. On my web site, on Twitter, on Facebook, in various media interviews, I angrily said that governments shouldn’t ever decide who is a journalist – and that they should leave Ezra and Co. alone. After a day so of this, the Alberta NDP executed a whiplash-inducing reversal. Ezra would be allowed in.
At this point, you are probably wondering: (a) why I kicked off this column with the Biblical references, and (b) why I went to the wall for Ezra et al.
Well, on the latter point, I’m kind of wondering the same thing myself. Here’s why.
Ontario’s now-former Ombudsman, Andre Marin, doesn’t like me.
There’s a reason for that. In the past, I’ve been pretty critical of Marin because I thought he was a vain, thin-skinned bully. Because I thought he didn’t act like a representative of the legislature, he acted like a six-year-old with a bad temper. Because Marin and his senior team have been the subject of several human rights complaints, all settled with secrecy agreements. Because he used public money to buy himself wide-screen TVs for his home and body wash and whatnot. Because he has given contracts worth a quarter million dollars to a friend. And because he – a quasi-judicial officer of the legislature, with more power than any judge or MPP – repeatedly acted like a child on social media.
After I voiced those criticisms, Marin went after me at the Law Society of Upper Canada. I’m a lawyer, and Marin and his acolytes apparently want me disbarred. For being, you know, critical of Andre Marin.
Because Marin’s gang is using taxpayer resources to get me disbarred, and because I’m fighting them off all on my lonesome, I have reluctantly asked for help. Some folks have made donations to a puny legal defence fund, and some have spoken up on my behalf. I’m grateful to them.
But from Ezra and the Rebels – the ones who talk about the importance of free speech all the time? The ones who I have gone to the proverbial wall to defend?
Nada. Zero, zippo, zilch. Not a peep. They refuse to say a word – a single word – in the Marin v. Kinsella battle, which bears more than a passing resemblance to the Notley v. Levant battle.
Which leads me to my Biblical analogy, and to my conclusion.
The Rebel folks demand crucifixion. And, when they get it, they always complain about the view.
And, if you’re up there as well, being crucified with them?
Well, too bad, so sad. You’re the Media Party.
Troy Media columnist Warren Kinsella is a Canadian journalist, political adviser and commentator. Warren is also included in Troy Media’s Unlimited Access subscription plan.
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