Con gong show at the Legislature had plenty to make Albertans wonder about their opposition parties

Posted on December 05, 2016, 1:57 am
9 mins

PHOTOS: Anybody recognize the clowns with the yellow signs? Inquiring minds want to know … and they say they’re prepared to pay good money to find out! (Duncan Kinney photo, grabbed from Twitter.) Below: Ezra Levant, whose Rebel Media organized Saturday’s demonstration at the Alberta Legislature, which failed to leave a positive impression of the conservative Opposition parties’ ability to keep their supporters on message (Edmonton Journal). Below him: Bernard the Former Roughneck with MP Kerry Diotte (Twitter), and Chris Alexander, former Harper government immigration minister and snitch line promoter, now a candidate for the Conservative leadership (CBC).

Perhaps it was a mistake for Alberta’s rattled right-wing parties, discombobulated after the pipeline-approval success of the province’s NDP Government last week, to leave it to Rebel Media to help them recover their lost momentum.

Rebel Media is the political vehicle of Ezra Levant, the former Sun Media broadcaster who now operates his own far-right video blog website and has a reputation as one of Canada’s most prominent online nuisances.

ezraHe is a formidable publicist and organizer who punches well above his intellectual weight in right-wing circles, but he is seen by many Canadians as an online bully with extremist views, unsavoury tactics and a high level of tolerance for people with opinions most of us would consider … well, intolerant.

People who offend him may find themselves on the receiving end of furious campaigns of vilification, assisted by a group of online supporters who seem to see the world in precisely the same way as their hero. I speak from personal experience. Sometimes the victims of these campaigns even discover websites registered in their names that redirect to Rebel Media pages or other apparently ironically chosen websites – readers can check out SandraJansen.ca, OneilCarlier.ca or Climenhaga.com as examples.

Given this, I was surprised that both federal and provincial opposition parties, led by people who presumably want to appear to voters to be serious people and governments in waiting, allowed themselves to be seen so closely associated with a showman like Mr. Levant who, notwithstanding his vocal and enthusiastic fans, is reviled by so many Canadians. We live in a dark age of Donald Trump, though, so perhaps they concluded this sort of thing works just fine.

Still, desperate as they were to change the channel on Premier Rachel Notley’s success getting Ottawa’s approval for the construction two pipelines out of Alberta – which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pointedly said wouldn’t have happened without the NDP’s climate leadership plan – I am surprised these conservative politicians permitted Mr. Levant to travel from his Toronto home to be the public face of what was billed as an anti-carbon-tax demonstration at the Legislature.

bernardAs noted, Mr. Levant is an able organizer, and he did manage to get out a respectable turnout of about 1,000 people in front of the Legislature on a chilly Saturday – leastways, estimates by those who were there, and I wasn’t, varied from about 750 to several thousand. (I’m going with the CBC’s.) Mr. Levant’s online anger brigade quickly labelled anyone who didn’t accept their optimistic estimates as liars.

Nevertheless, it may not be apparent yet, but it is said here things went awry for the Wildrose and Conservative politicians who attended the event when Mr. Levant’s organizers lost control of their message.

Just say no to a carbon tax? Two men appeared with professional looking signs reading “Carbon Tax = $odomy!” and “Call it what it is – $odomy!” When Duncan Kinney, executive director of Progress Alberta took photographs and gleefully posted them on Twitter, he was denounced by an over-the-top Mr. Levant, who claimed the men were an “NDP street team.”

Someone else held up a sign saying “Don’t let gay activists in schools.” Other anonymous souls handed out leaflets claiming “unnecessary immigration is destroying Canada.”

Neal Hancock, the former thespian and political science student best known in his persona as Bernard the Roughneck, counselled members of the crowd to enlist hackers to attack the Alberta government’s computers – which sure sounds suspiciously like counselling a crime.

alexander“Do you guys have any friends who are conservatives who are computer hackers? We need their help! I know there’s a bunch of stuff they could dig up on what’s going on in that building,” said Mr. Hancock, who quit his oil rig job in late October, in recordings of the event.

Opposition Leader Brian Jean stood by silently while Mr. Hancock offered this advice. Edmonton Griesbach Conservative MP Kerry Diotte posed for a photo with Mr. Hancock. Apparently neither of these responsibly employed gentlemen felt the need to say, “Now, just a minute there, young feller!”

Chris Alexander, former Harper Government immigration minister best known for his “barbaric cultural practices” snitch line proposal during the last federal election and now a candidate to replace Stephen Harper as leader of the federal Conservatives, stood by smirking and beating time as the crowd chanted about Premier Notley, with startling lack of originality, “Lock her up! Lock her up!”

Whether or not Mr. Levant had anything to do with any of these things – and, actually, I am inclined to believe him when he says he didn’t, I just don’t believe him when he says the NDP did – the impression was one of a gong show populated by bigots, extremists and folks with no respect for the law, let alone anyone who disagrees with them.

Governments in waiting? Please! Clearly, conservative parties are going to have to find a better way to recover the initiative in their contest with the NDP.

In other words, the rally got seriously off message – and the new message it conveyed will be hard for the Wildrose, PC and Conservative parties to shake.

One other casualty of last Saturday should be efforts by Rebel Media to pass itself off as legitimate media, worthy of being allowed to cover, say, United Nations climate change meetings in Morocco. Then again, what’s the difference, really, between Mr. Levant’s operation, and Paul Godfrey’s?

Getting back to those fellows with the “Carbon Tax = $odomy!” signs, presumably to prove his point, Mr. Levant offered in a Tweet to put up what he termed a $500 bounty for the identity of the pair. Progress Alberta’s Duncan Kinney tweeted that he would match that offer with another $500.

Anyone who can identify the pair, however, will need to contact, and collect from, Messrs. Levant and Kinney directly. Don’t look at me! I’m just a medium of information.

‘This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

42 Comments to: Con gong show at the Legislature had plenty to make Albertans wonder about their opposition parties

  1. Reim

    December 5th, 2016

    Geezz that’s original. I’ve never heard the chant ‘lock her up’ before. I wonder who thought that up…….?

    Reply
    • Dave

      December 5th, 2016

      I guess we just need to lock up any liberal woman with the temerity to try to run a government.

      Reply
  2. Reynold Reimer

    December 5th, 2016

    So if the government were to tax $odomy how would the government know when it was ocurring? Would the clowns with the yellow signs self report?

    Reply
  3. J.E. Molnar

    December 5th, 2016

    No politician should be associated with a hostile rally that fosters hate speech, encourages homophobic and xenophobic messages and promotes cyber-crime against the government.

    Severely normal Albertans need to once and for all write off these odious, fanatical, far-right fringe politicians and their ardent supporters and render them to a political footnote. And more importantly, mainstream media needs to ignore their manufactured hissy fits and stop giving them a video soapbox.

    Reply
    • Bob Raynard

      December 5th, 2016

      I agree, J. E. Media covering Donald Trump’s stunts had to help him get elected.

      Reply
    • Kang the barbarian

      December 5th, 2016

      “Severely normal Albertans” bought into this whole post-truth system when they accepted the lies put out by the Conservatives over the National Energy Program (NEP), which was signed, supported, and endorsed by Premier Peter Lougheed and later vilified and lied about by Saint Ralph Klein.

      Using political lies and fear to create hatred is a drug that is almost impossible to eliminate from the body politic and its effectiveness just keeps getting stronger each time it is used. The US got Trump and I’m willing to bet we get the equally subversive Kenney.

      The Ab NDP had fair warning about this, as did the Federal Liberals. Now we all get to reap the whirlwind they have sown with their pathetic attempts at accommodation and inclusion.

      Imagine an NDP Premier expending all her political capital to support the foreign owned oil industry whose supporters use those who want her dead.

      Reply
  4. December 5th, 2016

    “Don’t look at me! I’m just a medium of information” … and as that medium I hope you or someone else follows up to see if/when they are identified. Or will it, as (irre)Levant no doubt hopes, just ‘go away’?

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      December 5th, 2016

      I will publish the identities of these individuals, with the proviso that they I can be confident the right people have in fact been named.

      Closeup on $odomy Sign Men

      Reply
  5. tom in ontario

    December 5th, 2016

    Judging by the CBC video, Chris Alexander was moving his hand in time with the chanting, almost encouraging the crowd. The antics should make for a convincing campaign ad.

    Sung to the tune of that old Irish pub song “McNamara’s Band”. Apologies to Bing Crosby.

    Oh my name is Alexander, I’m the leader of the band
    Standing up in front of you and waving me wee hand
    Ezra pumps the old bassoon and the chanting is simply grand
    “Lock her up! Lock her up!”
    Throw Notley in the slam!

    Reply
    • tom in ontario

      December 5th, 2016

      Today on the CBC show Power and Politics with Rosemary Barton, Alexander said he was only waving his finger because he was “trying to find a moment to interpret with what I thought was the real conclusion of what the discussion was.”

      Say what??

      Reply
  6. Bob Raynard

    December 5th, 2016

    I just heard Chris Alexander interviewed on our local CBC morning show. After Mr. Alexander claimed he did not agree with the chants, the interviewer asked him why he didn’t even put up his arms to try and stop it. He claimed it was not up to him to try and censor the crowd. Using that logic he presumably would not interfere with people shouting ‘fire’ in a theatre either.

    As you might expect, Mr. Alexander was in full self promotion mode during the interview. As part of the self promotion he really tried to emphasize how he listened to people. He then talked about how he listened to people before the rally, and WHILE OTHER SPEAKERS WERE SPEAKING. He caught himself halfway through saying ‘while others were speaking’ and edited to ‘while others were at the podium’. Clearly he knew the other speakers weren’t listening to.

    To be fair to the event organizers, the rally was planned before the pipelines were announced. I had actually hoped to attend; I really wanted to see how many monster trucks would be in the parking lot, and how many of the people who absolutely could not afford a carbon tax left those said trucks running on the sunny, plus 3 day.

    I did wonder why Jason Kenney was not part of the program, and I now wonder if he knew that kind of a crowd would not be helpful politically.

    Reply
  7. December 5th, 2016

    @Ezra Levant; contrary to his high opinion of himself is no reporter! The whole thrust of his blog is that a sht disturber and instigator who pays no attention or disregards the world situation that is so limiting our province. The world recession, the world agreement on climate controls of which most are champions of a carbon tax. Levant offers no solutions, not even problems outlined; he is trash from one end to the other.

    Reply
    • Maria

      December 5th, 2016

      That’s why he fits in so well with the Wildrose and Conservatives

      Reply
  8. Gail

    December 5th, 2016

    I’ve seen so many progressive Alberta friends laughing at what happened at the Ledge and being aghast that anyone is taking it seriously. This is terrifying to me because it is exactly the same thing as what happened with Trump. We need to take Levant, the politicians who willing associate with him and his shows, and anyone else supporting it very seriously or they are going to form the next Alberta government. It is time for the progressive left in Alberta to stop laughing and start organizing against them. It is also time for the NDP to cut off one source of funding by putting all the agricultural check-off organizations into receivership which is what should have been done when they came out against Bill 6 last fall.

    We must not laugh at this people as a few misinformed clowns. Their message against an open and tolerant society should be treated seriously. It it time to start being actively opposed to letting them push our society in that intolerant direction.

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      December 5th, 2016

      I agree with Gail that Alberta’s agricultural check-off organizations, set up in many cases by past PC governments to act as a conservative political auxiliary, and which continue to fulfill this mandate, should be rolled up. If farmers want to be members of such groups, they should join of their own free will. Many wouldn’t.

      Reply
      • PIGL

        December 5th, 2016

        What are these organisations, David? Would you consider devoting a posting to them?

        Reply
    • Mitch

      December 5th, 2016

      I certainly agree.

      Reply
    • Maryinga

      December 5th, 2016

      I’m with you as well Gail. The number of cushy positions the conservatives created over their 44 year reign is far greater I suspect than most of us know. But being a member of the NDP Rural Caucus has taught me a great deal about how producers can be held captive by middlemen, interested in skimming off producers. They are undemocratic and should be scrapped.

      Yes. We should take the right wing fringe seriously. they are funny like the danse macabre is funny….but they are also dangerous, because they fuel anger among the people who’s life is getting harder but who don’t understand why. Hate solves nothing; it did lead to the second world war.

      Reply
      • Val

        December 5th, 2016

        when i’m agree with you overall, must point out, ” they fuel anger among the people who’s life is getting harder but who don’t understand why”, wouldn’t be possible if there aren’t reason/basis for it.

        a governing NDP and Ms.Rachel Notley in particular, could be bit less ideologically stubborn but bit more flexible in reacting and acting onto present circumstances.
        it’s in their hands, let say, to postpone for year or so, implementation of carbon tax, due to unforeseen circumstances but instead they choose to not.

        Reply
  9. Alex C Polkovsky

    December 5th, 2016

    If anyone needs a name for a historically hateful themed death punk metal band, here’s a proposal courtesy of Wikipedia:

    “Little Eichmanns” are persons participating in society whose actions, while on an individual scale may seem relatively harmless even to themselves, taken collectively create destructive and immoral systems in which they are actually complicit.

    The political greed which the would be leaders of Alberta and Canada displayed by attending is only made worse by the cowardice of not challenging, correcting, or simply walking away in protest at the sight of the signs that usually dare not speak their names.

    Reply
  10. brett

    December 5th, 2016

    An event with Ezra Levant and Chris Alexander as speakers. That says it all.

    This clearly was not a representative gathering of Albertans. Perhaps Ezra bused in the same bible college students that Kenney used.

    Reply
  11. Rod Adachi

    December 5th, 2016

    Levant lifted the alt-right rock and all the creeps came crawling out from under it.

    Reply
  12. Filostrato

    December 5th, 2016

    Aw. Dear Ezrant is back. I missed him so much.

    Looking at the picture of Bernard the Former Roughneck, hereinafter known as BFR, I was reminded of a sports team mascot, you know, the ones who dress up in costume, put on a really, really big head which wears a fixed expression, usually a manic grin, and communicates by extreme gestures. He was allowed to skate after encouraging cybercrime against the government? Law and Order Party? Yeah. Right.

    As for Chris Alexander, I think he may be losing it. Why would he want people like these, whether genuine nutters or nutters for hire, as supporters?

    Reply
    • Val Jobson

      December 5th, 2016

      I bet Brian Jean is relieved that Chris Alexander is getting more of the attention. He showed bad judgment in attending this mess orchestrated by the Rebel goobers.

      Interesting that Jason Kenney stayed away; maybe he’s started to pay attention to the people who point out the Rebel is poison.

      Reply
  13. political ranger

    December 5th, 2016

    Let’s see; “a respectable crowd of about 1,000 people in front of the Legislature on a chilly Saturday” is “a gong show populated by bigots, extremists and folks with no respect for the law, let alone anyone who disagrees with them.”
    Sounds like the Alberta we all remember.

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      December 5th, 2016

      This may have not been your intention, Ranger, but you have pointed out a certain imprecision in my choice of words. Accordingly, I have amended the post to read “a respectable turnout.” I was not commenting on the respectability of the crowd itself, of course, which, like most gatherings of its size, I imagine had a variety of people, more or less respectable, within its ranks.

      Reply
  14. David

    December 5th, 2016

    Mr. Levant has proven again that he knows how to appeal to the kooks and the cranks, perhaps because he is one himself.

    Any decent person would be embarrassed by this crowd and their behavior, but of course Mr. Levant is not. Fortunately for us, as irritating and annoying as he is, his profile is probably not high enough for many to take him seriously politically. I’m not sure he is doing the politicians who showed up at the rally any favours though – they may suffer from the association.

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      December 5th, 2016

      I am not as confident as you regarding Mr. Levant’s profile. I believe it is very high and that he is not only respected, but encouraged, by many of the most influential people in the Con movement. He was certainly greeted and treated with affection at the 2013 Manning Conference in Ottawa, the annual national Conservative bunfest, which I attended as an appalled observer.

      Reply
      • PIGL

        December 5th, 2016

        He is a hateful, vicious, aggressively deceitful, little, little man, the sort who, in canine form, would receive a swift and severe kick to send him flying from the room. By the grace of the few national institutions left able to stand up to Harper, he was denied a tax-payer financed TV channel of his very own. We dodged that bullet, which would have killed us.

        But I am also not surprised to learn that his is beloved of Manning, that living skull beneath the skin. He and his buddies know their only path to power.

        Reply
      • Val Jobson

        December 5th, 2016

        Someone tweeted that Ken Epp and Rob Anders were present at the rally. Is Anders working for the Kenney campaign?

        Reply
      • Tim

        December 5th, 2016

        Ezra and Rebel Media are already calling on Michael Chong to be “forced” to cross the floor with specific reference to Sandra Jansen. Interesting to see what have always been behind the scenes efforts to drive out left leaning Conservatives now happening right in public view.

        **I actually suspect a Chong floor crossing might very well happen if Kellie Leitch wins the leadership.

        Reply
        • Sam Gunsch

          December 6th, 2016

          Wow. Canada’s extreme RW movement is clearly establishing a pattern of acting like its USA counter-part where Republicans can’t get elected in primaries if they even allow that climate change might be happening, or if they don’t swear on the Repub. bible that they oppose gov’t deficit spending, and so on.

          Reply
      • Bob Raynard

        December 5th, 2016

        Yeah, when he sees someone like Donald Trump get elected for being an obnoxious boor, it makes me wonder if he has any political ambitions.

        Reply
    • Sam Gunsch

      December 5th, 2016

      Further to Climenhaga’s point about Ezra being encouraged by the upper echelons of Conservatives, it’s always been my strong hunch that Ezra was merely the messenger for the ‘ethical oil’ campaign and book. Harper’s gang concocted it and Ezra was the perfect delivery mechanism.

      Reply
      • David

        December 6th, 2016

        Perhaps they sort of view him as a useful idiot. He seems wiling to take risks others wouldn’t and if it blows up he takes the flack, not them. Perhaps that is why they admire him. In this case, Chris Alexander wasn’t quite smart enough to quickly get out of the way and was hit by some of the flack. Kenney was smarter and somehow missed it entirely.

        Reply
  15. Lars

    December 5th, 2016

    …who punches well above his intellectual weight in right-wing circles…

    Ah, who flails around well above his intellectual weight might be a bit more accurate.

    Reply
  16. Bob Raynard

    December 5th, 2016

    Someone who has gotten a free ride so far is Kerry Diotte. Mr. Diotte had no trouble with Bernie the Roughneck encouraging illegal behaviour. Even if the photo of him and BTN was taken before Bernie spoke irresponsibly, Mr. Diotte still posted the picture of them together, presumably not until after the rally.

    Reply
    • Jono

      December 11th, 2016

      Remember when Kerry Diotte ran for mayor of Edmonton with a platform that consisted of little more than fixing the city’s potholes? Talk about a politician with no vision.

      I was extremely disappointed that he was elected as an MP in the 2015 election, and mostly as a result of vote-splitting between the Liberals and NDP too. His recent behaviour hasn’t done anything to change this disappointment.

      Reply
  17. Farmer B

    December 6th, 2016

    As an Albertan who does not agree with the imposition and structure of the NDP’s carbon tax I am disappointed in the aftermath of this demonstration, it really hasn’t helped those of us that disagree with this government’s direction. I think many Albertan’s are mad at the steep rise in taxes and lack of work, this was a poor way of conveying this anger.

    Reply
  18. Jono

    December 11th, 2016

    It was reported by the CBC Calgary that Raging Grannies protesters were ejected from the Calgary hotel where the second anti-carbon tax rally is being held at the request of Rebel Media. I guess Rebel Media is all for free speech unless they disagree with those speaking. Talk about fascism!

    https://twitter.com/CBCCalgary

    Reply

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