Canadian independent media outlet Rebel Media is, in a new approach to the fight against cancel culture, suing individual Twitter users and employees of a venue who helped organize a boycott of owner Ezra Levant’s book signing.
In October of 2019, Levant signed a contract with Historic Princess Theatres to host two book signing events, one in Edmonton and one in Calgary, during promotions of a book Levant wrote critical of Prime MInister Justin Trudeau called The Libranos: What the Media Won’t Tell you About Justin Trudeau’s Corruption, a play on words between Trudeau’s Liberal Party and the mafia-themed television show The Sopranos.
In a lawsuit filed in Alberta’s Court of Queen’s Bench, Rebel says it advised Princess Theatres owner, Makhan Brar, before the event that Rebel Media events often draw protest from leftists. The Theatre assured Levant it had played movies in the past despite protests and had never cancelled any movie because of protests, reaffirming its commitment to the contract with Rebel. The Pleadings also state Princess Theatres “had successfully hosted Rebel News events in recent years, to sold-out crowds, with no negative ramifications.”
Two days before the Edmonton event, however, Brar advised Rebel that his Edmonton staff members were threatening to quit if the book signing proceeded and asked to have the contract nullified for only the Edmonton event. Rebel replied denying the request, saying that they wished to proceed with the contract and would have a privately hired security company present. They also advised Brar they were happy to speak with the employees in question in order to ease any concerns they may have.
Instead, Brar broke his contract with Rebel for both the Edmonton and the Calgary event.
The fight against cancel culture
In addition to Brar and the Princess Theatres as Defendants, Rebel’s suit also targeted several Twitter users who organized the boycott efforts that ultimately caused Princess Theatres’ breach of contract, as well as two unidentified employees of the Theatres, with a Defamation suit.
In one example, Nancy Lovell, an Alberta resident, Tweeted at Princess Theatre a series of four Tweets containing language such as “Rebel Media and Ezra Levant espouse and promote xenophobia and racism” and that “their rhetoric is aligned with neo-Nazism and far-right fascism and I stand against them,” according to the Pleadings.
After Brar broke his contract, Lovell allegedly also Tweeted “Huzzah! @princessonwhyte has cancelled the book launch of the white-supremacist Ezra Levant of Rebel Media!!”
Another online user, who is referred to as John Doe 1, created a template letter on Google Documents addressing Princess Theatres, calling for a boycott of the book signing. The single page letter similarly claimed “The opinions (and disinformation) spread by these people and others at Rebel Media are symptomatic of the rise of white nationalism, facism, racism, and hate speech and crimes in Canada,” and included variable lines for writers to add in their “personal connection” to the theatre, such as what movies and when they may have watched at the venues.
The letter concludes “However, I must be clear: if the Princess Theatre is a place for far-right hatemongers like Levant and his Rebel Media colleagues (as well as the patrons this event will undoubtedly attract), it is not a safe place for me, and I will not be able to attend any films in the future.”
In actuality, The Libranos, is primarily a book critical of Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada on the basis of political corruption. The book was released during a 2019 Federal Election that saw Trudeau’s Liberal Party go from a majority government to a minority government under Canada’s electoral system, which does not directly elect its Prime Minister.
The promotional slug for the book on Amazon and Goodreads says, “Justin Trudeau’s term as prime minister has been a disaster, but you wouldn’t know it if your only source of news was the Media Party — the liberal-leaning clique of reporters and commentators who would rather take a selfie with Trudeau than ask him a tough question. It’s gotten even worse as the few remaining independent newspapers in Canada signed up for Trudeau’s $600 million media bail-out. You just can’t trust the media anymore, and Canadians know it.”
“Trudeau wasn’t properly vetted by the media in 2015. He slouched across the finish line on the strength of his last name and Baby Boomer nostalgia for the Trudeaumania of the 1960s. The result has been an incompetent government that has hurt Canada’s prosperity at home and our relationships abroad. Canadians know something is desperately wrong — the latest polls show 63% of voters disapprove of Trudeau’s leadership. But with a full-court press from
the Liberal Party, the Media Party and hundreds of third-party campaign groups (including some funded by the same Media Party journalists who will report on the 2019 election) there’s a good chance Trudeau will be re-elected, even if it’s with just a minority.”
“That’s what this book is about: it’s really the case against Justin Trudeau,” says the teaser.
Princess Theatres went out of business amid Alberta’s COVID-19 lockdowns in October. The Theatres originally opened in 1915 and were owned by Brar and his family since 1997.
On March 26, Levant announced Rebel had achieved a victory in their suit, settling with Brar out of court and being granted a written apology for cancelling the contract. Further, the apology revealed the name of the employees in the suit, which allows Rebel to now include them as Defendants in a claim for approximately $18,000 in specific damages plus court-determined damages to Rebel’s reputation, an additional $50,000 in damages for breach of contract, and $100,000 in damages for “Aggravated and Punitive damages,” plus interest and costs.
In the apology, Brar states “I made the decision to cancel those events at the last minute due to pressure from my staff and because of the specter of large community protests” and that “Rebel News had held events at my theatres in the past without incident, and I should not have cancelled these events.”
Brar also said his staff members told him “Rebel News was not welcome on Whyte Avenue in Edmonton and that they had faced problems at other events.”
Levant, in his 12 minute video about the event, said he sympathized with Brar and accepted the apology, saying “I just don’t think he had ever been threatened that way by the mob. You know how cruel people can be on the Internet. Leftists know that kind of threats wouldn’t work on me, so they picked on an immigrant entrepreneur and scared him to death. What a bunch of bullies they were.”
“Who bans a book talk?” Levant asked. “What was so gross is that some of the mob were professors and staff at the University of Alberta. How awful is that? Professors banning book launches. That’s disgraceful, frankly.”