POLITICS

Liberal Party Jumps On Rebel Media Fallout To Collect Emails, Jab At Tories

Tory Leader Andrew Scheer said he won't grant interviews to the outlet.

08/18/2017 12:34 EDT | Updated 08/18/2017 14:01 EDT
Matthew Usherwood/The Canadian Press
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer talks with media in Ottawa on June 21, 2017.

The federal Liberals are using Andrew Scheer's change of heart about The Rebel as an opportunity to data mine — and to throw a few jabs at the Tory leader.

The party sent out an email blast to supporters Thursday night calling out the Conservatives for maintaining what it says are "close ties" to the controversial far-right website.

"As Justin Trudeau said this week, we know that Canada is not immune to racist violence and hate. Liberals and all Canadians condemn it in all of its forms," the party said in the email.

"For Andrew Scheer though, this condemnation has been harder to come by — with his Conservative Party maintaining close ties with the far-right Rebel Media organization."

On Friday, the Liberals sent out a similar email declaring that 5,000 Canadians had "spoken up" and called on the Tories to cut ties with Rebel Media.

Scheer gave interviews to The Rebel during the Conservative leadership race, as did other candidates and Tory MPs.

But on Thursday, Scheer issued a statement announcing he would be no longer granting interviews to the website, citing their Charlottesville, Va. coverage as the reason.

The Rebel's reporting on the "Unite the Right" rally that descended on the college town was seen by some as sympathetic to white nationalist organizers and speakers.

Scheer said his boycott would continue until The Rebel's "editorial directions" change.

"I am disgusted by the vile comments made by hate groups this past weekend," Scheer told HuffPost Canada in a statement. "I believe there is fine line between reporting the facts and giving those groups a platform."

Tell the Conservative Party what the rest of Canadians already know: Hate has no place in Canadian politics

The Tory leader stopped short of explicitly condemning the outlet, which The Liberals noticed.

"Canadians are deeply concerned that the Conservative Party and the Rebel Media are still struggling to part ways," reads the email blast. "Andrew Scheer has refused to denounce and end all ties with the organization."

It then asks the recipient to add their name — email and postal code, too — to call on Scheer to cut all ties to The Rebel.

"Tell the Conservative Party what the rest of Canadians already know: Hate has no place in Canadian politics," it states.

Rebel's co-founder leaves

The Rebel has been reeling from a sudden implosion of resignations and explosive allegations.

The site's co-founder, Brian Lilley, was the first to announce his departure this week. He said he was concerned about the "harsh tone" the website had taken on certain issues.

National Post columnist and Rebel contributor Barbara Kay followed shortly after. Media news site Canadaland reported that Gavin McInnes, a Rebel host and a Vice Media co-founder, is also leaving the outlet.

Following the Charlottesville violence, the outlet's "commander" Ezra Levant tried to distance himself from the so-called alt-right, an umbrella term used by white nationalist groups motivated by racism, white supremacy, and populism.

Levant himself says the term has become synonymous with "racism, anti-Semitism and tolerance of neo-Nazism.''

He took another step Thursday to address criticisms — firing Faith Goldy, a Rebel reporter who had gone to Charlottesville. She was let go because of appearance on a podcast hosted by a neo-Nazi group where Goldy and the hosts mocked Levant's Jewish background.

With files from Ryan Maloney and The Canadian Press

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In Photos: Andrew Scheer