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Posted by Grant Buckler on February 16, 2016
Rebel Media, the news organization set up by former Sun News host Ezra Levant, has allegedly been blacklisted by the Alberta NDP. Screenshot by J-Source.

Rebel Media, the news organization set up by former Sun News host Ezra Levant, has allegedly been blacklisted by the Alberta NDP. Screenshot by J-Source.

By Grant Buckler

Rebel Media said it’s been blacklisted by Alberta’s ruling party.

On Jan. 29, Calgary reporter Holly Nicholas and Alberta bureau chief Sheila Gunn Reid went to a government briefing about the oil royalty review for the news organization set up by former Sun News host Ezra Levant. They were allegedly ejected from the event.

According to a column by Lorne Gunter in the Edmonton Sun, on the same day an official from the premier’s office ordered Reid and Nicholas out of the common area of a downtown Calgary hotel where they were waiting to interview an oil industry spokesperson.

Then, on Feb. 3, the news outlet said Reid attempted to attend a joint press briefing by Premier Rachel Notley and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the provincial legislature and was told she was on a “no-go list.”

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The Rebel then had a lawyer write to the provincial government asking for confirmation that such incidents would not occur again. Instead of that response, the outlet received a letter from Jason Fung, a lawyer with Alberta’s Ministry of Justice, which said: “Our client’s position remains that your client and those who identify as being connected to your client are not journalists and are not entitled to access media lock-ups or other such events.”

Premier Notley’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. However, the National Post quoted the premier’s spokesperson as saying the government does not consider Levant a reporter because, in his defence in a 2014 libel trial, he testified that he was a commentator and pundit, and “I don’t think in my entire life I’ve ever called myself a reporter.” The Post also quoted an e-mail from Levant saying he does consider himself a journalist.

The Rebel has posted an online petition and said it intends to sue the provincial government.

Grant Buckler is a retired freelance journalist and a volunteer with Canadian Journalists for Free Expression and lives in Kingston, Ont. 

 

J-Source and ProjetJ are publications of the Canadian Journalism Project, a venture among post-secondary journalism schools and programs across Canada, led by Ryerson University, Université Laval and Carleton University and supported by a group of donors.