Peter Norman writes entertainingly in The Walrus about an ocean cruise he took with Ezra Levant of the Rebel web site, and twelve dozen of his followers. It’s snidely amusing, when it isn’t a pointed warning to avoid smug “can’t-happen-here” bragging. Let the name Kellie Leitch surface.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, well then a certain US politician must be feeling just a little bit happy. Even though Canada’s alt-right movement is tiny, it is doubtless all that a branch plant can be, and full of true believers.
ImitationMr. Norman sketches the familiar hot topics (climate change is bogus, Muslims are bad, political correctness is wrong, we hate Hilary, and so on).  He also gives a description of the path to the “information bubble” in which we all can now exist.

Finding scant support for his views in the mainstream media, the nascent Rebel turns to Google, where his search for truth might lead to one of the many clickbait videos posted on Levant’s web site. (The Rebel has racked up more than six million YouTube views per month since its launch in early 2015. No one writes a headline like Levant.) Driven by a convert’s zeal, the newly minted Rebel becomes not only a steady consumer of Rebel content but also a publisher—spamming his friends with the stuff on Twitter and Facebook.
One Rebel I met, a middle-aged oil-patch worker from northern Alberta, described his daily media consumption as follows: First he goes to Breitbart for news, then the Rebel for “analysis,” then his local Sun newspaper “for entertainment.” Time permitting, he’ll move on to the Globe and Mail or the Toronto Star or the CBC—but only if he isn’t already “angry enough.” (That last bit was said partly in jest, but the rest was in earnest.)

And Norman touches on the volunteer and paid staff that infest social media to spread these ideas and attack opponents.

In their spare time, some of these Rebels toil as volunteer activists, helming conservative citizens’ groups, blogging, getting into online fights. (“I love it when they block me,” one woman said with relish.)



  1. Stuff like this belongs in another forum, if at all. I thought this was a place for urbanism, not divisive social politics. Please hang your laundry elsewhere.

    1. You’re mistaken, Ms. Stratton. “Stuff like this” belongs everywhere, especially now. South of the border, the online ‘places for urbanism’ you take interest in are now pretty bleak because too many thought it impolite to discuss politics outside the proper forum. I’ll take Ken’s laundry any day if it reminds people to stop and think about whether we want a government akin to the one currently in Washington. A lot of people thought it wouldn’t happen there, either.

    2. The urban/rural-suburban divide is perhaps *the* defining political fact, geographically and culturally. Rob Ford weaponized it. The NDP is divided over it. Christy Clark used it as a referendum wedge.
      Urbanism changes our politics. I believe there is scholarship to that effect: the experience of urban diversity actually changes people’s views. Living in the city tends to make people more liberal. Mixed developments and transit make future liberal voters, just as suburban plots and freeways make future conservative voters.
      At the same time, cities exacerbate and highlight hierarchy and inequality. City and suburb sort us by tribe, by education, by income. Often these are side-by-side, as with our own downtown east side. They are the home of both the poor and the smug elites: a politically explosive combination of others.
      Urbanism is a class thing. To the rich (old neighbourhoods are like old money) go the spoils: the walkable neighbourhoods, the bicycle paths, the subway lines. Like a working class man who would not be caught dead with a posh accent, suburbanites denied these things reject them.
      At its best, urbanism physically challenges echo chambers as we are brought face to face with those who are not like us. (But not all those who are not like us: tragically and perhaps shamefully, many Democrats in U.S. cities did not know a single Trump voter.) At its worst, it dissolves our community bonds and rubs our noses in who we cannot be and what we cannot have.

    3. @ Rebecca, I respectfully disagree.
      Politics is everything in cities. Government involvement — or lack of involvement — in housing, transport, planning policy, governance, corporate subsidies, etc., proves it.
      In the case of the Rebel, it’s religion.

  2. Look no further than our own backyard to find the working class being screwed over by policy wonks. The Catalyst Paper Mill had to idle workers, thanks to policies begun under the esteemed Gordon Campbell to allow raw log shipments out of the province. An absolutely clearcut case of the urban elites shipping jobs offshore with the collusion of politicians. Shameful.

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