Ezra Levant, conservative journalist and founder of Canada’s Rebel News and Sun News networks, recently wrote a book titled The Libranos that is critical of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal party. Now the Canadian government is investigating him.
Levant recorded his interrogation by agents of the Canadian elections commission, who grilled him on why he hadn’t “registered” the book about Trudeau with Canadian authorities ahead of its publication.
In response, Levant can be heard saying: “The day I register with the government to write a book, is the day we no longer are the true north strong and free. And if Elections Canada’s commissioners are stupid enough to prosecute me for writing, publishing and promoting a book, about an election, during an election, then that’s an important fight to have.”
Later in the video, Levant tells the agents that he thinks the investigation is “unlawful” and “political in nature.”
In a letter sent to Rebel News in advance of the interrogation, the Canadian elections commission accuses Levant of breaching the recently-amended Canada Elections Act, which requires third parties to register with the government if they spend more than $500 to engage in “partisan activities that are carried out during an election period” and “election advertising expenses.”
The Act does not apply to books, so long as, according to the Act, “the book was planned to be made available to the public regardless of whether there was to be an election.”
The Canadian government has also begun exploring ways to control online media more tightly. A recent report by a state-appointed panel recommended that the government require all distributors of content in Canada to register with the government for a license. The report also recommends the government give the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission the power to determine what counts as an “accurate, trusted, and reliable” news source.
The minister even confirmed that Breitbart News would be affected by the new scheme.
The CTV interviewer asks: “Here’s another concern — I’ll just raise some of these red flags — there’s a concern that the panel wants to regulate international companies as well. So let me take an example of a controversial site like Breitbart — how would the government force a company like Breitbart, or, I don’t know, the New York Times, Mother Jones, the Daily Mail, how would they force those companies to comply with rules of Canadian content, discoverability — and if they don’t comply, what happens? Will Canadians be blocked from accessing international sites?”
The minister responds, noting that the report doesn’t recommend blocking, but saying “Frankly, I’m not sure I see what the big deal is.”
Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News.