Ezra Levant

Ezra Levant

 Credentials

Levant holds a commerce degree from the University of Calgary and law degree from the University of Alberta.  [1]

 Background

Ezra Levant is a Canadian television and radio personality, conservative political activist, and author of Ethical Oil: The Case for Canada's Oil Sands, the book that popularized the phrase “Ethical Oil,” which is now being used by the conservative government in Canada as justification for the expansion of the Athabasca tar sands.

He is the founder and former publisher of The Western Standard, and now runs his own Sun TV program “The Source.”

In his early years, Levant undertook an internship with the Charles G. Koch Foundation's Summer Fellowship program in 1994, and then proceeded to work for the Fraser Institute in 1995 where he wrote Youthquake, which argued for smaller government and privatization of the Canada Pension Plan. [2]

According to a search of the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada, from 2009 until 2010, Levant worked as a lobbyist for Rothman's Incorporated, a manufacturer and distributor of tobacco products. [3]

Stance on Climate Change

Ezra describes man-made global warming as “a theory that has been cast into disrepute through not only the misconduct of its high priests but by scientific observation itself: There has been no measurable global warming since 1998, according to satellite weather data.” [4]

Key Quotes

“And if our goal as moral citizens is to make the world a better place, then there is only once choice: to pump as much oil as we possibly can out of Fort McMurray. Pump and steam and dig and drill and get that oil out of the sand in any and every way we can. Every drop of oil from Alberta is one less drop from some fascist theocracy, or some brutal warlord; one less cent into the treasuries of Russia's secret police and al-Qaeda's murderers.” [5]

“The famous statue of Christ the Redeemer that overlooks Rio de Janeiro is only 130 feet tall. McGuinty's eco-idols [Wind Turbines] will be three times that height, but will serve the same imposing purpose.

“Do not confuse McGuinty's belief system with a true faith. It is a superstition, the tenets of which are capable of being scientifically disproven.

“It is a perverse faith, in that it reveres the “environment” ahead of people who live in it. It is a most ascetic superstition, in that it demands we live less happily and less freely and with less prosperity– the opposite of, say, the Protestant work ethic that helped build Ontario.” [4]

Key Deeds

April, 2012

Ezra Levant's EthicalOil.org, which some argue is a lobby organization for the oil industry, accused the David Suzuki Foundation of “Partisan and Political activity,” and demanded that the foundation's charitable status be reviewed.

The complaint was made in a 44-page letter to the CRA.

March 9, 2011

Ezra Levant and Alykhan Velshi worked together to form the Ethical Oil Institute and its website EthicalOil.org.

DeepClimate prepared an in-depth report on the formation of the “grassroot” organization, and also reveals that both Levant and Velshi shared involvement with the Harper-led conservatives. [6]

Levant's other partner at the Institute is Calgary lawyer Thomas Ross, who is a partner at the law firm McLellan Ross and one of the leaders of the firm’s OilSandsLaw.com initiative (“dedicated to working with those operating in the Canadian oil sands”).

The same search lists him as a past lobbyist for “Achieve Energy Services,” a construction management company that specializes in pipeline construction.

DeSmogBlog also reported connections between EthicalOil.org, oil interests, and the Harper Government, as well as other conservative leaders and groups. At the core is “GoNewclear,” a communications agency run by Hamish Marshall, husband of former Ethical Oil spokesperson Kathryn Marshall and a former Conservative campaigner.

EthicalOil.org has been a strong proponent of the Northern Gateway Pipeline Project, and launched the website OurDecision.ca to push for the project's approval.

EthicalOil.org's former manager Kathryn Marshall refused to answer the question of whether the Ethical Oil Institute received funding from Enbridge, which many viewed as suggesting a possible connection.

December, 2011

Ezra Levant featured well-known climate change skeptic Lord Christopher Monckton, whom Ezra describes as “a bit of a hero of mine” as a guest on his show, The Source. Ezra later describes Monckton as “a bit of a scientist,” not mentioning Monckton's primary background is in journalism. [7], [8]

Ezra asks Monckton about Britain “foolishly signing on to these foreign treaties like Kyoto…” and goes on to mention a “socialist experiment” and “junk science” in the same statement. He later refers to Monckton's skepticism of the “pagan faiths of environmentalism.”

Monckton describes the implementation of climate change policies as “taking away our democracy little by little so no one notices until suddenly it's too late … and that is what I'm trying to stop.”

Monckton is not the only climate change skeptic that Ezra has interviewed on his show. In January, 2012, Levant featured Timothy Ball on his show and discussed Ball's belief that there has been no global warming since 1998, a debunked argument that has long been popular with climate change skeptics. [9]

Levant also featured skeptic Tom Harris, previous director of the High Park Group lobbying firm, who believes that the sun is behind climate change (another popular, and largely debunked climate change skeptic talking point).  [10]

September, 2010

Ezra Levant published Ethical Oil: The Case for Canada's Oil Sands, which makes a case for further developing Alberta's tar sands and sister projects. His book has popularized the concept of “ethical oil” which has been used by the the Conservative government of Stephen Harper and provided the inspiration behind Alykhan Velshi's “Ethical Oil” campaign in the United States and Canada.

Levant's basic thesis is that the Canadian petroleum industry is “heads above other crude producers like Saudi Arabia, Libya, Nigeria and Venezuela” which is the equivalent of conflict oil.

According to Levant, “If we actually want to make the world a better place, a more moral place, the ethical thing to do is to pump as much oil as we possibly can out of the oil sands, knowing that every barrel we produce in Canada displaces a fascist barrel from Saudi Arabia, a misogynist barrel from Iran and a dictatorial barrel from Venezuela.” [11]

Levant also said that “if they [Liberals] believe global warming is an issue, then oilsands oil is superior to other sources of oil, such as California or Venezuela, which both have heavy oil that requires a lot of energy to refine.” [12]

In response to the book, David Suzuki described Levant as an apologist for the oil industry and argued that “the logic is faulty. Just because a country or society is considered 'ethical' does not mean everything it produces or exports is ethical.” [13]

In the Winnipeg Free Press, John Collins criticized some of Levant's sources, noting the presence of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) in the footnotes. [14]

Patrick Brethour, writing in the Literary Review of Canada, said that Levant “fails to make the case for ethical oil” due to two of his key claims.

First, Levant claims that the environmental footprint of the tar sands is shrinking:

“In reality, the oil sands are more environmentally progressive and emit less waste than all sorts of other common industries in Canada and around the world. In just nineteen years, from 1990 to 2009, the intensity of greenhouse gases (GHGs) from the oil sands has plummeted by 38 per cent.”

Second, he claims that the oil sands are less damaging than other kinds of oil:

“Alberta's so-called carbon footprint is actually less of an issue than many other kinds of oil being produced around the world. Relative to other sources of petroleum, the oil sands look better and better all the time.”

Neither of these claims is entirely true, as the oil sands generate more carbon emissions than comparable sources of crude oil, and its emissions are expected to rise in the decades to come. [15]

An “Ethical Oil Echo Chamber” has developed since the book was published in 2010. It started with Sun Media which featured excerpts from Levant's book which gave it national exposure. [16]

Then bloggers like Alykhan Velshi spread the message. Velshi also partnered with Levant in forming the Ethical Oil Institute and the Ethicaloil.org website. The concept then reached politicians like Stephen Harper.

The Ethical Oil campaign has become so pervasive that their advertisements have even appeared on Oprah Winfrey's television network.

November, 2010

Ezra Levant was ordered by a judge to pay $25,000 to Giacomo Vignal, a Canadian Human Rights Commission lawyer, for libeling him with “reckless indifference” to the truth in blog posts about a major hate speech case. [17]

September, 2010

Levant wrote a column for Sun Media that strongly attacked George Soros's character and alleged that as a child he collaborated with the Nazis. [18]
 
Soros threatened to sue Sun Media for libel, and on September 18 they issued a retraction and apology to Soros.

February, 2006

Ezra Levant's Western Standard published the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons depicting Muhammad.

The Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission received complaints from the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada and from the Edmonton Council of Muslim Communities regarding the publication, and a hearing was scheduled for January, 2008.

On the day of the hearing, Levant republished the cartoons on his website. [19]

Both complaints were eventually dropped. [20]

 Affiliations

 Publications

According to one profile, Levant has written six books: [1]

  • Youthquake.  Fraser Institute, 1996.
  • Fight Kyoto: The plan to protect our economy. Essence Publishing, 2002.
  • The War On Fun, Western Standard, 2005.
  • Ethical Oil: The Case for Canada's Oil Sands. McLelland & Stewart, 2010.

 Resources

  1. Joanne Richard. “Pumping up the volume; SUN NEWS PRESENTS EZRA LEVANT,” The Calgary Sun, December 26, 2011. Republished by ezralevant.com.

  2. Klein, Naomi. “It's the 'Youth for Fraser Institute' movement”, Toronto Star, November 25, 1995.

  3. Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada. Search performed April 17, 2012.

  4. Ezra Levant. “It ain't feasible being green,” Ifp, March 20, 2012.

  5. Ethical Oil: The Case for Canada's Oil Sands by Ezra Levant. McClelland & Stewart; First Edition Thus edition (Sep 14 2010). p. 234.

  6. The Institute,” Deep Climate, September 1, 2011.

  7. Ezra Levant Interviews Lord Monckton On Climate Change Chicanery,” YouTube video uploaded by user “blazingcatfur,” December 23, 2011.

  8. Komorowski’s Korner – Ezra Levant Attacks Ontario’s Future,” Cornwall Free News, April 5, 2012.

  9. Cooling climate change concerns,” SunNews, January 31, 2012.

  10. Climate change culpability,” Ezralevant.com. From The Source, September 5, 2011.

  11. Nathan Vanderklippe. “Blood diamonds, blood oil?”, The Globe and Mail, September 13, 2010.

  12. Ethical Oil debuts at #4 on Amazon.ca non-fiction best-seller list!”, Ezralevant.com, September 14, 2010.

  13. David Suzuki. “Canada's Ethical Oil: A Contradiction in Terms,” The Mark News, February 2, 2011.

  14. John K. Collins. “Levant's oil polemic witty, but that doesn't make it right,” Winnipeg Free Press, September 18, 2010.

  15. A Slippery Debate,” Literary Review of Canada, October 2010 issue.

  16. Ezra Levant. “America over a barrel,” The Toronto Sun, September 14, 2010.

  17. Joseph Brean. “Judge orders Ezra Levant to pay $25,000,” National Post, November 20, 2010. Archived December 5, 2010.

  18. Steven Chase. “Billionaire Soros threatening to sue Sun Media,” The Globe and Mail, September 17, 2010.

  19. Keith Bonnel. “Defiant Levant republishes cartoons,” National Post, January 12, 2008. Archived March 23, 2008.

  20. Syed Soharwardy. “Why I'm withdrawing my human rights complaint against Ezra Levant,” The Globe and Mail, February 15, 2008.

  21. Ezra Levant,” Profile at the Fraser Institute. Accessed April 18, 2012.

  22. Ezra Levant,” Wikipedia entry.

  23. Komorowski's Korner at Cornwall Free News.

  24. Leo Hickman. “Canadian campaign puts the spin on 'ethical oil',” The Guardian, July 28, 2011.

  25. Ethical Oil Institute,” SourceWatch Profile.

 
[x]

Companies like Shell Oil really need to give their eyes a rub and see that a world with serious constraints on greenhouse gas emissions is not a possible future, but an eventual reality.

Right now, oil companies are investing billions in long term plays in very carbon intensive fuels, like Canada's oil sands, while at the same time there are more and more signs that strict regulations on such operations are on the near horizon.

You don't need to look much further than...

read more