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The Rebel and its founder Ezra Levant are under investigation for releasing and promoting an anti-Liberal book during the federal election while “failing to register as a third party”, according to a letter from lawyers for Commissioner of Canada Elections Yves Cote.
“Rebel News contravened the (Canada Elections) Act…having incurred over $500 on elections advertising expenses,” writes commissioner lawyer Mylene Gigou in the December 9, 2019 missive.
“It is alleged that Rebel News engaged in election advertising in its production and distribution of ‘Libranos’ signs during the election period.”
Levant’s book, “The Libranos: What the media won’t tell you about Justin Trudeau’s corruption,” was released on October 10, 2019–eleven days before the general election–accompanied by an advertising strategy featuring lawn signs.
“I think it’s clever. I think it’s funny. But how is that different than a billboard or a newspaper ad, a web ad or an amazon ad?” Levant said of the marketing for his book.
“Is (the book) spicy? Yes. It’s a pretty short book, but nothing I haven’t said 10 times before. That this is being investigated shows how far things have gone.”
In an email to The Post Millennial, Cote’s spokesperson Myriam Croussette would not confirm the commissioner’s investigation of Rebel Media, nor who made the allegation against the media outlet.
Canada Elections Act defines “third party” as a group engaging in partisan activity, “that promotes or opposes a registered party or eligible party or the election of a potential candidate, nomination contestant, candidate or leader of a registered party.”
But the same act also exempts “transmission to the public of an editorial, a debate, a speech, an interview, a column, a letter, a commentary or news; the distribution of a book, or the promotion of the sale of a book.”
Gigou’s letter even references these definitions from section 349 of the Act, quoting the following portion and adding underlined emphasis on ‘if’ and ‘regardless’: “If the book was planned to be made available to the public regardless of whether there was to be an election,” she writes.
Levant told TPM that he would fight any attempt by the elections commissioner to prosecute or sanction Rebel Media.
“Here’s the thing. The law specifically exempts books. The law specifically says this doesn’t apply to books or the promotion of books. The investigator put that right in her letter,” said Levant.
“There’s nothing strange about what I’ve been doing. It’s a political book. It’s a critical book and books are specifically exempted under the law.”
“And even if they weren’t, I would ignore the law and challenge its constitutionality. We don’t ban books in Canada, even books that criticize the prime minister.”