Rebel News’ Ezra Levant appears in court to appeal fine over marketing for anti-Trudeau book

"Never before has a Canadian author been investigated, interrogated and fined for a political book."

Rebel News' Ezra Levant found himself in court yet again on Thursday, this time defending freedom of speech after the federal government targeted him over a book he wrote prior to the 2019 election that was critical of Justin Trudeau.

The Libranos, which was published just days before the campaign kicked off, dove into allegations of corruption in the Liberal Party, and featured a cover image of the prime minister and his cabinet in the style of the Sopranos.

During the election period, Levant and Rebel News distributed lawn signs promoting the book. Elections Canada alleged that the signs amounted to "third party election advertising," and argued that since the media company had not registered as such, it was in violation of official policies. 

Levant countered that claim by stating, "It's not a political campaign plan; it's a journalistic campaign plan. Our competitors aren't the Liberals. Our competitors are the Media Party."

He highlighted the fact that numerous other books about Trudeau were published around the same time and had gone unpunished, however Elections Canada said his book was different because there was reason to believe it would not have been released had a contest not been called.

A July 2021 review by Elections Canada Commissioner Yves Côté determined that Levant and Rebel News had violated the Act by failing to include a message of authorization on the lawn signs, and failing to register as a third party. Côté ordered Levant to pay a $3,000 fine, however he refused, and the matter was then taken to court.

"For the next eight hours I will be on trial for writing a book called The Libranos," Levant posted on X from the Federal Court of Canada in Toronto on Thursday.

"There is an army of lawyers here from the Trudeau government. If they win, they will set a terrible precedent, making it illegal to publish books critical of politicians without first 'registering' those books with the government."

Government lawyers argued that authors should disclose their publishing plans with Elections Canada if they coincide with the campaign, a sentiment which Levant said the judge appeared to support.

After hearing arguments from both sides, the court room was adjourned, and the judge said she would return her verdict after "some time."

Levant told The Post Millennial, "I wrote a book criticizing Justin Trudeau and he weaponized Elections Canada to prosecute me for it. Never before has a Canadian author been investigated, interrogated and fined for a political book. I am sitting in a court right now with seven government lawyers and staff, and there were at least ten police and investigators who 'investigated' me. I estimate that the government has spent close to a million dollars hunting me.

"What is so disappointing is that not a single journalism organization has so much as issued a tweet in objection to my prosecution. And not one civil liberties organization has intervened in my hearing today.

"It's a sad statement of the state of liberty in Canada," he added. "First they made every gun owner register with the state. Now they're making conservative authors register with the state."

In a video posted in January of 2020, Levant revealed hidden camera footage he took of a meeting with police, in which they interrogated him about the book.

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