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The government censors take aim at The Rebel
#LSN_Opinion The Rebel
TORONTO, ONTARIO - January 18, 2019 (LSN) Rachel Notley and the NDP government of Alberta have finally made their move against The Rebel. They are prosecuting us for what we have said about them.
They're using an enforcer, Melanie Malchuk, who used to work for the Alberta Human Rights Commission, the censors who prosecuted Ezra years ago for publishing the Danish cartoons of Mohammed. They have given her a special contract to lead the investigation against us.
Notley wants to shut down The Rebel before the 2019 election — she knows The Rebel has been their most effective critics, and the NDP will do anything to silence us.
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Notley's pre-emptive legal attack on The Rebel.
On January 14, 2019, the Government of Alberta put The Rebel on trial — but they didn’t tell us. They convicted us in our absence. And even then, they still didn’t tell us, but this hired gun of theirs, Melanie Malchuk, started contacting our vendors, interfering in our contracts with those businesses, and threatening to come after those businesses if they didn’t comply.
We didn’t even learn about this from the government — we had to hear it from the Alberta businesses who were threatened. We still actually don’t know the details of any complaints against us. We weren’t there when we were convicted, we weren’t invited. It has all been done in secret. Just like the human rights commission attacks. Here’s some background.
The day after we were convicted we finally received an e-mail from the government of Alberta telling us we had been convicted in absentia of being a political campaign organization, not journalists. They proposed to fine us $5,500 (Click here to read the surprising letter telling us we were tried, convicted and fined $5,500.) because our criticisms of Rachel Notley are illegal, because they’re not journalistic views, they claim, but rather they are political campaign views and have to be treated as campaign spending.
We publish our journalism in every medium -- online, in video format, in radio ads, on lawn signs, on billboards, in best-selling books, and even in documentaries. Notley is saying that makes us a campaign organization, not journalists. We disagree, and we refuse to let her silence us.
The financial penalties they've convicted us for.
A $5,500 fine in itself won’t bankrupt us. But of course, we’re not going to stop our journalism. And the penalties for companies can be $100,000 a pop. $5,500 is just their first sucker-punch.
We can’t survive a $100,000 fine. And Notley could fine us every single month. We’d be out of business before the election. Which is exactly their goal.
In fact, they have extreme powers — they could actually get a court injunction to shut us down. For all we know, they’re taking that step already — and keeping it secret from us, again.
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Our legal fight so far.
Back in 2017, The Rebel received a threat letter from Notley’s election boss, telling us we were an illegal campaign group. Our lawyer wrote back, explaining the law to Notley’s staff — pointing out that we were journalists and therefore exempt under the law. And we didn’t hear back from Notley again.
Until right before Christmas. When we received a letter from Notley’s new campaign enforcer, saying our criticism of Notley’s education minister, David Eggen, was illegal, because it was on a billboard, and that we had 14 days to reply. So they sent it to us right before Christmas and demanded a reply on New Year’s Eve bizarrely — as if any bureaucrats were working then.
We hired the most respected media lawyer in Alberta, Fred Kozak. He has represented everyone from the Globe and Mail to the Edmonton Journal to CTV and even the CBC. He wrote back to Notley’s staff asking if he could reply after Christmas, and Notley’s people were reasonable and agreed.
And then in the new year, Kozak politely asked for more information about the complaint against us — what exactly did they claim we were doing wrong? Notley’s people wrote back saying, no problem, they’d get back to us with that info on January 15th. Sounds reasonable. We didn’t make a fuss about any of this, because we knew we were legally fine.
But Notley’s staff lied — they never did get back to our lawyer on the 15th with any details. In fact, they convicted us and sentenced us on the 14th. We’re still waiting for details of the complaint. They went ahead with a secret trial without us.