Kai Nagata on Quebec City and the ominous trajectory of Rebel Media's Ezra Levant
The suburban hotel ballroom was packed with more than 400 conservative activists, college students and curious reporters. On stage, a bespectacled Calgarian was railing against what he called the “fascist theocracy” of militant Islam. This was in Sainte-Foy, Que., but the crowd didn’t seem to mind that he was speaking English. They laughed, cheered and applauded throughout his speech.
That’s how I first met Ezra Levant. It was October 2010 and I was covering the launch of Réseau Liberté-Québec for CTV. The “Quebec Freedom Network,” which claimed inspiration from the U.S. Tea Party movement, aimed to boost right-wing politics in a province traditionally dominated by the debate between sovereignty and federalism.
Levant was still months away from launching his show on Sun News Network, which preceded his current project, TheRebel.media. Back in 2010, Stephen Harper was the leader of a minority government. Donald Trump was still hosting The Apprentice on NBC. Just down the road from the hotel in Sainte-Foy, it would be another six years before the boom of rifle fire cut short the evening prayer at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec.
A terrible mistake
I lived in Montreal and Quebec City from 2007 to 2011 as controversy deepened over “reasonable accommodation,” then “religious symbols” – both polite ways of talking about Islam. I watched columnist Richard Martineau wear a burqa on television and listened as talk radio hosts whipped up fears around honour killings, sharia law and terrorism.
Last month when news of a mass shooting at a mosque splashed across my TV, I felt horrified – but not entirely surprised. As it turned out, police arrested a young man named Alexandre Bissonnette whom former classmates described as a pro-Trump, anti-immigrant Internet troll.
But police also arrested a Laval University student of Moroccan descent, who later told reporters he had been shoveling snow outside the mosque when the attack began. Released in the morning, police took pains to stress that Mohamed Belkhadir was a witness, not a suspect – but it was too late.
Read the rest of the story at >> http://www.nationalobserver.com/2017/02/22/opinion/kai-nagata-quebec-cit...