How Ezra Levant built an extreme media juggernaut — and watched it all begin to unravel

This is a story about a hypothetical made real. It’s a thought exercise — about limits and lines and what happens when those warp and disappear.

Picture this: a man careens through the fringes of public life. He chafes against boundaries. He sues and gets sued. He has talent and drive but lacks, something — a filter maybe, or just someone to tell him when enough’s enough. So he offends. He gets things wrong. He burns bridges and loses gigs. He never quite edges into the mainstream.

You’ve seen him, I’m sure, over the years, red-faced and quivering, his whole body twisting to a point. He jabs the air with practiced hands. He builds a rant from the bottom up, quietly, then not. Eventually, inevitably, he goes too far.

Now picture that man in a world where limits don’t exist, where there are no editors to spike his columns, or executives to demand he retract. A world where he can say what he wants, when he wants, to more people than he ever has before.

Given that chance, what would that man do? What would he say? How far would he go?


On Aug. 3 — nine days before a crisis plunged his empire into chaos — Ezra Levant bobbed in place before a green screen in his Toronto studio. He wore a dark blazer over a blue shirt and striped tie — the same outfit, more or less, that he’s worn his entire adult life. He addressed the camera directly. He spoke of three stories, from three countries that all, he told his audience, shared a common theme.

Levant has been ever present on the edges of conservative life in this country for more than 25 years. A Calgary native, he came of age with Preston Manning’s Reform Party. Before he was 30 years old, he had burst into and bombed out of mainstream politics. In the years since, he has woven a career between activism and media, forever preaching in both against liberals, environmentalists, and socialist hordes. But in recent years, especially since the founding of his far-right news site, The Rebel Media, he has been possessed of a more singular obsession.

The stories he presented that day did not seem at the outset to be connected. They included a synagogue construction permit in Australia, a video of British soldiers singing the Pakistani national anthem and a plan for a women’s only music festival in Sweden. “What do these stories have in common?” Levant asked his audience. “Well, the most obvious similarity is Islam.”

The synagogue couldn’t open, Levant claimed, because of Muslim terrorists. The soldiers were singing as a sop to a Muslim instructor. The music festival, well, that was just a feminist overreaction to a problem “not with all men,” Levant said, “not with most men” but with “Muslim migrants, who have turned Sweden into the rape capital of the world.”

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