Ezra Levant is accusing Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre of favouring “Sharia” oil by saying “No” to the so-called "ethical oil" of Canada.
Mr. Levant, a Canadian media personality and conservative activist, appears to be frustrated that all 82 mayors from the Montreal Metropolitan Community said in January that they were opposed to the Energy East pipeline project proposed by Calgary-based TransCanada Corp. So he has decided that the best way to criticize his opponents is by associating them with Sharia law - the legal system that is based on Islam.
Furthermore, since “Outfront Media” - an ad agency - refused to display his questionable ad, Mr. Levant is now flaunting his imaginary theories with panels on a truck that features a picture of the monarch of Saudi Arabia, King Salmane Ben Abdelaziz al Saoud.
Mr. Levant also insinuates that the mayor's office is putting pressure on the media not to publish his pitch; in effect, he alludes to subtle censorship. Since Mr. Levant's ideas do not appear to be based on any real evidence, could it be that the ad agencies themselves are uneasy about participating in a campaign to broadcast blatant falsehoods?
Mr. Levant should remember that Mayor Coderre and his 81 colleagues in the Montreal Urban Community aren't the only ones rejecting new pipeline projects that would support growth in Canada's carbon-intensive oilsands industry - the country's fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions. Many First Nations communities, Mayor Gregor Robertson of Vancouver, and his fellow mayors also oppose Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, claiming that the financial returns are not worth the risks of pollution along with the economic and environmental consequences of a spill.
Why isn't Mr. Levant irate with these elected officials? In the name of fairness, shouldn't he campaign equally against the officials of Greater Vancouver?
Mr. Levant's enthusiastic promotion of Energy East notwithstanding, the mayors of the Greater Montreal area have a responsibility to protect the water supply from a possible oil spill upstream from its water intakes.
In July, the city of Prince Albert in Saskatchewan felt the effects of a drinking water advisory caused by a leaky pipeline that spilled oil into the North Saskatchewan River. In Montreal, it's not just 35,000 citizens that would be affected, but nearly four million; and there is no alternate supply of water as in Prince Albert, where they have just built a 30 kilometre temporary water pipeline from the South Saskathewan River. Since TransCanada declined to answer the legitimate questions at hearings held by the Montreal Metropolitan Community, the elected officials have a moral duty to look after the vital needs of their citizens.
But there is an major flaw in Mr Levant's argument. He associates our “sharia” petroleum with the photo of the King of Saudi Arabia. But according to Statistics Canada, la Belle Province doesn't import a single drop of Saudi oil!
The most important source of crude for Quebec's refineries is the USA; they supply 55 per cent of the oil used in our two refineries. In order to be anywhere close to the truth, shouldn't the picture on his truck be that of the American president?
Since Mr. Levant objects to dealing with Saudi Arabia on moral grounds, it is interesting that his media organization did not mount a similar vigorous opposition to Canada's sale of 900 armoured vehicles to that country. The possible use of these weapons to oppress the citizens of Saudi Arabia and Yemen do not seem to be part of his ethical nightmare. And in the light of the fact that he doesn't strenuously oppose the sale of these weapons, his anti-Coderre propaganda looks a lot like Quebec Bashing.
True, our country's freedom of expression gives Mr. Levant the right to express his ideas, even if these are only remotely connected to reality -- despite the fact that Quebec doesn't buy one drop of Saudi oil, he uses the photo of the king of Saudi Arabia as a symbol of “tainted” oil. Fortunately, the same freedom of expression gives us not only the right, but also the duty to set the record straight.
If Mr. Levant has arguments based on facts to back the construction of Energy East, let's have them; I have rock-solid arguments against this pipeline. A genuine dialogue can only be built on respect for the facts. Burying one’s head in the sand by denying scientific evidence can only lead to catastrophe. On the other hand, if I were to suggest what he should do with his less than factual ideas, genuine censorship would prevent publication.
We have witnessed Donald Trump's rants in the United States recently. Do we need Mr. Levant's Trumpisms here in Canada?