Elec­tion com­mis­sioner rep­ri­mands Rebel Me­dia over bill­board

PressReader - BRUCE_CAROL_ROWE Channel - Elec­tion com­mis­sioner rep­ri­mands Rebel Me­dia over bill­board
ED­MON­TON Al­berta’s elec­tion com­mis­sioner is con­sid­er­ing a $5,500 fine against Rebel Me­dia for vi­o­lat­ing rules set out for third-party ad­ver­tis­ers, a move Rebel founder Ezra Le­vant de­scribes as “thug­gish be­hav­iour.”Elec­tion com­mis­sioner Lorne Gib­son also re­cently fined the Cana­dian Tax­pay­ers Fed­er­a­tion $6,000 for fail­ing to ap­ply for reg­is­tra­tion as a third-party ad­ver­tiser. The de­tails of that in­ves­ti­ga­tion haven’t been re­leased be­yond a line item as an ad­min­is­tra­tive penalty on the com­mis­sioner’s web­site.Le­vant, who tweeted about the com­mis­sioner’s de­ci­sion Fri­day, slammed the prov­ince for what he char­ac­ter­ized as cen­sor­ship. The Rebel posted the com­mis­sioner’s let­ter and its lawyer’s re­sponse on­line.Gib­son’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­lated to a bill­board put up near In­n­is­fail on the Queen El­iz­a­beth II High­way, with the mes­sage: “40% of Grade 9 stu­dents failed pro­vin­cial ex­ams — Al­berta can do bet­ter than David Eggen. www.fireeggen.ca.”In a let­ter ad­dressed to Le­vant and Rebel re­porter Keean Be­exte, Gib­son said the or­ga­ni­za­tion en­gaged in po­lit­i­cal ad­ver­tis­ing be­cause the ad op­posed a mem­ber of the Leg­isla­tive As­sem­bly.Rebel Me­dia in­curred $2,370 in costs for the bill­board, which was up from Nov. 23 to Nov. 30, said the let­ter.Gib­son said the com­pany is re­quired to regis­ter as a third-party ad­ver­tiser for billing it­self as “a fear­less source of news, opin­ion and ac­tivism,” pur­chas­ing ad space and host­ing an on­line cam­paign tar­get­ing Eggen.The elec­tions com­mis­sioner is an in­de­pen­dent, non-par­ti­san of­fi­cer tasked with in­ves­ti­gat­ing and en­forc­ing po­lit­i­cal fundrais­ing and ad­ver­tis­ing rules. The po­si­tion was cre­ated in 2017 and Gib­son was sworn last Oct. 26.Rebel Me­dia out­lined its re­sponse to the penalty on­line un­der the head­line “HELP: Rachel Not­ley is com­ing to kill The Rebel!”“It’s thug­gish be­hav­iour for politi­cians to cen­sor the me­dia,” Le­vant tweeted Fri­day.He also said the gov­ern­ment “has con­victed us of an of­fence with­out show­ing us the com­plaint or per­mit­ting us a re­ply.“The first fine is $5,500, climb­ing to $100,000,” he tweeted. “That would bank­rupt us.”In a let­ter ad­dressed to Gib­son Fri­day, Rebel Me­dia’s lawyer Fred Kozak said the or­ga­ni­za­tion wasn’t given a rea­son­able amount of time to re­spond to the al­le­ga­tions. The let­ter, shared by the or­ga­ni­za­tion on­line, said that The Rebel is fil­ing an ap­peal to the Court of Queen’s Bench. Kozak’s firm, Reynolds, Mirth, Richards & Farmer, rou­tinely rep­re­sents many me­dia out­lets, in­clud­ing Post­media.“It’s an unusual pol­icy or pro­ce­dure to say that in­for­ma­tion (the com­mis­sioner) has led him to the be­lief that the $5,500 fine is war­ranted,” said Kozak in an in­ter­view Fri­day. “We don’t know what that in­for­ma­tion is. He hasn’t pro­vided it to us so it’s dif­fi­cult for us to re­fute any of that.”He also said he can’t com­ment on the specifics of why Rebel Me­dia doesn’t be­lieve it vi­o­lated po­lit­i­cal ad­ver­tis­ing rules.“Those de­tails will emerge in the ap­peal,” he said."(Rebel Me­dia) has cer­tainly never been shy about con­tro­versy or about ex­press­ing their ed­i­to­rial views in strong terms.“Whether or not you agree with those views, stim­u­lat­ing some pub­lic de­bate on im­por­tant is­sues should be en­cour­aged rather than pun­ished.”Nei­ther Rebel Me­dia nor the Cana­dian Tax­pay­ers Fed­er­a­tion re­sponded to a re­quest for com­ment by Post­media on Fri­day.

© PressReader. All rights reserved.