The Alberta government called on the two front-runners competing to lead the province’s newly united right-wing on Wednesday to renounce The Rebel and explain their association with the far-right media outlet.
NDP house leader Brian Mason called a news conference at the legislature to roundly denounce The Rebel and those who refuse to stand up against the political views the media outlet holds.
“The concern which I have is that both of the leading contenders for UCP leadership, as well as members of the caucus, have associated themselves with Rebel media,” Mason said. “To me, that’s totally unacceptable.
“It’s pretty clear where Rebel media stands, and its pretty clear that Brian Jean and Jason Kenny are standing with them.”
Mason said Canadians expect their politicians to renounce racism and violence.
“I think Albertans deserve better,” he said. “We need leaders that clearly know the difference between right and wrong.
“Racism and white supremacy is wrong.”
Rachel Notley’s government banned correspondents from The Rebel from the Alberta legislature press gallery in February and said at the time “they are not journalists.”
A week later, in an abrupt about-face, the government said it would not ban any media outlets from news conferences while a review of policies was underway.
The Rebel has come under intense fire since last weekend’s rally of white nationalists in Charlottesville, Va., culminated in violence and an attack on counter-demonstrators that left one woman dead and several others injured.
On Tuesday, one of the site’s co-founders and two of its contributors quit over The Rebel’s coverage of the Charlottesville protests.
Co-founder Brian Lilley said he was no longer comfortable working with an organization increasingly linked with the alt-right, the name most commonly used to represent the white nationalist movement in the U.S. involved in the incidents in Virginia over the weekend.
National Post columnists Barbara Kay and John Robson also stepped away.
Conservative activist Ezra Levant, founder of the website, published an all-staff memo Tuesday denying that The Rebel is part of the alt-right movement.
He said the outlet is considered a trusted source for conservatives, and that covering the alt-right is not the same as being alt-right.
“It’s important that our viewers know that the alt-right is not actually conservative,” Levant said in an email to The Canadian Press. “They are socialist; they are communalist; they reject individual autonomy and subordinate everything to genetics.
“And most importantly, they are a false flag, by which leftist media can demonize all conservatives and pretend that white supremacists are the leading problem in America, rather than a tiny fringe.”
Newly minted federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said this week he won’t grant further interviews to Rebel Media if the outlet’s editorial direction remains unchanged.