Ezra Levant's Failed Bid to Change Canada - 2017-08-21
On September 15, 2010, a right-wing media star appeared on CBC radio to promote his new book extolling the wonders of Canada's oil industry. The show was styled as a debate between the author and a skeptical environmentalist. But more important than who won or lost was the fact that a hardcore conservative author had made it into the heart of the CBC's daily lineup.
The author was Ezra Levant. And the bestselling book under discussion was Ethical Oil: The Case for Canada's Oil Sands. It went on to pick up the $20,000 National Business Book Award, whose jury was chaired by the dean of the University of Toronto business school and included such talking heads as Peter Mansbridge and Pamela Wallin. The accolade was announced at a downtown Toronto luncheon hosted by two of Bay Street's bluest chips, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and Bank of Montreal. "We are very proud to be involved," gushed the head of BMO's human resources unit.
It was Ezra's high point. If ever he were going to cash out—get a cushy public affairs job, maybe with media stints as the resident conservative—this was the time. Instead, his career became one long series of rants, lawsuits, and festering grievances. Today, as Levant's radical right-wing website strains at the bolts amid mass defections and allegations of financial impropriety, it's easy to forget that, for a brief moment at the start of the decade, he was given a taste of mainstream respectability. He rejected it: a decision that serves as the baseline for everything that followed.