A candidate for the leadership of the United Conservative Party is publicly denouncing Alberta-based Rebel Media following the events in Charlottesville, Va. over the weekend.
Rebel Media contributor Faith Goldy attended the rallies and provided commentary on social media of what she saw occurring.
“There has been a rising in, I think, white racial consciousness after decades of identity politics which underscored non-white identities,” she said at one point during her broadcast.
“I think a lot of white men specifically, this seems to be their struggle.”
After viewing the coverage, Doug Schweitzer felt he needed to speak out, taking to Twitter to disavow the website.
“They were offering soft support to the white nationalists, otherwise known as the white supremacist movement, and that’s just not good enough,” he told Global News Monday afternoon.
“Conservatives have, quite often, been playing footsie with Rebel Media, and no longer can we be doing that.”
Schweitzer also called on his fellow leadership rivals to publicly call out the website.
At a campaign stop in Calgary, Brian Jean spoke out against racism, saying there is no place for it in his life or his party, but stopped short of disavowing Rebel.
“I have not seen that from that news organization,” he said when asked specifically if Rebel Media promotes bigotry and hatred.
The political pushback did prompt a response from Rebel founder Ezra Levant.
“Simply covering controversial figures doesn’t mean we agree with those controversial figures,” Levant wrote in a memo to staff.
He proceeded to describe how the so-called alt-right has shifted to something more racially motivated and he denounced the use of Nazi symbols and chants by the protesters.
“Sorry, that’s not conservative; that’s just racist. I think it’s unpatriotic to mimic one of America’s greatest historical enemies.”
Levant also appeared on 630 CHED’s The Ryan Jespersen Show on Monday. He denied that the Rebel is a forum for neo-Nazis.
He said he is a proud Jew and very pro-Israel. He said the Rebel staff represents a variety of racial and religious backgrounds, including Muslim and black presenters.
“To call a Jew a neo-Nazi, to call blacks neo-Nazis is so gross,” Levant said.
Also Monday, Rebel Media co-founder Brian Lilley announced he had parted ways with the group, concerned with its increasingly harsh tone on issues like immigration and Islam.
“There are ways to disagree on policy without resorting to ‘us versus them’ rhetoric,” he wrote on Facebook. “What The Rebel suffers from is a lack of editorial and behavioural judgment that left unchecked will destroy it and those around it.”
Lilley said he made his decision following the weekend’s events in Charlottesville, Va.
“What anyone from The Rebel was doing at a so-called ‘unite the right’ rally that was really an anti-Semitic white power rally is beyond me,” he said. “The uncomfortable dance that I have been doing for some time now must come to an end.”
However, Lilley added that he did not think that Ezra Levant, or anyone else at the Rebel, is racist or a white supremacist.
LISTEN: Doug Schweitzer and Ezra Levant appeared on 630 CHED’s The Ryan Jespersen Show.
With files from Eileen Bell, 630 CHED.
© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.