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August 28 update: Rebel News announced yesterday that it was the Alberta Speaker of the House who gave their two reporters access to the Alberta legislature press gallery, bypassing the reporter run press gallery in the decision. Rebel News was informed of the decision by the Alberta Sergeant-at-Arms.
EDMONTON, Alberta, August 27, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Conservative Canadian media outlet Rebel News declared a victory Wednesday in fighting one of Canada’s largest news chains, who they say was responsible for preventing two of their reporters from becoming members of the Alberta Legislature press gallery.
Rebel News reporter Keean Bexte announced on Twitter yesterday that they are now accredited with the Alberta press gallery.
“Finally, after a long battle, @SheilaGunnReid and I are officially accredited reporters at our first Canadian legislature: Alberta. The Press Gallery's monopoly has been busted and a new day is dawning in Canadian media! Full story soon,” wrote Bexte on Twitter.
In a Rebel News report from August 14, editor Ezra Levant declared victory in lifting the press gallery ban against them.
“Today is a day of celebration — a group of censors had their bullying blow up in their face,” wrote Levant.
The August 14 report claims that in late July, Postmedia employee Tyler Dawson sent Rebel News an email notifying them that they had barred their reporters Sheila Gunn Reid and Keean Bexte from joining the Alberta press gallery.
“I'm writing to inform you that the gallery has voted to reject the applications of Sheila Gunn Reid and Keean Bexte of the Rebel News Network Ltd. for membership to the Alberta Press Gallery Association,” wrote Dawson.
Dawson had just been elected as president of the Alberta Legislature Press Gallery Association (ALPGA), and his letter to Rebel News gave no reason as to why their reporters' applications to the gallery were not accepted.
Rebel News was not happy with his letter.
“No explanation. No appeal. We weren’t invited to the secret witch trial. They just banned us,” reported Rebel News.
“It’s bizarre that our right to send journalists to the Legislature depends on the permission of a snobby little club of obscure, left-wing reporters called the Alberta Legislature Press Gallery. But for reasons that no-one can remember, they’re in charge of granting security passes to the Legislature.”
The Rebel News report says that for some time, they applied to have their reporters obtain accreditation for the Alberta Press gallery, but were not successful until this Wednesday.
As a result of not being allowed press gallery membership before, Rebel News had their lawyer send Dawson a letter threatening Postmedia legal action under The Competition Act.
“The ALPGA is a Postmedia-dominated trade association. Postmedia benefits from a dominant position in Alberta’s media landscape — Postmedia owns Alberta’s largest daily newspapers (in Calgary, the Calgary Herald and the Calgary Sun) (in Edmonton, the Edmonton Journal and the Edmonton Sun), and has no significant rivals in either city,” reads the legal letter from Rebel News.
“The ALPGA’s denial of membership to Rebel News serves to demonstrate the anti-competitive nature and practices of Postmedia and the ALPGA, and in particular, their efforts to prevent/lessen competition in Alberta’s media landscape.”
In summary, the Rebel News legal letter says they are “seeking an immediate reversal of the Denial by the ALPGA, failing which, we have instructions to commence formal proceedings against Postmedia pursuant to the Competition Act, R.S.C., 1985, c. C-34, which regulates anti-competitive business practices in Canada.”
Rebel News also had their lawyer send a letter to the Speaker of the Alberta Legislature, demanding that the “Independent Press Gallery of Canada be given the same recognition and standing as the Press Gallery in Alberta.”
The Independent Press Gallery of Canada is a “not-for-profit organization dedicated to independent, non-governmental journalist organisations” and was recently formed and is run by Candace Malcolm of True North News.
Last Friday, Postmedia published a commentary that appears to defend Rebel News and offer a defense of the freedom of the press, despite the fact it was one of their reporters, Dawson, who notified them of their ban.
The Post commentary refers to the 2016 Boyd report, which came about as a result of the former Alberta NDP government failing to recognize Rebel News as a legitimate news site.
“Media organizations and individuals should not be denied accreditation strictly on the basis of their point of view,” states the report which was authored by retired journalist Heather Boyd.
The Postmedia commentary states that until the ALPGA takes freedom of the press seriously as per the report, they will “withdraw its reporters from the gallery, effective immediately.”
“This step was made necessary by the gallery’s recent decision to hold a vote denying official accreditation to, yet again, the Rebel. (Unlike Ottawa’s press gallery, where such decisions are made by a board, Alberta’s group lets majority vote rule.) Let us be clear: we do not seek to defend the Rebel. Its own work makes the case against its dubious standards better than we could, and its frequent personal attacks on other journalists are not just disgraceful but dangerous,” reads the National Post commentary.
However, Rebel News says the Post media letter “disavows” their own reporter’s email which banned Rebel News, noting their opinion piece makes no mention of the email from Dawson, nor the legal letter from Rebel’s lawyer.
“So last night, faced with a massive boycott and a Competition Bureau lawsuit, they blinked,” says the Rebel News report.
“Not only did Postmedia disavow their own letter banning us, they actually ordered all of their own reporters to quit the Alberta Press Gallery themselves! And — even more delicious — they ordered their sullen reporters to just shut up about it, and to stop promoting censorship!”
In addition to the letter, Rebel News launched a campaign to their readership base called, “CancelThePost.com.”
According to Rebel News, “hundreds” canceled their National Post subscriptions due to the campaign.
Rebel News says it is “ironic” that the National Post tried to ban them from the gallery only to have their higher-ups ban their reporters.
“What irony: left-wing reporters at the National Post tried to ban us from the press gallery, and gag us. But now they’re banned from it and they’re gagged — by their own company!” said Rebel News.
“The National Post embarrassed itself, it lost a lot of money, and it had to admit that it’s wrong. Those are hard things to do — and they didn’t do them very gracefully. You can read their angry editorial here — they condemn censorship, but they don’t actually tell their readers their own central role in the censorship fiasco. They call us a dozen names and insults — but then criticize us for being mean to other journalists.”
Rebel News has also launched a fundraiser to help them “fight Postmedia censorship” with the goal being to raise $40,000. To date, they have raised just over $9,000.