A statement from the Conservative Party distancing itself from the controversial alt-right Rebel Media has been shown to Andrew Scheer, the party’s leader, but has yet to be released.
It’s not clear whether Scheer, who has been interviewed by the controversial opinion site on four different occasions, is uncomfortable with the move, or whether the announcement is merely delayed.
One spokesperson, in Scheer’s office, said on Monday that a statement had been drafted that would make the party’s position clear, and was merely awaiting sign-off from Scheer himself.
But 24 hours later, after a raft of defections from The Rebel and amid growing calls for political leaders to name and shame the growing influence of alt-right and white supremacist figures, no statement has been released.
A spokesperson in Scheer’s office would not comment or provide detail about when the party would release a statement, the cause for the delay, or where Scheer stood on the issue.
Update — August 17, 12:55pm:
CBC released a video on Thursday, recorded Wednesday evening (after VICE News published its story), where Scheer offered a couched statement regarding the Rebel without referencing it by name. “I think there is a fine line between reporting the facts and giving some of those groups a platform or any kind of legitimacy,” Scheer told reporters. He continued: “So as long as the editorial direction of that particular institution remains as it is … I won’t be granting those types of interviews.”
Scheer, as well as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, all tweeted condemnation for the racism and violence that was on display in Charlottesville.
But Scheer is the only leader to appear on The Rebel — if he were to distance himself from The Rebel, it would likely cut his ties to an outlet that has given him ample airtime.
Last November, Scheer sat down with Ezra Levant to talk immigration; then again with host Faith Goldy in February to talk about his opposition to a motion condemning Islamophobia; with Alberta correspondent Sheila Gunn Reid in August; and finally with former correspondent Brian Lilley immediately after winning his bid for the leadership in May.
During his bid for party leader, Scheer’s campaign manager, Hamish Marshall — who has since gone back into private practise — sits on the board of directors for The Rebel, primarily working on digital strategy for the alt-right site.
Recently, however, The Rebel has gone after Scheer for supporting the Paris climate accord and for calling
himself a feminist.
Other parts of Scheer’s policies, however — opposing a House of Commons motion condemning Islamophobia, pulling government funding for universities that do not do enough to foster free speech, repealing the federal carbon pricing system — all proved popular with the network.
On Monday, Conservative Party moderate and former leadership candidate Michael Chong announced he would boycott the channel, as its “editorial direction includes the promotion of anti-Semitism, white supremacy, and calling for a democratically-elected premier to be locked up,” according to a statement sent to
, a left-wing blog.