The Rebel Media is a web-based media organization and promoter of far-right extremism in Canada and internationally, and an avid supporter of a fossil-fuel-based economy.
Since its inauguration by media personality Ezra Levant in 2015, the Rebel has grown domestically and internationally, now employing foreign correspondents and boasting over 900,000 followers on YouTube—putting it on our list as one of the top legitimators of carbon capitalism in Canada.
Head office: Toronto, Ontario
Revenue (total of crowdfunded donations): C$2.2 million (2017–2018)15
The Rebel is a private company, incorporated by Levant in 2015.1 It relies on crowdfunding to raise revenue, meaning that it depends on personal donations and subscriptions to its online content to operate.2
The Rebel supports the ideological position of its founder, Ezra Levant, in its response to Canada’s fossil fuel industry. Levant’s 2010 book, Ethical Oil, argues that imported oil carries the moral weight of the lagging environmental and human rights standards of its producer countries, meaning that Canadian oil should be marketed as an “ethical” alternative.3 This argument has been widely debunked given it fails to acknowledge the social, environmental and climate impacts of Canadian fossil fuels.4
Levant’s newest book, Groundswell, attempts to legitimate hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in much the same way as Ethical Oil did the oil sands, despite a volume of evidence linking fracking to increased risks of earthquakes and extreme water use, as well as methane emissions which may cause fracked natural gas to have the climate impact of coal energy.5 The Rebel promotes Groundswell alongside commentary on fracking in Canada and abroad, including commentary that characterizes opposition to fracking as ‘eco-terrorism’.6
Another approach used by the Rebel to prop up the oil and gas industry is to publish opinions and pseudo-science that question the severity of climate change—a continuation of hard-line climate denial that disputes the vast weight of scientific evidence. The organization employs a variety of tactics to challenge the consensus of climate science, from editorials describing how the world was “deceived” about climate science 7 to video reports showing delegates at the UN Climate Change Conference relying on fossil fuels.8
The Rebel does not shy away from controversy. In fact, its sensationalist approach to media engagement appears to thrive on it. As the website states, “Through a mix of online engagement, commenting, advocacy, and events, we don’t just report the news, we participate in it.”9
Environment Minister Catherine McKenna has been a target of the organization since 2016 for her role in advancing climate policies, with the Rebel giving her the derogatory nickname “Climate Barbie.”10 McKenna has publicly stated her dislike for the name, suggesting that the Rebel’s reporting was tantamount to discriminatory name-calling based on her gender and appearance.11 The Rebel continues to use the “Climate Barbie” moniker to describe McKenna.12
In early 2017, various Rebel personalities travelled to Israel to report on the “truth” not presented by the mainstream media. The trip resulted in numerous anti-Semitic publications on the Rebel site, including some by then Rebel personality Gavin McInnes that expressed skepticism about the atrocities of the Holocaust.13 Following the trip, various publications condemned the Rebel for inciting hate, and McInnes has since parted ways with the Rebel. Nevertheless, a return trip to Israel was planned for 2018. Fans of the site were invited to join the “fact-finding,” Rebel-funding mission, hosted by Levant himself.14
There is insufficient publicly available information to create a map for this case study.
The intent of the Corporate Mapping Project database is to engage Canadians in a conversation about the role of the fossil fuel sector in our democracy, by “mapping” how power and influence play out in the oil, gas and coal industries of BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Robert W. Howarth, “Methane Emissions and Climatic Warming Risk from Hydraulic Fracturing and Shale Gas Development: Implications for Policy,” Energy and Emission Control Technologies 3 (October 8, 2015): 45–54, https://doi.org/10.2147/EECT.S61539.