You have to give Ezra Levant full marks for chutzpah. A week or so ago he met a hundred Idle No More protestors at the door of the Toronto Sun.
It was an interesting scene. The Sun had taken down its big logo from the front of its offices and police stood at the entrance. But there was Ezra, waiting, microphone in hand, and camera man at the ready.
He didn’t flinch when people began to chant, “Ezra, Ezra, you can’t hide, we can see your racist side.” He even managed to engage a couple of demonstrators in discussion. And no one could answer his question, “What have I said, exactly, that was racist?”
That’s probably because he hasn’t said anything that could be nailed down as racist. It’s the atmosphere that he and others in the public pulpit create. Like calling the Idle No More demonstrations terrorist acts or, if not quite terrorism, then certainly criminal for their trespass and mischief. Or, that if First Nations meet with the Governor General, it will break up the country (as Tom Flanagan wrote in the Globe & Mail).
There is some danger in creating a climate of intolerance. It tends to give permission for the violent among us to put words into action – something the Ipperwash Inquiry noted in their report on who and what killed Dudley George.
Neither hurling around the ‘R’ word nor criminalizing dissent will reconcile us. It hasn’t yet and it’s been 22 years since Oka, 17 years since Ipperwash, 12 since Burnt Church and Calendonia keeps going…and going…and going.
The confrontation between Ezra and Idle No More was a sad reminder that our dialogue with First Nations people really hasn’t got much further than an exchange of insults.