Toronto

Steve Bannon to debate populism on Toronto stage after being dropped by New Yorker

Steve Bannon, the controversial media figure and Donald Trump's former chief strategist, is coming to Toronto for a debate about populism — an announcement that's already drawing criticism online.

Invitation to former Donald Trump strategist already drawing criticism online

Steve Bannon is set to debate David Frum at a November Munk debate. The event was announced shortly after The New Yorker dumped Bannon from its annual festival after facing sharp backlash from readers and celebrities. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Steve Bannon, the controversial media figure and Donald Trump's former chief strategist, is coming to Toronto for a  debate about populism — an announcement that's already drawing criticism online.

This week, The New Yorker magazine scrapped its plan to have Bannon as a featured guest at its annual festival after facing sharp backlash from readers and celebrities. Within hours of making the announcement, New Yorker editor David Remnick decided to cancel the interview, saying he did not want Bannon to "propel further the ideas of white nationalism, racism, anti-Semitism and illiberalism."

Bannon is set to speak about "The Rise of Populism" at a Nov. 2 Munk Debate — an ongoing debate series held at Toronto's Roy Thomson Hall that draws some 3,000 people each time. The November debate, announced Wednesday, is also drawing criticism, with a number of people attacking its moderator and organizer, Rudyard Griffiths, of giving Bannon a platform to share his views.

Critics have attacked Bannon for stoking racial divisions and advocating for far-right ideas, both inside the White House and during his time heading the Breitbart News Network.

Bannon once described Breitbart as "the platform for the alt-right." But while admitting the website attracts racists, homophobes and anti-Semites, he has vowed he doesn't hold those views.

In Toronto, where "Diversity Our Strength," is the city's motto, Bannon is set to argue in favour of populism.

"I want to bring everything crashing down and destroy all of today's establishment," he is quoted as saying on the website promoting the debate.

David Frum, a former speechwriter for former U.S. president George W. Bush who is now a senior editor at The Atlantic and prominent Trump critic, is set to debate Bannon.

Frum tweeted Wednesday saying he's looking forward to the debate, which is being held just days before the U.S. midterm elections.

Griffiths has tweeted that the event is "not to be missed."

The Munk semi-annual debates, founded by the late Peter Munk and his wife, Melanie, tend to focus on polarizing topics and have been attended by a number of controversial guests since launching in 2008.

Tickets to the November debate are selling for between $40 and $100 each.

The last debate was on political correctness and featured Stephen Fry, the actor and writer, and Jordan Peterson, an academic whose views have won him a massive audience but also widespread criticism.

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