As It Happens

[UPDATED] Is the UN reconsidering decision to bar Ezra Levant's The Rebel from climate conference?

The UN's Nick Nuttall says he's "chewing over" the decision to deny Ezra Levant's The Rebel accreditation for next month's climate change conference.
Ezra Levant is shown at the University of Ottawa in Ottawa on Tuesday, March 23, 2010. (Pawel Dwulit/Canadian Press)
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Update Nov. 1, 2016: The UN has relented and is allowing Ezra Levant's The Rebel into COP22. With mounting pressure from Environment Canada and journalism advocacy groups, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change have now reversed their decision and are offering The Rebel press accreditation for the upcoming climate conference in Marrakesh.

Ezra Levant has asked Justin Trudeau for help.

The Liberal Prime Minister isn't the conservative gadfly's usual go-to guy. But, a UN agency has denied Levant's online outlet press passes for next month's big climate change conference in Marrakesh.

Levant has also posted an appeal on YouTube. 

As it Happens host Carol Off spoke with the UN's Nick Nuttall. Nuttall was involved in the decision to deny Rebel Media accreditation for next month's meeting. Here's an excerpt of their conversation: 

CAROL OFF: Mr. Nuttall, Ezra Levant says that you have rejected his application because you don't like Rebel Media's point of view. How do you respond?

NICK NUTTALL: We looked at Rebel Media and we just really weren't sure what it was. I mean, we weren't sure if it was a platform for this chap Ezra — I can't remember his last name now …

CO: Levant. Ezra Levant.

NN: Ok fine, yeah. I don't live in Canada, so I don't know. We get a lot of people who purport to be journalists and sometimes they're NGOs or civil societies or others with all kinds of different axes to grind and all kind of issues. We try and just make sure that we accredit what we consider to be journalists.  

I looked at Rebel Media's website and it seemed to me that this was a kind of website that was very much pushing a very particular point of view and therefore made me wonder how it was funded, who backs it, and what kind of purpose they were there to serve.- UN's Nick Nuttall

CO: On what grounds did you reject Mr. Levant and Rebel Media's application?

NN: I looked at Rebel Media's website and it seemed to me that this was a kind of website that was very much pushing a very particular point of view and therefore made me wonder how it was funded, who backs it, and what kind of purpose they were there to serve. Looking at some of the headlines on their website … there didn't seem to be much balance in the reporting. It seemed to be more kind of anti-refugee, anti-climate, anti-this, anti-that. And I just didn't feel that it was maybe appropriate in terms of better understanding climate change issues and giving balanced reporting to a general public.

Ezra Levant, shown March 2, 2016. (Canadian Press)
CO:
So it does seem that what Mr. Levant is saying is true — that you didn't like his point of view.

NN: No, not really. The point is he seems to be advocating a particular point of view which is so personal that it didn't seem to be a genuine media outlet to me.

CO: Do people have to prove that they're helpful in order to be accredited journalists?

NN: Well, what do you think journalism is about?

CO: Reporting.

NN: Reporting. Factually, accurately, honestly, trying to get the truth out of what actually is going on in this very complex world. And, from the little I saw, which were inflammatory headlines on issues that weren't even related to climate change ... It was a croc of something, or other. 

CO: He called it "climate change croc".

NN: Yeah, well what does that add to public understanding? What is journalism?

CO: Is it not possible, though, by rejecting his application that you have given his position even more publicity?

NN: That is one reason why I was slightly reluctant to do this interview with you … Many people have written to me that he's very adept at using this kind of thing to generate more money through crowd-funding to keep his website going. I hope that people who maybe listen to this interview will think twice.  

CO: Can he do anything to convince you otherwise to give him the accreditation?

NN: Well I have to say that two Canadian journalism associations have in fact written to me saying that we should rethink the situation. Now, when serious Canadian journalist associations actually write to me on that basis and are willing to stand by this individual and his website and what he covers, then now, I'm chewing that over. [These associations] have credibility, it would seem, and so I'm really thinking about it.

For more on this story, listen to our full interview with Nick Nuttall.

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