Conservative Canadian broadcaster Ezra Levant is appealing to the public and his prime minister to intervene in a row with organisers of the upcoming United Nations climate conference.
Levant wanted to send three staff members from his “The Rebel” media company to the COP22 talks taking place next month in Marrakech, Morocco.
The Rebel had applied to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change for media accreditation but, according to screenshots shared by Levant, the UN has declined the application because “advocacy media outlets do not qualify for media accreditation.”
DeSmog can reveal that Levant’s crew intended to film other journalists at press conferences and outside the venue, in an apparent attempt to expose what Levant thinks is a hypocritical media.
At a Rebel event in Edmonton in September, U.S.-based climate science denialist Marc Morano, who would be an "honorary Rebel journalist" in Morocco, told an audience member he intends to “put on a disguise” at the conference.
Levant has appealed for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to intervene in the “ban” and has support from three Canadian journalism associations, which may not agree with Levant’s politics, but also don’t condone the UN’s decision. Levant has also started an online petition and had his lawyers send a legal letter to the UN.
The three journalists whose applications were declined are reportedly Rebel’s Alberta bureau chief Sheila Gunn Reid, producer Meaghan MacSween and cameraman Alex Jones.
But what was The Rebel going to do in Morocco? Was it there to report the proceedings, or something else?
In September, Levant’s The Rebel hosted a public screening of Marc Morano's climate science denial film “Climate Hustle” in Edmonton.
In audio recorded by a DeSmog researcher in attendance, Levant tells the audience that “we will be asking questions and turning the camera around to show the other journalists,” in an apparent attempt to ridicule reporters who he describes as “cheerleaders” for the UN.
During a Q&A session following the Climate Hustle screening, Levant says that Marc Morano will be an “honorary Rebel journalist” in Morocco. Morano is Communications Director of the US “think tank” Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, which has received funding from Exxon in the past. (Morano has received official credentials alongside CFACT colleagues for several UN climate conferences, including Paris, Lima and Warsaw.)
Answering questions later, Morano told one audience member that he would “put on a disguise” to avoid being recognised in Morocco.
"We're just going there to expose them … They're not gonna expect us to be there … They might recognize me, but … I'll put on a disguise," Morano says.
He also tells the audience member that "we could still film them and I could give a lot of questions for them to ask as well, so … there will be a lot of opportunities at this thing," although it is not clear if he is referring directly to Rebel staff.
Ezra Levant tells the audience in Edmonton: “[inaudible].. to show the contrast of how they say ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ while their limos idle outside. While they say ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ while dining in five-star restaurants.”
When answering questions, Rebel’s Gunn Reid referred to US science broadcaster Bill Nye as “Bill Nye the fascist science guy.”
Later, she told the audience: “These people who believe in global warming really seem like a doomsday cult and I think that’s what’s driving the urgency for them.”
“Eventually, after all the predictions fail, the people in the white pajamas waiting for the comet to come are going to figure out that the comet is never coming.”
DeSmog has asked the UNFCCC for a response to The Rebel's protest. DeSmog has also approached Marc Morano and Ezra Levant for comment.
In a legal letter sent to the UN, Rebel Media's lawyers write: "The denial of accreditation to representatives from The Rebel fundamentally denies not only The Rebel from following facts and opinions on the subject of climate change to be expressed, but it also denies the opportunity of Canadians and others to receive those views through the media."
Main image: Ezra Levant. Credit: Flickr/University of Saskatchewan CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
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