The Rebel and Canada’s Alt-Right

Around this time last year, when Trump winning the election seemed like an absurd possibility, many people made the brash claim that they were moving to Canada if he did ever win. Of course, when the results came in, most who said they would move had their bluffs called out and stayed put.

Most, but not all. And Canadians have certainly staked their claim as being the friendly Northern safe space, complete with free healthcare and a pretty prime minister. Cape Breton in Nova Scotia even advertised themselves as an option for Americans looking to flee Trump. American applications to my university, University of Toronto, increased by 70%. 

Most of us living here are probably aware that Canada isn’t exactly the paradise Americans make it out to be. We have the same legacy of colonialism as the US, had the same restrictive immigration quotas and internment camps and plenty of other examples of discrimination and oppression. And our present doesn’t look too bright either, with any number of examples from missing and murdered Indigenous women to racism right here in Toronto. Still, even with all that, it’s easy to think we’re at least a few steps up from the US. At least we don’t have the same wave of alt-right extremism, right? Wrong. And our own strain is getting harder and harder to ignore.

Enter The Rebel Media. A paradise for white-supremacists and Islamaphobes. Kind of like a maple-flavored Breitbart, with the same violent xenophobia and bigotry and lack of regard for journalistic standards, but their logo is red instead of orange. Also, they have some shady business practices, allegedly.

First, a brief history lesson for those who are unaware. The Rebel was co-founded in 2015 by Ezra Levant and Brian Lilley after working for several years as correspondents for the right-wing Sun News Network, which closed that same year. Since then, the Rebel has hired several well-known right-wing extremists in Canada and abroad.

The Rebel co-founder Brian Lilley

If you think I’m just some liberal snowflake/cultural Marxist/angry queer feminist/etc and I’m biased against The Rebel, I’d like to point out that Lilley, The Rebel’s own co-founder, said more or less the same thing after he left in August: “What The Rebel suffers from is a lack of editorial and behavioural judgment that left unchecked will destroy it and those around it. For that reason, I am leaving…I am not comfortable being associated with a group that…is being increasingly viewed as associated with the likes of Richard Spencer…I am also not comfortable with the increasingly harsh tone taken on issues like immigration, or Islam. There are ways to disagree on policy without resorting to us versus them rhetoric.” 

Lilley frames his criticism of his former company as if this is a new problem. But The Rebel has always been a haven for the bigots, and has never been one to shy away from promoting a story lacking evidence or truth in the name of their own viewpoint. In January, The Rebel feverishly promoted the conspiracy theory that the horrific shooting at a mosque in Quebec City was actually committed by Muslims (the current suspect, who has been charged with six counts of murder, is a white-supremacist) without any real evidence.

To be fair, following former contributer Faith Goldy’s coverage of the white supremacist rally in Charlottseville last month, in which she portrayed the white supremacists in the most sympathetic light possible, The Rebel promptly fired her. Additionally, following this, Levant reportedly issued a memo to staff asking them to distance themselves from the alt-right. 

Recently ousted Rebel contributor Faith Goldy

But quite frankly, it doesn’t really matter if The Rebel wants to avoid calling itself alt-right or even agrees to dismiss some of its more overtly racist contributors.

At the time of writing this article, The Rebel’s most recent stories included one about how Canada has a “border crisis” and is detaining Mexican nationals. The Rebel stated that Mexican refugee applicants to Canada has tripled since 2016, after tourist visa requirements for Mexicans entering Canada were lifted. Their posted source for this was one of their own articles from April. This article claimed that “Public servants warned…that a lot of these asylum seekers were fake refugees looking to exploit our system. Processing these fake claims also came at a very high cost to Canadian taxpayers.” Their source for that was yet another one of their own articles, where instead of providing any evidence that there were such fake refugees, this article featured a video of Lilley stating that this was true. The “public servant” in question was a Conservative commentator named Michelle Rempel, who didn’t actually say that, but rather raised the idea of Mexicans pretending to be refugees to gain Canadian benefits as a possibility. Besides, Rempel didn’t provide any sources to suggest that this was an issue, and I couldn’t find any data to suggest it was.

A classic pattern for The Rebel. Take the unproven suggestion of an issue and present it as a reality. Along the way, make sure to mention your support for the border wall down south (which one of the articles did), neglect to provide factual sources, and be sure to portray Mexicans as criminals, members of drug cartels, and bent on sneaking into Canada and pretending to be refugees and drain Canada.

Of course, it doesn’t matter to The Rebel if any of their stories are based in fact, so long as they promote a xenophobic agenda. Nor does it matter to their 848,851 subscribers on YouTube, or the thousands of Canadians who view their website every day. If Canada was free of the alt-right, The Rebel wouldn’t have a viewer base. Their existence is, say, the huge red sore on Canada. It’s a big problem, but without the disease of xenophobia, racism, Islamophobia, and bigotry lurking underneath, it wouldn’t exist in the first place.

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What I Wear To Work: Liem Vu, Global News’ The Morning Show

Photo Credit: Nick Pimenoff

Wardrobe Essentials

My wardrobe essentials are black shoes, black joggers, and a black t-shirt. See a theme there? No, I’m not trying to be your friendly neighbourhood fashion blogger with minimalist and monochromatic fashion. I’m the complete opposite, actually. I love loud patterns, bright shirts, and architectural jackets, but the only way to pull those off is to have a solid fashion anchor. By wearing black shoes and black pants, you can go super loud and outlandish on top without being too distracting or workplace inappropriate.

Favourite Item in Your Closet

Definitely my black and white Saturdays NYC button up (seen in the picture). The shirt is inspired by the glaze brush pattern often seen in ceramic work. It’s bold and brash yet minimalist at the same time. It’s easy to dress up (with a blazer) or down (with jeans) and that versatility is what I look for in all my shirts.

The Purge Rule

One for one. If you buy something new, get rid of something old. It’s a rule that I’m still trying to commit to. Everyone has a bad habit of holding on to things they don’t need. Unless it’s a staple like a blazer or jacket, it’s always best to consider whether or not an old item in your closet is worth holding on to.

Describe Your Work Uniform

Thankfully, The Morning Show really supports my outlandish fashion choices. Heck, I wore overalls on the show once. My daily work outfit usually starts with a pair of black golf joggers and then I pair them with a bold and bright short-sleeved button up shirt.

Liem Vu is a Toronto-based journalist and television personality. He can be seen weekdays on The Morning Show. Vu’s sense of curiosity and passion for storytelling bring him to the front lines of breaking news. Liem has written for both local and national publications including The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, and The National Post. In 2011, he produced and hosted a series of investigative features for MTV News, focusing on hot-button sociopolitical issues aimed at Canadian youth. 

Liem is an avid music fan, insatiable foodie, and all-around nerd. Prior to his career as a journalist, he moonlighted as the lead singer of a barbershop quartet called ‘The TemptAsians’ and has seen every episode of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer at least twice.

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Sets You Don’t Want to Miss at Osheaga 2017

Osheaga never fails to impress. Once again its lineup has every other music fest in Canada quivering in its boots. How can they even compare to the likes of Lorde, Muse, and the Weeknd? Your fav could never. Not only does Osheaga have a legendary three-day lineup, it takes place in a city that is very close to my heart, Montréal.

The most difficult part of attending a music festival, besides the fear of a dying cell phone, losing your friends, or running into your ex-boyfriend and his new boo is choosing what artist you are going to see on a given day. Let’s face it, it’s impossible to do it all, but that won’t stop us from trying. We often get too lit, or too lost (most likely a combination of the two), and run the risk of missing our favourite artists.

Not to worry, we have you covered. Claire and I have made a list of our top artists you must see on each day of Osheaga to help cement your decision or simply point your internal compass in the right direction after one too many Molson Canadiens with your best friend, Ben.

FRIDAY AUGUST 4TH 

Photo: Matt Seger

SAMPHA [SCÈNE DE LA VALLÉE VANS @ 4:55-5:40 PM]

Not only do I love slow, melodic soul music, but I also have a soft spot for British accents. Considering this, Sampha sings and speaks directly to my soul. He has quickly become a muse for some of the biggest names in music (Drake and Kanye for example), and built a reputable discography for himself. His debut album, Process (2017) came out after many years of waiting and long time fans like myself devoured it.

Photo: Marie Claire

TOVE LO [SCÈNE DE LA RIVIÈRE VIRGIN MOBILE @ 5:40-6:30 PM]

If Tove Lo’s music is anything, it’s honest. Her mix of cool synth pop and frank lyrics are the reason why I like her so much. Her music is raw, brutally honest, and empowering. Her unique vocals have also lent themselves to tracks with Coldplay, Nick Jonas, Broods, and Flume. Who doesn’t love to sing along to the dark breakup anthem Habits (Stay High) or the raw confessional love song Talking Body?

SATURDAY AUGUST 5TH

Courtesy of Capitol Records

JON BELLION [SCÈNE DE LA VALLÉE VANS @ 6:30-7:20 PM]

There is a lot of work that goes into creating music. Often, artists have a huge team backing them to help produce, create beats, and to put finishing touches on their work. Jon Bellion creates and produces all his own music. Anyone accustomed to his music will know the great amount of fine detail that goes into each track he creates, which registers as a sure sign of an absolute creative genius.

Photo: arkellsmusic.com

ARKELLS [SCÈNE VERTE SONNET @ 7:20-8:20 PM]

If you haven’t seen them yet, it’s an absolute must. These Ontario natives rep their hometown of Hamilton, HARD. They are known for their passionate and honest rock and energetic live shows. Their latest album, Morning Report (2016) was described by the band’s singer/guitarist Max Kerman as their “most honest” work yet. The album’s first single, ‘Private School,’ peaked at number one on Canadian Alternative radio. A festival is a perfect venue for them to show off what they’ve got.

SUNDAY AUGUST 6TH

Courtesy of Vevo

ZARA LARSSON [SCÉNE DE LA MONTAGNE COORS LIGHT @ 2:05-2:45 PM]

I haven’t been in love most of my life. That is, until I stumbled upon Zara Larsson. This singer-songwriter is a Swedish bombshell whose debut international album, So Good, was released in March 2017. She produced six singles, including ‘Lush Life’, ‘Never Forget You’, ‘Ain’t My Fault’, ‘I Would Like’ and ‘Symphony’. One can’t help but dance along to her infectious music, and I guarantee that you don’t want to miss her set as a closer for your last day at Osheaga.

Photo: The Fader

LOCAL NATIVES [SCÈNE DE LA RIVIÈRE VIRGIN MOBILE @ 4:10-4:55 PM]

I was recently introduced to this band by a friend of mine, and I have been obsessed with them ever since. Their dramatic brand of indie rock gives off some serious California vibes, which makes sense since their home base is Los Angeles, California. Their music is a combination of various harmonies and intricate sounds that somehow come together to form a collaborative, dreamy sound. Formed in 2008, the band has come a long way. Their sophomore release reached number 12 on the Billboard 200, and their highly anticipated third album, Sunlit Youth, was released in summer 2016.

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Catchin a cold at Toronto new surf shop

Aliya N Barnes in front of Elie Landesberg’s photo.
Photos by Sveta Soloveva 

Try on a juicy rash guard, flip through a surf magazine, grab a board of your dream and … go surfing!

Are the Great Lakes too cold for you? Don’t worry, Surf the Greats company got you covered. Their new surf shop and café at 276 Carlaw Avenue offers thick cold water wetsuits, surf booties, and mittens from Rip Curl. While the warmest gear keeps your body comfortable, the beach-inspired events and parties will take care of your mood. For example, until July 29th, Catchin A Cold photo exhibit showcases works from 16 artists who represent all five of the Great Lakes.

Hidden in the labyrinth of the building, the shop became one of many surfers’ favourite spots in Toronto even before it opened. Even while under construction, it hosted Toronto’s premiere of environmental movie Island Earth and welcomed adventure photographer Chris Burkard who was in to Toronto to present his surf documentary Under An Arctic Sky.

Now the shop is officially open and it offers everything surfers need for their soul and body, from surfboards, apparel, sun care, and printed matters to surf and yoga lessons, energizing drinks, and many exciting events like film screenings and live music concerts!

“The atmosphere is totally amazing,” said 20-year-old Aliya N. Barnes, who attended the grand opening party on June 29th. “It’s colourful and bright, but it still has a nice surf chill feeling. I feel like I wanna live here.”

Surf the Greats’ owner Antonio Lennert said that the physical shop is an extension of their online platform that brought many surf enthusiasts together through organizing beach cleanups and free yoga classes and offering surf equipment and lessons for the last three years.

“We started online as a media outlet to connect all different communities of surfers over the Great Lakes using hashtag ‘surf the greats’,” he said. “I feel like we’ve earned the community’s trust by giving, and now the community is giving back to us. That’s why now we have a home, and there’s so many people here and so much positivity. It just feels very special.”

Surf the Greats’ sign over the bar table is shimmers in its juicy colours, shifts from pink to blue and from blue to green. Dj Great Lake Shark (Ellie Landesberg) creates a tropical vibe with folktronica tracks until the band Gold Complex takes over with their live acoustic.

Gold Complex performs at the surf shop on June 29

Guests sample RISE Kombucha, order beer from Sweetgrass Brewing Co., and explore newly arrived surfboards and apparel. There are a couple of major brands like Vans Canada and Rip Curl, but Surf the Greats tries to stay local as much as possible and carries products from Montreal, Tofino, BC, and Toronto, along with their own brand.

Walking through the rows of beach bags and rash guards, the visitors occasionally stop and stare at the photos of Catchin A Cold exhibit. The sixteen photographs vary from black and white to colourful, and show surfers riding or waiting for waves, walking to and staring at the water. “What you see on the walls is a mix of professional photographers and people who go to beach with their phones,” said Lennert. “We tried to make sure that we represented all the Great Lakes, amateur and professional photographers, male and female photographers.” Surf the Greats announced the photo competition in the winter and, working with Vans Canada, selected the winning works out of 700 submissions.

Dj Great Lake Shark (Elie Landesberg) creates a tropical vibe at Surf the Greats’ grand opening party
“I took this photo in Scarborough, Ontario, in a very-very stormy day, and there was one surfer out in very turbulent water,” Elie Landesberg told Novella about his black and white photo. “Because the sky was so grey and the birds were blowing around the sky, I thought it was a metaphor for my life and for surfing to see somebody sitting insulated, so calm among so much turbulence and chaos.”
Lennert said Surf the Greats will host a new event every week. Many of them are free or by donation. Check out a screening of a the surf movie GIVEN on July 20, a wave forecasting workshop on July 29th, and beach yoga every Sunday morning.
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Natasha’s Guide to Road Trip Packing

In the movies and on Instagram, a road trip looks easy: just pack some stuff and hop in a car and go. Based on my consumption of such cinema classics as Easy Rider and Crossroads, I too was under the impression that road trips were all about spontaneity and the open highway.

They aren’t. Or at least they aren’t if you’re working on a budget of money and time. For our half United States/half Canada cross-country road trip, a friend and I booked all of our accommodations in advance, scheduled time off of work, and made checklists for what to bring.

Planning the route and accommodations was one thing, packing was another. I am by no means a light packer. I’m under the impression on every trip I go on that for some reason I’ll be changing outfits at least twice a day. That type of “I dunno, just bring it anyway” tomfoolery won’t fly on a road trip. We have a small car and half of it will be filled with camping gear. We need to economize, and since we’re camping for part of the trip, we’ll need outdoors-approved, weather-appropriate attire as well as the essentials for looking cute while in the cities.

Really, this should be titled “The Vain Millennial’s Guide to Packing for a Road Trip” as that’s exactly what it is.

Clothing

The best travel advice I’ve ever heard is, “Bring half of what you think you need, and twice as much money.” As much as I’d like to bring my entire wardrobe with me, I can’t do that. I do, however, need different options for different weather possibilities. It’s always a good idea to check the long-term forecast of wherever you’re travelling to to get a sense of what you need. I’m travelling through North America in June, so I’ll have shorts and dresses, but I’ll also bring a rain jacket, jeans, and some warm sweatpants because you never know with Western Canada.

As far as footwear goes, it’s sneakers and boots for hiking. Again, you have to judge what you’ll be doing. I know I’ll be doing a lot of walking and hiking in the woods. I’ll only bring one pair of cute shoes for nights out. Maybe two. Three as a complete maximum.

When you’re packing apparel for a road trip, you always need to think about comfort. So much of your time will be spent sitting in a car. You’ll want to be able to stretch, to breathe and, in all honesty, to let your gut hang out a little bit. You won’t want to wear tight jeans or a body con dress with heels. Unless you’re at your most comfortable in that, in which case, go for it.

We live in an age of travelling via Instagram posts, and maybe many of you absolutely are not more content with having outfit options for a couple of pictures, but I unashamedly am. If you are with me and think about this kind of thing, you need to narrow it down. Bring only two or three nice pieces to wear for photographic moments or nights on the town. Because really, the majority of time you spend on the trip will be sitting in the car, stretching at roadside stops, and walking around cities.

Beauty + Skincare

The best and easiest option is this: don’t bring any makeup. Just don’t do it. Idealistic but not realistic. I’m a person who loves their makeup and I’m bringing it. The key is, again, to downsize. Really only bring the essentials, the holy grail products that you know won’t fail you. Now is not the time to try out that new eyeshadow palette or three different foundations that look promising.

As far as skincare goes, the most important is sunscreen. If you know you’re going to spend any amount of time outside, bring it. Also bug spray. Leave your fancy five-step night creams at home. Since I’ll have makeup and will be outdoors, it’s also a good idea to bring makeup wipes or micellar water, something you can use to clean your face up without running water, even just to get the grime from the day off. Same goes with any kind of cooling or refreshing spray. When you’re jumping between being outside and being in a climate controlled car, you’ll probably not be feeling so fresh by day four. The only other necessary beauty product to bring in my opinion is a dry shampoo because it will keep you sane in the chaos.

Miscellaneous

A portable phone charger. I cannot stress this enough. You won’t always be near somewhere with an outlet and if your phone dies while stranded on a roadside you’re perfectly set up to become a side character in a slasher flick. This is especially relevant if you plan on using your phone as a GPS.

Obviously, since the main event of a road trip is the driving, I’d recommend bringing something to pass the time. Even if you’re going with your best friend, I don’t know if anyone can talk for nine hours straight. Consider the following: music, audiobooks, podcasts, maybe even a game you can play while driving.

As I’m camping on my trip, there could be a whole other section for camping-related equipment, but it’s pretty standard what to bring: a tarp, tent, bed rolls, sleeping bags, flashlight, matches, water, and a cooler to bring food in. If you are going camping it’s also wise to bring some warmer clothes. Again, you never know.

My last piece of advice could be considered the holy grail of road trip necessities: Advil and motion sickness medication. I’m not playing around. Driving for hours on end can have you pretty messed up pretty quickly. You want to be awake, alert, and having fun on this trip, not lying down in the back seat with a cold compress to your head.

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