Fact Check: Response to Ezra Levant’s Recent Report on our Intern Program
Ezra Levant has done some great work over the years. He has challenged extremist human rights commissions to defend free speech and exposed the hiring of radical staff by the new Notley government to name a couple examples of his positive work.
In fact, we even welcome his critique on our founder’s personal views on a carbon tax. Simply put, it’s healthy for conservatives to debate the merits and shortcomings of various policy ideas. We don’t all have to agree on everything.
However, it appears that over the last few months Ezra Levant may have let his personal feelings towards our founder get in the way of journalism that is based on facts.
We have already responded to the inaccurate comments Levant (and others) made about Mr. Manning’s role in the decision by some Wildrose MLAs to cross the floor – click here.
In this post we will correct the erroneous comments made by Levant concerning our intern program.
To begin, we would note that our intern program aims to recruit talented young Canadians from across the country and help them grow professionally so that they can become tomorrow’s leaders of the conservative movement; whether it be as an elected official, an employee with a think tank, a journalist, etc.
Our intern program not only provides interns with a chance to work on research projects, report writing and event planning skills, we provide them with an opportunity to learn how to run political campaigns, practice their public speaking skills and networking opportunities. (While we aren’t able to pay the interns much more than minimum wage, we do try to enhance their experience by treating them to a few fun experiences that make Alberta great; e.g. Stampede and a ski excursion to Banff.)
Our interns are also provided with a chance to learn from guest speakers in business, politics, the military, academia and other fields. Danielle Smith is one of a dozen or so speakers have stopped by for lunch/coffee with this year’s interns. These opportunities are a chance for our interns to learn about each guest’s professional background, their successes and mistakes.
Obviously mistakes were made when several Wildrose MLAs decided to cross the floor to the Progressive Conservative Party last year. Inviting Danielle Smith to speak was an opportunity for our interns to get her take on what she would have done differently as well as to learn from her positive contributions to the movement as leader of the Wildrose Party, as a former Canadian Federation of Independent Business spokesperson, journalist and public policy analyst.
Levant’s most recent reports on Danielle Smith’s meeting with our interns contains a number of inaccuracies. Here are the facts:
Claim: Preston Manning was involved in Danielle Smith’s visit.
Reality: False. The idea to invite Danielle Smith came from a staff member; the same staff member extended the invite to Danielle Smith. Mr. Manning had nothing to do with this event.
Claim: It was unorthodox for the Manning Centre to not post the meeting on its website.
Reality: False. Over the years the Manning Centre has had dozens of speakers come in and speak to our interns. None of the meetings have been posted publicly in the events section of our website as they aren’t public events. However, interns are free to make respectful comments about the meetings through social media; and some did prior to Danielle Smith’s visit.
Claim: A Manning Centre intern was condemned for criticizing Danielle Smith on social media.
Reality: False. Each guest is taking time out of their day to speak to our interns so we expect all guests to be treated with respect. Just prior to the meeting, an intern posted material that was disrespectful to Danielle Smith and we asked the individual to remove it. While we recognize that the floor-crossings evoked strong emotions, we expect our interns to treat all our guests with respect. Other interns made respectful public comments online and no concerns were raised.
Claim: Manning Centre staff who publicly opposed Smith were “barred from attending.”
Reality: False. No one was barred from attending the session.
Claim: Danielle Smith is receiving a “golden parachute” from the Manning Centre.
Reality: False. When Danielle Smith spoke to our interns she was given a cup of coffee during the meeting. Danielle Smith has never received remuneration from the Manning Centre.
Again, it’s unfortunate that Levant has circulated false information about this matter and other issues concerning the Manning Centre. We hope that Mr. Levant continues to raise important issues, but also ensures that all his comments are factual and accurate.
Hopefully, we can all now concentrate on more pressing matters facing Canada’s conservative movement – such as the current federal election.