Free To Criticize

This article was first published in The Jerusalem Post Magazine.

Marni Soupcoff of The National Post. (photo by Peter Redman/National Post)

‘It would seem to me that in the ’70s, being a conservative Jewish writer in Canada wasn’t a growth industry. But now it is, or can be,” Lorrie Goldstein said over breakfast at the United Bakers Dairy Restaurant in the heart of Jewish Toronto. Goldstein, the 59-year-old senior associate editor of the conservative Toronto Sun, was comparing his early working years to how things are now.

Kevin Libin of The National Post

When Goldstein was starting his career – unlike today – the Canadian media and Canada itself leaned to the left of center. Currently there are several outlets to amplify conservative voices, and among those with prominent positions at those publications and networks are a significant number of young Jews.

At times, they speak out on issues with opinions that are at odds with those of the Canadian Jewish establishment. While they may be in agreement with the plurality of Canadian Jews who support Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government’s economic policies, they clash with them on issues of rights – in particular those of free speech.

Expression of stalwart support for Israel is a hallmark of both the Jewish community and the conservative press, but critics, as well as some of the right-wing journalists themselves, have begun to question this practice.

Jonathan Kay of The National Post (photo by Jennifer Good)

“There’s a louder voice for conservatives in the media than there ever was,” said Kevin Libin, 39, managing editor of the National Post in an interview in his office overlooking his paper’s main newsroom. “There’s been an industry move that naturally realized that there was a vacuum in the marketplace. The National Post sprung up [in 1998], and other papers realigned themselves to compete with it.”

And in terms of the new crop of Jewish journalists working for these publications, he said, “It took a couple of generations for Jews to realize that their fate and their prosperity and their survival weren’t necessarily linked to liberal ideals, and that Jewish cultural values could be communicated and supported as well, or perhaps even better, through conservative politics.”

Ezra Levant of Sun Media

For many, the loudest of the voices of which Libin speaks belongs to Ezra Levant. He’s the 40-year-old writer, radio commentator and former publisher (of the libertarian-leaning The Western Standard) whom Canadians, depending on their own politics, either enthusiastically cheer or totally abhor. Since April 2011, viewers have been watching him rant in FOX TV’s Bill O’Reilly-fashion against liberalism on The Source, his Sun News Network (“Canada’s Home for Hard News and Straight Talk”) show.

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© 2012 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.


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