HALLOWE’EN MOVIE MADNESS

So here we are, all Hallows Eve, when the shadows fall longer and we can all be our true selves a little more while pretending to be someone (or something) else. The dark becomes a little more seductive, a little more secretive, and a restless moon whispers long forgotten secrets to those brave enough to listen. No doubt you’ve seen AMC and Peachtree TV running the same offering of horror movies over and over (and over) again this past month, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to list my ten personal favourite Hallowe’en flicks. Make no mistake, I don’t consider these the top ten horror movies of all time, but rather the ones I try to cram in before the trick or treaters hit the streets. It just doesn’t feel like the Devil’s witching hour until I’ve caught these bad boys. Enjoy.

SHAUN OF THE DEAD: Before this comedic parody of the well-worn zombie movie hit theatres in 2004, no one this side of the Atlantic had any idea who Simon Peg was. For that fact alone this movie deserves celebration, but SoTD manages to offer plenty of patented dry British chuckles at the genre’s expense while still delivering some genuine pathos (the scene where Pegg’s Shaun has to shoot his mother in the head after she turns into a zombie is particularly memorable).

DAWN OF THE DEAD: Y’know, I never gave Zack Snyder’s 2004 remake of George Romero’s classic a second thought and ignored it when it hit theatres. But after a glowing recommendation from a friend of mine I gave it a shot. I still wasn’t initially impressed with it but this movie, full of frantic zombies that ran you down instead of stumbling around aimlessly, got in my head somehow, and I actually had zombie inspired nightmares for a week afterwards. So it stands to reason that I have to watch it at least once every year or so (have fun with that little nugget armchair psycho analysts).

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2: You’d be forgiven if this choice makes you groan; the Paranormal franchise has pretty much worn out its welcome recently yet still plans to release at least one more film next year. But PA2 was actually a pretty effective little fright fest. There were no CGI ghosts or flesh eating zombies commanding the screen, but the second chapter in the story of a pair of sisters being haunted by a relentless and malevolent demon (it’s teased that their grandmother may have auctioned the girls off to the highest satanic bidder in return for successful business advice-and you complain about your family) has more than a handful of chilling moments. For me it was the scene where the family’s German shepherd-who knew something was up the whole damn time-was dragged whining and crying into the dark cave-like basement to have who knows what done to it by a pissed off demon (one golden lesson I’ve learned from horror movies-pay attention to your pets).

POLTERGIEST: The undisputed king of the haunted house movie. Poltergeist terrified audiences when it was unleashed on an unsuspecting public in 1982. And this puppy kept me up for more then a few nights when I finally managed to see it as a twelve year old (geez Mom, what were you thinking). The original Poltergeist set the standard for special effects horror movies and haunted house flicks. The best part? The house in question was a brand spanking new suburban unit with zero history of violence or murder. Instead the whole neighbourhood, comprised of new houses, sat on a gateway between worlds. That’s right, the entire block was haunted (take that Ammityville). While the sequels were progressively worse (a side effect of Steven Spielberg’s absence), after seeing Poltergeist you’ll never look at stuffed clowns, left over pork chops, partially filled pools or TV static the same way again. Ever.

ZOMBIELAND: Focusing on a handful of unlikely survivors trekking across a ravaged America following the Zombie apocalypse (everyone’s favourite kind of apocalypse), Zombieland is carried by Columbus’ (played with tongue-in-cheek perfection by Jesse Eisenberg) list of tried and true rules for survival (“Double Tap” and “Cardio” are my personal faves), Woody Harrelson’s badassery, Emma Stone’s smart sexiness and a brilliant cameo by Bill Murray.   This comedy was also responsible for a spike in global Twinkie sales, courtesy of Harrelson’s persistent quest to find the last perfect cream filled pastry among the ruins of the United States. Say what you want about Zombies, at least they keep their rotten hands of the Hostess goodies.

THE CONJURING: The newest entry on this list, the Conjuring is based on real life supernatural investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren’s attempts to help a Rhode Island family combat a bloodthirsty (and royally pissed) demon hell bent on all kinds of unpleasant shenanigans. This movie is pure crafted creepy, from the spooky countryside to the grim and dismal house (with faded wallpaper, rusty faucets and screen door hinges that just won’t shut up). Special effects are kept to a minimum but used effectively when they make an appearance as director James Wan goes old school for his scares, using clever cut shots and well timed music. And wouldn’t you know it, the family dog seems to know the whole thing is going south way before anyone else and suffers because of it. When your dog is acting like Michael Vick is lying in wait for him, take the hint and hightail it the other way people.

INSIDIOUS: While this inventive flick of a boy who can travel the astral plane while he sleeps (attracting all kinds of scary and unpleasant things in the process) threatens to go off the rails once or twice, it’s a solid flick that pays homage to the likes of Poltergeist and others on this list. The sequel was pretty flat despite some decent writing, but we have Insidious to thank for refreshing the horror genre with smarts and originality. Anyone else who thinks there should be another Constantine movie but with James Wan in the director’s chair raise your hands. Anyone? Going once . . .

BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA: The one thing I remember most about this movie is the scene where one of Dracula’s vampiric brides chows down on Keanu Reeves man goods and the entire row I was sitting in at the theatre-where every seat was occupied by a male butt-doubled over in pained sympathy. But seriously, how Gary Oldman didn’t get any Oscar love for managing to portray the world’s most famous vampire as both an evil bastard and a sympathetic, tragic figure is one of modern cinema’s greatest crimes. Almost equally memorable was Anthony Hopkins borderline sociopathic portrayal of infamous vampire hunter Van Helsing. While occasionally over the top, BSD is probably the best movie portrayal of the horror classic (without all the racist undertones).   And ladies, in case you ever needed a reminder why your attraction to tall, dark and handsome strangers is unhealthy, look no further then the trail of bloodless female corpses Drac leaves in his wake. Just leave the bad boys alone gals, it’s much better for you (and your immortal soul) in the long run.

THE CROW: “Its justice for victims.” That was how Brandon Lee, who played The Crow’s main character, summed the movie up just before he was tragically killed in a stunt gone wrong (in a definitely Hallowe’en twist, the fatal accident was identical to a scene in one of his legendary father’s movies). It’s Devil’s Night in the desolate urban wasteland of Detroit, and Eric Draven watches helplessly as his fiancé is raped and tortured to death before he’s murdered himself, all on the eve of their wedding. A year to the day later, guided by an all-knowing crow, Eric returns from the dead. And he isn’t happy (hint: things don’t end well for the people who put him and the love of his life in their graves) and The Crow indulges in some dark poetry when it comes to meting out vengeance. Dark, violent, prophetic and at times beautiful, this cult favourite should be on everyone’s must see Hallowe’en list.

GHOSTBUSTERS (THE ORIGINAL): Turning 30 years old this year, this comedy classic is so beloved that people have been clamouring for a third Ghostbusters flick since a somewhat disappointing sequel in 1989. The recent loss of Harold Ramis has, pardon the pun, laid to rest any chances to see the original quartet of ghost hunters strap on their proton packs again, but a recent announcement of an all female reboot has received the stamp of approval from Ghostbuster-in-Chief Bill Murray. A team of paranormal scientists turn in their lab coats for hi tech ghost trapping gear and wind p on the wrong side of both the local government and a ancient God of destruction.  All in all not a bad day’s work for a bunch of guys fired from their university jobs.  This move screams Hallowe’en. Fun, witty, irreverent, Ghostbusters embodies everything that makes this time of year magic. The chemistry the original cast shared was lightning in a bottle and it was highlighted by Bill Murray’s quietly cool smart alecness. His trademark smirk alone was worth the price of admission. And what Zombieland did for Twinkies sales, Ghostbusters did for marshmallows, turning the Staypuff Marshmallow Man into the most absurd instrument of human extinction ever conceived.   That alone sums up the spirit of this classic.

Shayne Kempton

WHIPPING BOY

JUSTIN TRUDEAU STICKS HIS FOOT IN THE HEADLINES AGAIN, INSULTING CANADA’S MEN AND WOMEN IN UNIFORM AND CASTING DOUBT ON HIS WORTH AS A LEADER

            Oh Justin, Justin, Justin.

No sooner had I called out right wing wackjob and Sun Media “editorialist” Ezra Levant for being a juvenile ass hat and insulting your family (including your late father) then you turn right around and make a juvenile remark about Canada’s potential involvement in the international coalition against ISIS/ISIL in the growing powder keg that is the Middle East. Yep, this is what we in the sarcasm business refer to as a face palm moment.

The Honourable Mr. Trudeau made the remark in question last Thursday in front of a Parliamentary audience while criticizing the Harper government’s plan to dispatch Canadian fighter jets to the military quagmire that is Iraq (and to a lesser degree Syria). Trudeau Jr. referred to the Conservatives’ plan as “just trying to whip out their CF-18s and show how big they are.” Yes, to sum up, Justin Trudeau, leader of the federal Liberal Party and an eventual candidate for the Office of Canadian Prime Minister, compared contributing to a dangerous and lethal international military operation to a penis-measuring contest.

Oy.

So let’s approach this from another angle shall we Justin? ISIS or ISIL (their acronym themed name changes daily) is a terrorist organization that was too extreme for Al-Qaeda. Y’know, the guys who, in their infancy mind you, threw the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan at the height of the Communist empire’s might and have held the American juggernaut of a military machine to a stalemate for over a dozen years, yeah ISIS was too out there for those guys. And ISIS isn’t exactly a collection of pushovers, no matter what we would like to think or what our leaders tell us. This is a collection of radical barbarians who are well organized, well lead, very well equipped (most of their weapons still have their Made in U.S.A. stickers), well trained, battle hardened and is arguably the most well financed terrorist organization in the world, collecting up to three million dollars a day through heinous and nefarious criminal activities. Al-Qaeda doesn’t just find these guys extreme, but there are plenty who will tell you that Osama Bin Laden’s old crew are just as afraid of ISIS as anyone else. And they are just itching for a fight. Despite being outnumbered and outgunned, these guys are goading the rest of the world into a fight with a smile on their faces. And you’re making dick jokes about sending Canadians to fight them?

Sigh. Really Justin?

You see Justin; this isn’t just about ISIS, though that should be scary enough. Canada is weary of sending its sons and daughters to fight and bleed and die in foreign lands. We gave more then our fair share of blood and treasure in Afghanistan, fighting in a war that is increasingly looking like it was fought for nothing. I’m not saying we shouldn’t join the fight against ISIS, I’m not qualified to make that assertion right now, but what Canadians want, what they need, is intelligent, reasoned debate on how heavy a cost we will pay for getting involved in this war (because make no mistake, a war is what it will be if the West and its allies want to achieve their goal of destroying ISIS, and it will be long and bloody) and what you’re giving them instead is low brow, South Park locker room fare. In a little over a year you’re going to be asking Canadians to vote for you to lead this country, and there’s a very good chance Canadian soldiers will still be risking their lives in what was once Iraq and could be anything at that point. Will you sound like you haven’t graduated high school then too?

Make no mistake Justin, if this was about tax beaks or deficits or any of a thousand other things, I’d enjoy a chuckle or two right along with you. I mean who doesn’t enjoy a good phallic joke at the expense of a stodgy government every now and then? But these are soldiers lives Justin, and if you’re neither smart enough nor mature enough to understand the difference, the significance, then why should I or anyone else vote for you next year? So far, your brand has proven immune to the Conservative strategy of pre-emptive attack ads and thinly veiled smear campaigns that effectively neutered your predecessors before they even made it to their respective elections, yet you seem happy to provide your eventual opponents with bullets to use against you when Canadians head to the polls in twelve short months. Because make no mistake Justin, when the first Canadian falls in this fight (and I fear there will be more then one, another reason for a grown up discussion on this issue), your enemies and detractors will make sure this wretched little joke comes back to haunt you. And unlike when Sun Media slandered you and your family, I and many others, will let silence defend you.

Shayne Kempton

BELLE OF THE BALL

WHILE NOT AS EFFECTIVE AS THE CONJURING AND THE FIRST INSIDIOUS MOVIE, ANNABELLE IS STILL A NICE LITTLE GEM OF A FRIGHT FLICK

 

Director: John R. Leonetti

Starring: Annabelle Wallis, Ward Horton, Alfre Woodard and Tony Amendola

Studio: New Line Cinema

Running Time: 1 Hr, 38 Min.

Rated: 14A

If your expecting gore or an orgy of CGI effects, you will be sadly disappointed in Annaelle, but if decently crafted horror movies that rely on slowly building tension and nicely managed suspense, then Annabelle (the prequel to James Wan’s 2013 hit The Conjuring) is probably a nice fit for your movie-going experience.

It’s the early seventies and John and Mia Form (Ward Horton and Annabelle Wallis) are expecting their first child. Mia is also a connoisseur of vintage dolls and is delighted when John finds the perfect addition for Mia’s growing collection. But everything goes to hell (quite literally) after the Forms neighbours are brutally victimized by satanic cultists. Mia and John are forced to move but they’re followed by whatever dark force that has been unleashed and their young family finds itself stalked by a shadowy malevolence with evil and malicious intent.

Nobody is going to remember this for the acting as the performers are virtual no ones. I only recognized one or two faces in the entire movie. No, the most memorable face in Annabelle is that of the titular doll, who was a prominent figure in last summer’s The Conjuring (Annabelle is a demonically possessed doll held prisoner by paranormal investigators Ed and Lorrain Warren until it’s almost freed as an act of vengeance by a malevolent force the Warrens find themselves battling in Rhode Island). The doll is a genuinely creepy prop that grows more and more grotesque as the movie progresses. The true star of the film though is director John R. Leonetti, who watched his fair share of Alfred Hitchcock in film school. Like The Conjuring and the two Insidious movies, Annabelle doesn’t throw millions of dollars of special effects on the screen in hopes that they manage to manufacture a scare or two (Annabelle was shot with a relatively anemic budget of five million dollars), rather it relies on the skill of an adept director to build he audience’s tension and then release it at unexpected intervals. Leonetti uses music (both its presence and its absence) well to build a scary tone (most of the music is identical to other Wan directed/related horror flicks, creating a self contained horror universe for the film makers to play in), and then executes it with polished cut scenes and movement at the edge of the shot. What results is a decent little horror flick that will inspire a genuine jump or two. It’s a formula that was introduced in the original Insidious and then perfected in The Conjuring, and while I wouldn’t rank Annabelle as highly as those two films, it’s still an efficient little effort.

Annabelle isn’t without its warts; much of the story is borrowed from other well-heeled classics and it has its fair share of horror clichés (the absent, mildly disbelieving husband for starters) and a few of the plot points go nowhere (the neighbor kids for instance). But all in all Annabelle is a nice little movie that will get you in the Hallowe’en spirit, and it’ll probably keep you from looking at antique dolls the same way again (seriously, she does get pretty creeptastic by the end).

Shayne Kempton

THE HYPOCRITE AND THE POPPY

CONSERVATIVE MP JAY ASPIN IS A HYPOCRITE SLAPPING CANADIAN VETERANS IN THE FACE DESPITE BEING A MEMBER OF A PARTY THAT CLAIMS TO EMBRACE CANADA’S MILITARY MORE THEN THEIR POLITICAL COMPETITION

 Conservative MP Jay Aspin, Member of Parliament for Nipissing-Timiskaming has refused to have a poppy donation box for the Canadian Legion Branch 23 in his Constituency office in North Bay, Ontario.

Yes, you read that right but let me repeat it in case you didn’t catch it in its entirety the first time.

Conservative MP Jay Aspin, Member of Parliament for Nipissing-Timiskaming has refused to have a poppy donation box for the Canadian Legion Branch 23 in his Constituency office in North Bay, Ontario.

Did you catch the first word in that sentence?

Conservative. Keep that title in mind moving forward.

First of all, let me make one perfectly thing clear; if this was a Liberal or an NDP or a Communist or anything else, I’d be shouting them down and calling them out, but a Conservative MP refusing the Legion? The party that holds itself up as the champion of the Canadian military? That just makes it worse. Not that that’s out of the way, let’s proceed with the yelling, shall we?

So Mr. Aspin claims that he can’t have a poppy donation box in his Constituency office because he isn’t permitted by Parliamentary bylaw to collect donations in a public office, and is liable for any lost funds. Aspin says he’d be happy to distribute poppies, the time honoured symbol of respect and remembrance for Canadians fallen in war and during peacekeeping missions (and the primary source of fundraising for the Royal Canadian Legion to assist veterans) but will not accept donations. Bill Wilkins, chairman of local Branch 23 was a little more then shocked and said this is the first time in fifty years he’s seen an MP reject the Legion. Fifty years. That’s a five followed by a zero. As in half a century. As in most of the people reading this probably weren’t even alive when Wilkins began handing out poppy boxes or were just in diapers if you were. Now Nipissing-Timiskaming is actually a new Federal riding, the result of a 2004 amalgamation of Nipissing and a portion of the old Timiskaming-Cochrane riding and up until 2011 was represented by Liberal MP Anthony Rota, who Wilkins said always accepted a poppy donation box. Wilkins also reveal that other area MPs (I’m assuming belonging to various parties) have accepted poppy donation boxes.

So here’s what it boils down Jay; it is apparent that this by-law or regulation is being unenforced when it comes to the poppy at this time of year. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of Constituency offices from all political parties across the country with poppy boxes proudly displayed and collecting donations. Apparently the people who enforce this regulation have made it a quiet habit to look the other way when it comes to the Legion and public officials of all political stripes take advantage to help a patriotic cause. But not only are you turning your back on the Legion Jay, your doing it as a member of a party that is constantly and proudly telling the whole world how much it loves our military and our men and women, both past and present, who serve our nation in uniform. It’s a platform that won your party plenty of votes last time around, especially given Canada’s heavy involvement and bloody sacrifice on the sands of Afghanistan. It’s like the Surgeon General warning everyone about the risks of smoking between puffs. I wonder how other members of your party, especially those who make an exception to this by-law you feel is too sacred to bend or ignore, feel about your dismissal? Maybe they should ask you behind closed doors where the poppy you will soon wear on the floor of Parliament came from? Tim Horton’s? Starbucks? Your local mom and pop convenience store? Because those businesses are doing more for our vets then you are. And if you really wanted to be an anal retentive stickler about the rules (which are apparently ignored by Liberals, NDP and other Conservative officials) but still wanted to do the right thing, you could have offered to make a sizeable personal donation to the Legion and in return taken a box of poppies and distributed them for free at your office. But you didn’t even do that. All of this makes you a hypocrite who spits in the face of Canada’s veterans and doesn’t have the dignity, decency or intelligence to be ashamed of himself.

I wonder how long your constituents memory is up there Jay? Will they remember this next October when the country heads to the polls to choose it’s next federal government? Will they remember what you did when they cast their vote? Will it matter? After all, you only squeaked to victory in 2011 by a mere 18 votes. It’s a moot question, because I do have a long memory Jay, and I’m one of those demented schmucks who buys six or seven calendars every year (I like dragons, wolves and Despicable Me minions, so sue me) and I’ll make sure to circle October 19th on each and every one of them. Because I’ll be more then happy to remind everyone in range of my voice and my keyboard of what you did and what kind of hypocritical embarrassment you are. I don’t care if your riding votes Liberal, NDP, Marxist or chooses a chicken with three legs to occupy its seat in parliament, anything will be an improvement over you.

See you next October Jay. With a bulls eye.

Shayne Kempton

 

SPIN OUT

THE NHL RECENTLY DECIDED TO RESTORE THE SHOOTOUT’S ALREADY FAILING LUSTRE-BY MAKING IT MORE BORING THEN IT ALREADY WAS

 In the fall of 2005, NHL fans were treated to a shiny new on ice product. As a reward for returning in droves after squabbling between team owners and the players they employed kept the League’s stadiums dark for nearly sixteen months, NHL brass decided to put the dreaded (and boring) Dead Puck Era to rest. They injected fresh life into the game with a number of changes designed to promote offense and excitement. Among those exciting new ideas was the shootout, banishing ties from the standings and allowing the skilled elite the opportunity to decide the game and the game’s top starters the chance to save it with one on one goaltending heroics. It was hated by purists but was quickly embraced by the majority of fans, especially those who had plunked down a small mortgage payment to purchase seats. Now, nine seasons later, the same NHL brass decided to improve the shootout, once the darling of highlight reels, by making it boring.

Normally I ignore the NHL’s pre-season rule changes-they’re usually minor cosmetic adjustments-but when the League decided to ban the popular spinorama move from the shootout, I took a little bit of notice. I really don’t care about the shootout (it plays almost no role in my Edmonton Oilers fate; our addiction to losing during regulation takes care of that), and in fact, when a game does go to a shootout I lose interest. Like many other hockey fans, the novelty of the shootout seems to have worn off for me.   Shooters score on les then a third of their attempts (32.8% to be precise) and while I couldn’t find any hard numbers on this, I’m pretty sure we’ve seen a dramatic increase of shootouts going to absurd lengths in recent years, where coaches are forced to send out their low skill enforcers in a shootout’s sixteenth round. And some owners have begun grumbling about the shootout’s unforeseen consequences on the standings (the New Jersey Devils 0-12 shootout record meant the difference between a playoff spot and booking tee time in early April).

The spinorama move in question, where a shooter spins away from the opposing goalie while moving close to top speed to both misdirect and redirect his shot, requires an extraordinary amount of skill and is a move that can only be found in the arsenal of the game’s top talents. When executed correctly, the spinorama summons fans to their feet and fills all the highlight reels that night. When executed properly by the likes of Sidney Crosby or Steve Stamkos or John Tavares or any of the game’s other offensive heavyweights, it makes sitting through 65 minutes of regulation and overtime worth it. If the goalie facing the shot prevents the goal, its usually with a save of the year type of effort and is equally entertaining. If a shooter lacking the appropriate skill attempts the move and fails, it’s usually worth its weight in laughs (and even the guy who couldn’t pull it off chuckles about it in post game interviews). Either way, it offered a way to decide a game with pure skill, the way it should be (or offered a few good natured laughs). So why would the League want to take that out? Especially with scoring declining every season and clutch and grab hockey steadily creeping back into the game.

Now whenever I climb up on my soapbox I’m often asked if I have a better option. Sure do. Abolish the point for a loser system, where a team that loses in overtime or the shootout is awarded a point despite losing. Remove the shootout, and bring back ties, but expand the current five-minute overtime format (played by four skaters a side) to ten minutes before calling a tie. The team who wins, either in regulation or the new ten-minute overtime period is awarded 2 points, the team that loses gets none regardless of when the game was decided and if the two sides are still deadlocked after OT they each walk away with a point. This prevents coaches playing boring, stifling “not to lose” hockey to get that extra point and insures that skill players will have plenty of opportunity to decide the contest in overtime.

Without the spinorama, the shootout, which had already seen it’s entertainment value decrease in recent seasons, is now just a tedious drill and its likely we’re going to see it reach absurd lengths more and more in the very near future. At this rate, none of us will be upset to see it go the way of the Dodo, possibly as early as next season.

Shayne Kempton

SUN BLOCKED

JUSTIN TRUDEAU GAVE EZRA LEVANT AND THE FAILING SUN TV NETWORK WHAT IT WANTED WITH HIS REACTION TO THEIR INSULTS LAST WEEK

 I totally sympathize with Justin Trudeau’s recent decision to boycott Sun Media over Sean Hannity wannabe Ezra Levant’s recent tirade against both him and his family. Last week Ezra Levant, Sun Media’s resident radical right wing nut job, threw a five-minute temper tantrum on his Sun Media TV show The Source about Trudeau’s recent photo bombing of a wedding picture where he planted a kiss on the bride’s cheek (turns out he’d actually been invited by the wedding party and got the groom’s OK before the peck in question) and referred to Justin’s father, former Prime Minister Pierre (you may have heard of him) as a “slut” and claimed his mother, Margaret who suffers from bi-polar disorder, rarely “wore panties” and was pretty much the same. After a week of patting Levant on the back and making excuses for the “editorialist,” Sun Media posted an apology yesterday on its website. Levant said nothing during his show.

Make no mistake; if someone who’d been forced to apologize on his show for racist remarks (as Levant has) called my father a slut and implied my mother was the same, I’d be pretty pissed. In fact, the first conversation I’d be tempted to have with such a defective individual would with my fists as I played his rib cage like a piano keyboard. So the fact that Trudeau said he simply wouldn’t talk to Sun Media’s English outlets until parent company Quebecor (recently run by enthusiastic separatist Pierre Karl Peladeau) addressed the issue or Levant apologized is probably a little more civil then my initial reaction would have been. But that doesn’t change the fact that his decision to boycott an entire national news organization was wrong, but for different reasons than have been observed by just about everyone else.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am not a Justin Trudeau fan and while most of my personal politics are progressive, I am not a card-carrying member of any political party (I still have no idea what Trudeau’s stance on most policies are, outside of supporting legalized marijuana). I haven’t voted for any of Canada’s “Big 3” parties, either federally or provincially, for the past ten years, preferring independent candidates instead. I steadfastly believe that a free press is a healthy democracy’s immune system against tyranny, meaning I disagree with Trudeau on principle alone. And I’ll also contend that the Sun newspapers, which operate daily tabloids in Ottawa, Toronto and other major markets across Canada, are vastly different from Sun Media’s televised arm; the Sun News channel seems little more then far-right, big business loving, anti-labor, anti-environment, anti-immigrant propaganda that quite frankly gives Conservatives a bad name (which is probably why their ratings are so anemic). It also bears mentioning that the people denouncing Trudeau for his decision to shun Sun Media were in full support of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford when they decided to be very selective about which press they spoke to, usually favouring Conservative leaning outlets (in Ford’s case, there was a brief period when he would only speak to the Toronto Sun).

This isn’t the first time Levant has been in trouble or that Sun Media has had to apologize for his overzealous mouth and defective brain. Last year he was forced to apologize to Romanian Canadians for racist remarks he made about them on air. Levant’s apology came six months after the offensive remark, only after his arm had been twisted by a team of Sun Media lawyers (a CRTC hearing on their application for mandatory carriage was looming) and his pseudo-apology was about as genuine as the proverbial three dollar bill. The fact of the matter is Levant is a grade A, class one ass hole. Sun TV tries hard to be Canada’s version of Fox News and Levant works his little heart out to be the Great White North’s Bill O’Reilly or Glenn Beck, not realizing that Canadians, for the most part, don’t have the same appetite for hate and fear mongering as Americans.

Both Levant and Sun Media TV are usually beneath comment. The controversial little news channel averages 7900 viewers despite reaching over 5.1 million Canadian homes. And while they’re constantly preaching that free markets are infallible, they begged the CRTC for mandatory coverage in 2013, meaning they’d be included in most Canadian providers basic cable packages (at an additional cost to the consumer). In August of last year, the CRTC rejected Sun Media’s application as it continues to move closer and closer to a pick and pay format for Canadian cable subscribers.   Sun Media, launched by Quebecor in 2011, loses around 17 million dollars a year and admits it can’t sell advertising. Despite constant railing against CBC’s billion-dollar annual subsidy (an argument I’ll admit has some merits), Sun Media has hypocritically collected millions in government subsidies (some claiming as much as 500 million, though I’m a tad suspicious of that stratospheric figure). Even videos of Levant bashing Trudeau (and just about everything else) receive almost no views on YouTube, the only exceeding 1000 hits is the one where he’s being grilled by the Human Rights Commission. To sum up, despite having the promotional support of dozens of newspapers across Canada, in both French and English, Sun Media’s News channel is failing. And that’s the point.

The reason Trudeau (or anyone else for that matter) is wrong to boycott Sun Media is because it gives the dying network exactly what it desperately needs; publicity. Levant is a spoiled little child throwing a temper tantrum, hoping and praying it gets him a few more precious viewers in a country that is largely ignoring him and his employers. A few days ago most Canadians had no idea who Ezra Levant was, or that Sun Media had a news channel (reflected by their toilet dwelling ratings). But now that’s changed. Sun Media’s fan base is eating it up and the company has labeled Levant and “editorialist” instead of an actual journalist, and that he doesn’t reflect the diverse collection of individuals working under the Sun Media banner (though until yesterdays online exclusive apology, no one at Sun Media called Levant out or said his tantrum crossed the line). No, if I were Trudeau, I would have handled it a bit differently. I’d have come out swinging, mentioning the times Levant found himself under the scrutiny of the CRTC for his racism. I’d point out that Sun Media and Levant are watched by just about no one, pointing out that the channel was bleeding money as a result. I would have brought up the fact that while Sun Media likes to claim that it reaches millions of people a day (a bogus number; the combined daily circulation of their seven biggest newspapers is around 650,000 and as we’ve seen, there is a severe scarcity of eyeballs seeking out their television channel), what they don’t like to talk about is that their newspaper readership is slowly eroding and ad revenue continues to drop year after year. I’d wonder (out loud of course) how much of their declining circulation depends on the bikini clad “Sunshine Girl” in the Sports section or the ads for “Adult” services in their classifieds despite the fact that so many of Sun Media’s talking heads like to champion family values.   I’d ask Ezra directly what it was like working for the country’s biggest separatist.

Then I’d challenge him to a fight.

A charity match where proceeds go to the cause of the victor’s choice, similar to the boxing match Trudeau had-and won-against former Conservative Senator, current strip club day manager and future inmate Patrick Brazeau in 2012. I’d even offer Sun Media TV the exclusive broadcast rights for the match (they aired his bout with Brazeau) which would easily be the highest rated program in the failing little channels’ brief history. And then I’d sit back and quietly let those around me mock Levant’s inevitable cowardice (if there’s one thing I can smell, it’s cowardice and Ezra reeks of it, even through a TV screen). In essence, I would deny Levant and Sun Media the attention they so desperately need and crave and serve them up a healthy dose of humiliation, because if you can’t finish what you start, you deserve nothing else.

Shayne Kempton