Hamish Marshall, the national campaign manager for Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives, said “Hi” to me in Halifax, where I was part of The Rebel team covering the Conservative Party of Canada convention.
Or maybe I said “Hello” to him. I don’t actually remember. It really wasn’t an important part of the day. That is, until the Globe and Mail reported on this “shocking incident.”
The Globe even called it a "top story," and put it on the front page. A creepy picture of us chatting was posted on Twitter: Sheila Gunn Reid, our cameraman and I, along with someone else I had just met, were exposed to the world... saying hello to a former colleague. The horror.
Tory campaign manager chatting up old colleagues at bigoted Rebel Média that Tory party had banned from Halifax convention. He was “just saying hi” pic.twitter.com/efPQ5qgrFA— Robert Fife (@RobertFife) August 25, 2018
The story backfired to some extent. The journalist at the Globe was widely ridiculed for her bizarre article. Some delegates at the Conservative Party convention even gave out sarcastic buttons with the words, “Hamish said HI to me” on them.
The buttons mocked the very idea that such an interaction was even newsworthy.
But the more I think about it, the more I understand why the article was written. And it’s partially the fault of the Conservative Party.
The Conservatives have decided that The Rebel is toxic. That’s why they decided to ban The Rebel from their convention this past weekend in Halifax. (Initially the party permitted us access, then they reversed their decision.)
This wasn’t entirely unexpected. Andrew Scheer made the directive one year ago to disassociate with The Rebel after a former Rebel reporter named Faith Goldy went to report on the hate-march in Charlottesville, despite being told not to, and then also went on a neo-Nazi associated podcast as a guest. Faith was immediately fired for that, but for some Conservatives seeking mainstream media approval, it made The Rebel too toxic to be associated with.
Actually, the Conservative politician de-platforming began before that. It began when The Rebel had an anti-carbon tax rally in Alberta and rally attendants facetiously chanted, “Lock her up”. The mainstream media decided that chant went too far, and they called for politicians to disavow the jokey call for Premier Rachel Notley to be locked up. Of course, it was just a fun comparison between that Rebel rally and the Donald Trump rallies in the United States going on at the same time. Nobody was actually advocating the incarceration of Rachel Notley, and I believe that the talking heads, and even the virtue signaling politicians who denounced the chant, knew full well that the eight-second chant was nothing more than a joke, a way for a few frustrated voters to harmlessly let off steam.
But regardless, politicians seeking Canadian mainstream media approval decided it would be best not to interact with The Rebel at all after that.
That decision lends further credence to the outrageous things said about The Rebel all the time. Left-wing rags regularly publish articles (often without bylines) accusing The Rebel of being bigoted, or even racist. Of course, it’s all nonsense. The Rebel has made our fair share of mistakes, but we’re not bigoted.
But if you believe, as Andrew Scheer and others have decided to imply, that The Rebel is prejudiced, then I understand why the Globe would think it newsworthy to report that Hamish said hello to me and some staff. If we were any of the things that we are accused of being, then it would be a big deal to have senior Conservative staff speaking with us.
Faith Goldy was fired from The Rebel for speaking positively with real neo-Nazis. And I would expect the same from any organization that had staffers who positively associated with real racists. Except that’s my point: Hamish and even Andrew Scheer both know that The Rebel isn’t any of these things. They are simply virtue signalling. That’s why so many convention delegates, political staff, and politicians all made a point of saying hello to our Rebel crew this past weekend in Halifax. Because they too know full well we're not the racist monsters we’ve been made out to be.
The Rebel is just a conservative news, commentary and activism website. That’s all. But when Andrew Scheer capitulated to our ideological competitors in Canadian media, he provided the media with ammunition to bolster nonsensical claims about The Rebel. And if Andrew Scheer, or any political leader, actually believed the crap they say about The Rebel, then they probably should consider disassociating with every staff person, party member, and politician who spoke with us this weekend, too. Yet I doubt that will happen.
By disassociating with The Rebel, by banning The Rebel from reporting inside a convention, Andrew Scheer has brought the fallout from these dumb media stories back upon himself. If Scheer was honest about who he knows we are, then these media stories would be subdued.
Hamish says hi to a lot of people. It’s not newsworthy to report on who Hamish says hello to. Yes, it would be news if the national campaign manager of a Canadian political party spoke positively with racist monsters. But we’re not that, and everyone knows it. That’s why so many people at a convention we were banned from said hello to us anyway. Because they know who and what we are, and they are probably one of our million YouTube subscribers.