Western Standard

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Friday, October 05, 2007

150 million pages of fighting the good fight

To my deep regret, the Western Standard has decided to stop publishing our print edition.

It's a purely financial decision. Even though our advertising revenues were stronger than ever, with marquee brands like GM, Mazda, BMW and Air Canada filling our pages, and even though we had the most loyal subscribers in the business, with an unheard-of 80% renewal rate, we just weren't close enough to profit.

I offer my thanks to our amazing staff, our loyal investors, and our enthusiastic subscribers, all of whom showed great faith in our project. Our online presence will continue for now in the form of this blog at least; when I spoke recently with our senior columnist, Mark Steyn, about our financial difficulties, he suggested ramping the website up into a Canadian version of Townhall or a conservative version of the Huffington Post. It's an idea worth considering.

We were unable to generate a financial rate of return, but we had an enormous moral rate of return. From our very first edition, back in March of 2004, we had a disproportionately large impact on the national discussion. It's tough to pick favourites out of the 82 editions that we published, but some of the highlights for me were our investigative report into Power Corp. and its political influence; the Libranos edition; and, of course, our publication of the Danish cartoons, and our follow-up issue on the same subject. Even our blog had great moments, including when we leaked the Liberal Red Book in the last election.

The common thread to all of those stories was our editorial independence. No magazine owned by a corporate colossus could do such digging on the Desmarais family without a friendly phone call, CEO to CEO, to call off the story -- as happened to the Montreal Gazette. And no magazine -- or TV station, or newspaper -- felt able to publish the Danish cartoons, either. Whether they were smothered by general corporate caution, or ideological correctness, it fell to a little magazine in Calgary to take the risk. I hope that the fact that we neither suffered physical nor financial harm for doing so serves as encouragement to other media in the future to resist radical Muslim calls for censorship. One of the only stories I wrote for the magazine was our rationale for publishing those cartoons. It can be found here, and the human rights commission's attack against us, and my response, can be seen here.

Speaking of that human rights attack, the official "investigation" is scheduled to commence against us next month. I spoke with our lawyers today, and there ought to be no reason why we still cannot fight the complaint against us -- and the commission's grotesque assertion that they even have jurisdiction over a magazine. I only regret that we will not be able to cover every proceeding of that kangaroo court in our print magazine.

I am proud of the team we assembled, ranging from seasoned pro's like Ted Byfield to the next generation of voices like Colby Cosh. Alumni of our magazine, including our former interns, are working at some of the most influential media in the country. What was so touching to me was that even our staff who worked in the non-editorial departments of our magazine looked at us as a mission, and loved our project as much more than just a job. I don't propose to name everyone, but I would like to single out Lyle Dunkley, our chairman, chief investor and greatest booster; Joe Nadler, a passionate and dear supporter; and Matthew Johnston, my co-pilot throughout the whole adventure.

Over the course of those 82 issues we printed 150 million pages of great conservative news and views, plus 40 million page views on our website, plus hundreds of hours on our various radio shows. We were also truly national -- with 20% of our readers in Ontario, and 19% in B.C. Those are impressive numbers, but it was the independent, tell-it-like-it-is quality that I'll remember.

Thank you to our entire extended family -- staff, subscribers and investors -- for an amazing project, the effects of which will continue to echo for years to come.

Ezra Levant, Publisher

Posted by Ezra Levant on October 5, 2007 | Permalink


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» Bye bye conservatives from the darkerside to rants
Oh, what sad news I just found, it seems The Western Standard is no more. I remember when I bought a copy back in 2004, my so far one and only one. I bought it just after I had moved to Edmonton and decided to figure out what this ... [Read More]

Tracked on 2007-10-05 6:29:01 PM

» Bye byeconservatives from Snowrunner's Observations
Oh, what sad news I just found, it seems The Western Standard is no more. I remember when I bought a copy back in 2004, my so far one and only one. I bought it just after I had moved to Edmonton and decided to figure out what this ... [Read More]

Tracked on 2007-10-06 11:05:32 AM

» Requiescat in Pacem, Western Standard from Pros and Cons
This is depressing, though not unexpected. ... [Read More]

Tracked on 2007-10-15 9:02:36 AM


Sad, very sad. Real journalists in Canada are extremely rare, you guys were so refreshing. The Western Standard is the only magazine I have ever subscribed to.

Posted by: philanthropist | 2007-10-05 11:36:31 PM

Agree that the "Western" in the title was unnecessarily limiting in its country-wide appeal as "Alberta" was in the Alberta Report. Admittedly, the percentage of conservatives has a high drop-off rate the further east one goes but even among conservatives out here, the recognition factor seemed too low considering the quality of the product.

You fought the good fight and deserve kudos for one of the better-written magazines of any type.

The few left wing comments above stick out from the rest for their lack of class and the usual name-calling. I don't search out the websites of left wing magazines etc. that can't make a go of it to make nasty remarks. It's like going to a wake to speak ill of the dead, but this kind of tasteless gloating is very characteristic of the left. Pay them no mind. They cannot even comprehend the Mohammed cartoons as a test of free speech that most Western media failed badly, jeopardizing our freedoms by bowing to threats of violence and a virulent political correctness that is going to get us killed.

My condolences and you will be greatly missed as an antidote to the inundation of left wing commentary and the smug ignorance that your non-readers flaunt.

Posted by: laine andrews | 2007-10-05 11:40:45 PM

Sad to see you cease publication Ezra. Please look strongly at an online edition to continue. You covered stories that I saw nowhere else and I looked forward to every issue. Well done! You and your team will be missed.

Posted by: DML | 2007-10-05 11:41:58 PM

I repeat the sentiments of Joe Molnar. I read the on -line version and the hard copy but a lot of older people, clinics, Dr Offices etc do not have an internet. Some people like the feel of printed material in their hands.
Good Luck to everyone here. You have been the only voice for the Conservatives of this nation and you will be fiercly missed. Thanks for being there for us for this long - and thanks to the Report Magazines too.

Posted by: jema54j | 2007-10-06 1:06:17 AM

I'm one more sad guy. Ezra and others, I wish you well in the future.

In contrast to other voices, I don't especially encourage you to go into politics. We need conservative talent in media, discussion and debate more than we need it in parliament.

Posted by: Peter_E | 2007-10-06 1:14:51 AM

Ya Whoo!!! God is good. Trash in... trash out... and gone. :)

Posted by: hiti | 2007-10-06 1:19:36 AM

This is tragic! I always felt so good coming from the post office with my latest Standard or National Review in hand. This is really a sad day for Canada. I still cant beleive it!

Posted by: George Bolger | 2007-10-06 1:23:07 AM

Ezra, I first met you way back in the early Reform days - you spoke at one of our town hall meetings. I was impressed with the maturity of your thinking (you agreed with me - enough said), your easy manner of speaking, your delivery but most of all with your content and conviction. You have carried those qualities into your books and your magazine. Thank you for the investment you made on our behalf to give us the 'real scoop'.
I am sure we have not heard the last of you!
Good luck and please continue the internet version.

Posted by: Eleanor Maroes | 2007-10-06 3:50:46 AM

Actually, I am rather pissed off at your decision. This is the second time that I have been burned by renewing a subscription, this time for 2 years, and having the magazine fold. This first was with the Byfield's and the Report magazine. It certainly will cause me to wonder whether to subscribe should another magazine try to fill the void. You should have told us earlier about the financial difficulties to see if some help could have been forthcoming.

Posted by: dale | 2007-10-06 5:02:30 AM

To lose you and Mark Steyn is a real disappointment. Don't let that agile mind go to waste. Get back into politics and continue the good fight for the right!

Posted by: E. Campbell | 2007-10-06 5:08:21 AM

Thank god.

Posted by: BD | 2007-10-06 5:11:18 AM

Sorry to dissent from the chorus here, but I declined to renew my subscription because, well, the magazine just was not that good. I found I was only reading it for Steyn's column. I would recommend you focus hard on turning your web edition into something along the lines of National Review. This means stop asking folks to contribute content for free - what the hell were you thinking with that? And moderating your comments on the Shotgun. I don't even go there anymore as the comments section has become a sewer. The free speech no moderation thing is great in theory, but I think it just does not work out in practice. Look at the quality of the comments on Andrew Coyne's or Stephen Taylor's or Steve Janke's blog, then look at the comments section at the Shotgun and you may see what I mean. As it stands, there is nothing at the WS to attract my interest - I can get far better content elsewhere. You may want to address your mind to that, as I am pretty sure I'm not the only one who feels this way.

Posted by: Jonathan Westphal | 2007-10-06 5:20:28 AM

"Thank god.

Posted by: BD"

As if this atheist believes in a deity. (Couldn't even capitalize it - that's how disrespectful he is.)

Posted by: obc | 2007-10-06 6:26:59 AM

Bwhahaha...Patels wants his sub. money back, while your at it Warner ask for your hair to grow back.

Posted by: no refund | 2007-10-06 6:54:30 AM

Thanks Ezra for all your hard work. I joined your Publishers Circle to try and support you after th Danish Cartoons. I am saddened that one of the few conservative voices is being silenced .
That being said I have seen suggestions to perhaps have just an online edition like TV guide and charge for subscriptions.
I wish you and your staff well Ezra.

Posted by: Roy Eappen | 2007-10-06 7:01:36 AM

I regret that you have decided to cancel out your Print editions -which I look forward to receiving despite the ineptitude of the Liberal created Canada Post Corporation which provides very limited effective service here in the real East of Canada
-there is of course no "conservative" print media in
the entire Atlantic region, thus the Western Standard, filled an important void, and provided first rate journalism, plus a real Conservative perspective. The Dominion of Canada after all was
created by Conservatives -MacLeod Monckton NB Canada

Posted by: Jack Macleod | 2007-10-06 7:05:51 AM

CTV's web page comments actually censor the comments - either by deleting portions of the comment or not printing conservative viewpoints at all.

Of course, anti-American moonbats have free reign, along with their factually incorrect claims which abound.

Posted by: obc | 2007-10-06 7:28:04 AM

I have a paid up WS subscription....can I get that credited towards an online subscription to the new format?

There are too may good editors and contributors to WS to see it tank....save the trees....go digital...if the WS site gets the same traffic as SDA or other tory blogs a small fee to view and intercat with editors and journalists would be a small price to pay.

Posted by: WL Mackenzie Redux | 2007-10-06 7:50:26 AM

Good .... to a sad .... (sunshine, lolipops and rainbows) etc.

[Comment edited by moderator just for the hell of it. :)]

Posted by: Progressive | 2007-10-06 8:20:19 AM

"CTV's web page comments actually censor the comments - either by deleting portions of the comment or not printing conservative viewpoints at all.

Of course, anti-American moonbats have free reign, along with their factually incorrect claims which abound."

That's David Akin for you. I onced complained to his boss for the tone and language he used with users of the site (in a personal email), and his boss turned out to be an equally big fool.

Posted by: Werner Patels | 2007-10-06 8:43:44 AM

Not sad to see this mag finally end...the Alberta Report you were NOT!!!

Posted by: beancounter | 2007-10-06 8:43:56 AM

I'm sorry to read this. The more points of view in the Canadian media, the better. It is decidedly onerous to have to depend on the often blatantly anti-Catholic Toronto Star and Globe and Mail for my news. Thank goodness for the internet.

Posted by: Seraphic Single | 2007-10-06 8:51:56 AM


In Canada you have the right to blatant stupidity, and it is obvious you exercise that right to the fullest extent.

That doesn't mean anyone, in particular a privately owned entity, has to carry your stupidity to any extent.

Do us all a favor and climb back under your rock.

[Note: deepblue references a now deleted troll comment--moderator]

Posted by: deepblue | 2007-10-06 8:55:33 AM

Thanks for your good effort. I'm glad to have supported and subscribed.

Forge ahead with the web site.

All the best.

Posted by: Daryl | 2007-10-06 10:11:52 AM

I am bereft! You provided one of the few outlets for voices of sanity and reason in our northern neighbor. I sincerely hope that all of your excellent writers find outlets which will enable us to continue to read them. A Canadian townhall.com would be wonderful and eagerly devoured by us.

Posted by: NightFire | 2007-10-06 10:15:29 AM

Thanks Ezra and staff...you rocked this joint! Lets get going on the next project supporting conservative values...

Best Wishes...

Posted by: Okfalls Calgary | 2007-10-06 10:28:22 AM

After reading all the comments, my feeling is that really is a shame that you have to stop.

Either find another way on the net or maybe find businessmen who could help you bring back the Standard. I also would drop the western part. Maybe call it the National Standard.

God Bless you and the team. I shall pray for the new Standard to be born.

Posted by: Rémi Houle | 2007-10-06 10:32:34 AM

The WS can't turn a profit? Take the hint. As Stephen Colbert would say, the market has spoken!

Posted by: Lothar | 2007-10-06 10:32:54 AM

Lothar, does the "market get to speak" for CBC? Let's give that a try and see what happens.

I think you know what happens. Turdeau has and entire country brainwashed even from the grave.

Posted by: Doug | 2007-10-06 10:37:58 AM

Thanks Ezra and all who laboured in love. I enjoyed your magazine very much, and it was frequently used to counter the dis-information and socialist propaganda my children received at school. More than one "A" grade was received for reports with factual source material, all properly footnoted of course, to substantiate a conservative (and true) stance. In particular, your reporting on the Supreme Court of Canada, and the so-called Constitution, was very useful. My kids were always amazed at how much I knew. I did give credit where it was due. Thanks again, and please do consider a online alternative of some sort.

Posted by: Momathome | 2007-10-06 10:50:50 AM

I just can't believe it. What are we in The Socialist Republic of Torontario going to do?

The only magazine I read from cover to cover. Even my Liberal patients picked it up in my waiting room to see what true conservatives thought.

Perhaps, Ezra, you could consider a Canadian version of FoxNewsChannel. :)

May God (with a capital "G") richly bless you and your staff.

Posted by: Frank Q. | 2007-10-06 10:55:50 AM


Posted by: Snowrunner | 2007-10-06 11:15:55 AM

Damn it, why did this awful news have to happen on Thanksgiving weekend? Sigh.

Posted by: Cory Schreyer | 2007-10-06 11:34:53 AM

Ezra, several of us would be deeply appreciative if you would publish more about the details of your business. Details like your original and revised business plans as you adjusted to the market, income v. outgo and how that evolved, what worked and what did not, etc.

Please don't do any additional work, but making this type of data available would be a wonderful last service to the market. Just as no scientific experiment is never truly a failure if and when it is well documented and recorded.

Best to you and yours,


Posted by: Ari Tia | 2007-10-06 12:11:05 PM

Sorry about the magazine. But can we get some info on what happens next with subscriptions? I tried calling and no one is answering the phones. I renewed in July, and with the Summer break the mag staff had, I got exactly 1 issue for my $85 bucks. That's not right. Can someone from the staff please post some info about refunds or something. Thanks

Posted by: Stopthetrain | 2007-10-06 12:16:28 PM

Didya notice that the biggest complaint was from the petty folk about their damn subscription $$$??
Get over yerselves,people! There are others outta work here! Also, didja notice that the lefties
ALL leave abbreviated messages & are almost totally incoherent? (tee hee) Luvya Levant!! Get the web-site up AND get into politics!

Posted by: Robert Murray | 2007-10-06 12:51:02 PM

I agree with Robert Murray. While I did raise the question about subscriptions, I did so because the issue does need to be clarified for all concerned. Surely, Ezra could prevent lots of people from wasting their time calling in, etc. by issuing a statement here on The Shotgun.

Apart from that, I am more than happy to let Ezra keep the remaining balance of my subscription.

I also agree with Robert Murray about the lefties' writing skills. Almost every lefty blogger (Liberal, Dipper and "Progressive") is essentially a functional illiterate. They should not be allowed to blog and/or write in public. Period.

Posted by: Werner Patels | 2007-10-06 1:07:35 PM

Awww, you mean you can't find enough anti-semitic, racist, aboriginal hating rednecks to buy your rag anymore?

I'm truly surprised that your knuckle dragging neandertal membership can read, errm no wait, THAT IS WHY you can't be finacialy stable, in ALBERTA no less, lmfao, your readership simply cannot read.

Ah at last the tides are turning in Alberta, the necoCons are Dead, good old Eddie the incompetant and Klein the Drunk have destroyed Alberta and now you get to reap the rewards of decades of incompetance by Conservative news agencies, you're going the way of the DoDo/or is that DooDoo, I think closer to the latter.

No longer in Canada.
What a pity.

Good Riddance.

Posted by: Dean Grant Baker | 2007-10-06 1:47:18 PM

Those who dance on the graves of others will soon have others dance on their own graves.

Posted by: obc | 2007-10-06 1:57:00 PM

While my political beliefs run very counter to those of TWS and this blog, I will say it is a shame to lose a political voice, even one with which I massively disagreed. However, it is also clear that TWS was unable to find a sufficient market for its product despite trying for many years, which would tend to indicate that there was not that large a segment of the Canadian population that shared the views held by this magazine. Well that or that those that ran TWS were not sufficiently competent businessfolks to reach them. Either way though it is clear that the free market that so many readers of TWS believe in has spoken in this case.

It is a shame that a voice has been lost in the political discourse, but if one is going to advocate free market thinking then one must accept it when that market tells you that your product is simply not appealing enough to sufficient numbers to be profitable. I find it interesting to note though that while TWS appears to grasp this concept our current PM and governing party does not. No, they pretend to be other than what they are at heart/core, something TWS never did, which makes for a real irony for me, that TWS was a far more honest and principled source of Canadian Conservativism than the party which claims to be its standard bearer.

Posted by: Scotian | 2007-10-06 2:04:32 PM

Great magazine, sad to see it go. However, I am a full time student, and unlike most subscribers, I don't have money to throw around, and I just renewed last month (after a phone call asking me to renew, no less, which makes me wonder if it was a cash grab).

Posted by: Conservative Student | 2007-10-06 2:13:45 PM

And Dean Grant Baker is such a "great" speller, eh? Typical of the left, as I said before.

Posted by: Werner Patels | 2007-10-06 2:23:26 PM

The end I suppose should be mourned, but what the hell....hurrah

Posted by: trudeau's ghost | 2007-10-06 3:25:00 PM

It's losers who never try to build anything - but hold their greedy hands out for their own survival - who gloat at others' misfortunes.

Posted by: obc | 2007-10-06 3:34:27 PM


Posted by: Dean Grant Baker | 2007-10-06 4:11:19 PM

this is an anti semite who called a woman a squaw, and you lament his timely emise? that's the Right for you.

Posted by: Dean Grant Baker | 2007-10-06 4:13:06 PM

Oh yes and how could I forget that he got booted out of his own party not once but twice: once for slandering and threatening Chuck Strahl, and then again when good ol her Harpercrit himself ursurped Ezzie's riding and kicked him to the kerb.

Posted by: Dean Grant Baker | 2007-10-06 4:22:15 PM

Aye matey's, is dar cruise still on or has she been scuttled? aarrgh.

Posted by: Cap't Highliner | 2007-10-06 4:30:27 PM

Damn, damn, damn. Sorry to see the WS go.

Posted by: Mike | 2007-10-06 4:51:23 PM

I find it interesting that if you didn't love this magazine, you are called a lefty (or worse). There are OTHER reasons that some of us right wing thinkers were not interested in the mag. I also care not for the media group out of Winnipeg and ones further east. Sorry, but the customers have voted with their subscription money, mainly by keeping it in their pockets. I will give you kudos for NOT taking any government handouts..(you didn't, right?)

Posted by: beancounter | 2007-10-06 4:57:43 PM

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