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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


Be gone trolls. If you think that is the end, you are bound to hear good news pretty soon.

Hatred and wickedness will always loose.

Ephesians 6:12

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Romans 8:37

Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

And Ron Paul will be elected president of the USA in 2008.

Posted by: Rémi Houle | 2007-10-06 5:03:46 PM

If you want people to take your Bible quotes seriously, Remi, you shouldn't follow them up with nonsense like:

"And Ron Paul will be elected president of the USA in 2008."

Posted by: obc | 2007-10-06 5:06:18 PM

That's right because the next president of the US will be Fred Thompson.

Posted by: Werner Patels | 2007-10-06 5:29:26 PM

For better or for worse, it's Rudy in the oval office in January '09.

Posted by: Neil Flagg | 2007-10-06 7:45:23 PM

I'm shocked that even in failure, Conservatives would spew BS about the failure.

Good Riddance, more proof the neo-conservative wingnuts in Canada aren't getting anywhere.

Posted by: Craig Blair | 2007-10-06 9:06:02 PM

As I heard it, Ezra and management had every reason to believe that the last minute investor who came in to save them around the time of the Conrad Black trial was going to pump revenue in to keep the magazine afloat.

As much as I am pained to defend on this occasion considering my honour at being the first person to be banned from commenting here, Ezra and Management had no idea that the rug was going to be pulled out from under them.

Investors can be fickle. Any person who has been in business knows that it can take several years for a business to reach a point of profitability. Ezra stated from the outset that TWS was kicked off by investment funds.

It was always a race against time to shore up ad revenues, subscriptions and offset costs as well as give a return on investment in order to make this venture work.

So for all of you calling fowl about the the subscription drive even right up till the end, and claiming it as some sort of cash grab, that is probably not a very accuate depiction of events.

It frankly would have been irresponsible in running the business to not keep a strong drive going for more revenue via subscriptions and ad revenues, in light of the angel investor who had been brought on board in recent months. If you act like your business is going under, and dont keep pushing for more revenue, it would lose the investors confidence and make it unlikely that other investors could be found.

So... enough of the the talk about *cash grabs* on subscriptions. It was sound business. There are other things you could criticize the management for, but this is not one of them.

Posted by: MWW | 2007-10-06 9:39:41 PM

You just didn't appeal to real conservatives. I've looked at this blog occasionally, and it's been quite obviuous that most of the contributors are wannabe conservatives who don't have a clue what that really means.

One regular rants about right wing values on a computer that belongs to the government. I'd wager that a large percentage of you don't own the computer you are posting from, and are posting on company time.

Being a bill o'reilly fan doesn't make you a conservative. Worshipping rush limbaugh doesn't make you a conservative. A hack is a hack, no matter what party he supports. The western standard might have had good intentions when it started, but it just attracted a rag-tag group of followers that turned real conservatives off.

Posted by: dph | 2007-10-06 10:16:32 PM

I am sad that WS is no longer. I read it from cover to cover, holding off Mark till the very end as dessert! If you folks were having financial difficulties, why didn't you ask for some help, raise rates, etc. A lot of us would have chipped in if we had known it would have kept the magazine coming. I lost a multi year subscription to Western Report, now another one to Western Standard.
I dropped my long term subscription to Macleans a few years back because they were getting just to hard to swallow. When WS showed up, it seemed to give them a wake up call, they have now cleaned up and are good reading. Even have Mark on board!! I sure hope they don't think they can revert back to the old 'spoon feed em left wing mushy stuff'. Sure going to miss WS. Any online edition is a waste of time, money and effort. The only readers are the choir.

Posted by: Tom | 2007-10-06 10:19:12 PM

What a shock! Just found out from Mark Steyn's site. The WS was greatly anticipated and a cover to cover read at our house. I've been with you from the start, not just with my subscription, but with my sincere hopes that you would not only be successful financially, but that you would actually make a difference 'out there'. I believe that you really did have an influence and I thank you.
I know that there will be future great things from you Ezra. Let me know if there's any way I can help. Good luck!

Posted by: Bruce Carson | 2007-10-06 11:03:03 PM

Now we are left with what, liberal rags across Canada? Pro-Taliban rags like the Mop and Pail? Liars like Kevin Newman and his ultra biased Global? Pro-terrorist CBC? We need a white kinght to buy out CanWest global and give Canadians some real news - not just Al Queda inspired lies.

News flash for those who say the market has spoken. Sadly the market never speaks for the CBC, since it operates on the take from taxpayers. The Mop and Pail is on its way to oblivion as well. I do agree Canada has very few real conservatives, just the usual brain washed dummies who think the government can manage our lives and that everything wrong in the world can find its way to George Bush.

Posted by: Faramir | 2007-10-07 1:30:33 AM

[offensive comment deleted and IP address reported]

Posted by: Delete THIS! | 2007-10-07 3:00:44 AM

Very sad news, but a risky venture. You should be proud of staying afloat as long as you did. Independently, with no government handout and no "big brother" to answer to. That's a major accomplishment in this cradle to grave society we live in.

Posted by: kennedy | 2007-10-07 7:17:08 AM

I was heartbroken when I saw that the Standard had closed. It was the only voice that the west had, that wasn't controlled by the eastern media conglomerates. Hopefully you will rise up again, and give us something to read once again.

Posted by: Mildred Johnson | 2007-10-07 11:17:41 AM

Every new post simply reinforces my belief that everyone involved in this endeavour has serious character flaws.

For the sake of decency shut it down.

Posted by: dph | 2007-10-07 11:34:41 AM

Belinda Stronach IS a joke!

And don't ask me what the meaning of "is" is. Her boyfriend Billybob has THAT answer.

Posted by: obc | 2007-10-07 11:55:28 AM

[offensive comment deleted and IP address reported]

Posted by: Taliban-huggin fiberal | 2007-10-07 12:12:31 PM

As a fully paid up greenie I enjoyed the variety of information to be found in the WS. I disagreed with quite a large amount of it, I agreed with some. Ezra, whom I didn't have a whole lot of common ground, is to be commended for sticking it out for as long as he did.

It seems as if the 'nads that are posting here in glee are just reinforcing the hard right views of some on this blog; for dph and others of the same ilk grow up willya? If you think that a healthy democracy can survive without reasonable debate from all sides you're dead wrong and dumber by far than most.

As mentioned even though I am from the leftish side of the spectrum of Canada I enjoyed the variety in the WS. Without it all we'll have is the CBC, Globe, Tor Star and so on. Well, the Tor Sun is still around, as is the FP, but you all get my drift.

Truly, a sad day in Canadian publishing. Maybe when Lord Black gets through his "troubles" he and Ezra can get together for another go.

Posted by: Hoser | 2007-10-07 12:24:15 PM

Hoser ~

You misunderstand the Leftoids who are gleeful. They do NOT want healthy debate. They want a Stalinist state where all opposing viewpoints are banned - or at least labeled "hate speech" so that it is forbidden to be expressed.

Posted by: obc | 2007-10-07 12:30:46 PM

Ezra, Very sad news indeed. The Western Standard will be greatly missed.

It's pathetic, though, that a country of 32 million can't support even one solidly right-wing, high quality publication like the WS.

Posted by: JR | 2007-10-07 12:34:19 PM

Ezra, very sad to hear the WS go. Please try to make a comeback as soon as possible and please keep on blogging and being a true conservative on TV. I am and always will be a huge fan of yours and the WS and all its contributors.

Posted by: Ravinder Mlait | 2007-10-07 4:01:15 PM

"It's pathetic, though, that a country of 32 million"

Sorry, wrong number.

Subtract the French-speakers of Quebec, the immigrants who have not mastered English yet (lots of those) and the illiterate graduates of Canada's failure of a school system - and what you have left is much less than half of that number.

Posted by: obc | 2007-10-07 4:11:28 PM

Just one more observation on the end of the WS. I noticed both the the WS and the previous BC/Alberta Report that I never could find a single news stand in my area (Fraser Valley) carrying them. Therefore a large number of people were unaware of their existence. Of course the same news stands continue to carry all the leftist garbage, so one can only induce that this was no accident.

I know that it was not the case of the owners/managers of the news stands refusing to carry the magazines, since I inquired about it. I was told that the magazine selection was determined by their suppliers.

I tried to make as many people as possible aware of the magazine with the result that several were happy to subscribe. They commented on what a breath of fresh air it was.

The Left along with the Jihadists is totally intolerant. They love to spout about tolerance, but they have none for anything or anyone with different views. Clearly they will do their damnedest to eliminate other views.

Posted by: Alain | 2007-10-07 7:22:36 PM

The WS was always in the coffee room and we always had some good discussions over various articles. Will really miss you.

Posted by: peterj | 2007-10-07 7:38:41 PM

Have you considered continuing the publication as an online publication? Subscribers would receive the magazine in their email inbox. I know I prefer my publications in electronic format (pdf). You could have the same print layout, same advertisers, but very inexpensive distribution and printing costs. I would hate to see your publication die.

You could use this as an opportunity to rename your publication to "The Canadian Standard" (if the trademark is available).


Posted by: GGF | 2007-10-07 8:17:34 PM

GGF makes a good point. While I prefer having newsprint in my hand I would still be content with an online publication. Give it some consideration Ezra. I don't know how much impact disaffected money-losing subsribers would have on your bottom line but it would be worth a try.

Posted by: DML | 2007-10-07 8:48:38 PM

"Subtract the French-speakers of Quebec, the immigrants who have not mastered English yet (lots of those) and the illiterate graduates of Canada's failure of a school system"

You would have save a lot of time by only saying "The Nation of Québec and Alberta".

Posted by: Marc | 2007-10-07 9:04:59 PM


Here's an idea:

Why don't you switch to a monthly publication and strike a deal with the National Post to distribute your monthly magazine as a supplement to the paper? This way, you would increase your circulation by a lot and thus attract more advertisers at better rates.

Additionally, I'd change the name of the magazine to The Standard so as to appeal to a wider readership.

Posted by: Werner Patels (THE SPADE) | 2007-10-07 9:27:58 PM

Sad news.

Posted by: Jeremy | 2007-10-08 9:21:04 AM

It's yet another sad reminder of the direction that Canada is going. Conservatism in Canada is in total jeopardy and it's the Canadians who are to blame for letting it happen. As an American, I urge conservative Canadians to very soberly observe what you're witnessing there. It's a full-scale tragedy.

I soberly leave you with this link: http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2007/oct/07100103.html

Posted by: Steve | 2007-10-08 10:20:19 AM

The idea of a deal with the National Post seems interesting. I read the Post regularly.

Posted by: Rémi Houle | 2007-10-08 11:38:40 AM

It was just a matter of time untill Ezra's sick little racist, sensationalist wannabe conservative rag went under. Good riddence to your unimaginative xenophobic garbage project. You morons could media whore and dredge the bottom of the sewers all you wanted it--it still didn't help you get any sales. Ezra go crawl back into you warped little bubble. The market has shown that no one wants to buy your fear mongering bullshit.

Posted by: Ben | 2007-10-08 3:27:02 PM

benjie is a hateful individual who will NEVER find someone to love him for more than one night.

Posted by: obc | 2007-10-08 3:33:48 PM

Three times I have supported getting out the Conservative message; the first time it was buying $1000.00 in Ted Byfield's enterprise (last I heard the share was worth 1 cent); the second time it was Link Byfield's BC/Alberta Report magazine (A two year subscription lost when the Magazine went into bankruptcy); now another two year subscription lost as the Western Report folds. I wonder how much those two "Conservative Cruises" contributed to the bankruptcy and were the two Byfields guests or paying passengers?

Posted by: Russ Barber | 2007-10-08 4:03:17 PM

It is just a matter of time until Ezra's wonderful, healthful, powerful, not racist, not sensationalist, successful, conservative magazine Western Standard will be back for the pleasure of its readers and the education of trolls, (hopefully).

We know that no one in his right mind would want such a beatiful project to disappear.

You are part of our hope for Canada. There are enough bad and wicked information on the market today. And trolls dredging sewers!

Trolls be gone and Western Standard come back. We need you.

The market has not shown at all that they don't want you. It is a matter of adjustment and distribution all over Canada.

Posted by: Rémi Houle | 2007-10-08 4:13:17 PM

Looks like Ezra is as good of a businessman as he is a politician. This blog will be the next to go down and I'll be happy for it. Wow, I haven't felt this good in a long time. Maybe some of you will realize that extremism is the wrong way to attract the masses. There's a difference between giving news with a little twist (National Post, Fox News, Calgary Sun) than outright editorializing and selective reporting. This "newpaper" is a joke throughout Canada and even within Conservative Party circles. I'm sure even Steve W. Harper is happy about the death of the Western Standard because he wouldn't want to touch any of you with a ten metre pole. Good bye Western Standard and good luck Ezra, I'm sure McDonalds will give you your old job back. HAHAHA.

Posted by: Lefty_99 | 2007-10-08 4:44:46 PM

Lefty ..........sure the right name.

Posted by: peterj | 2007-10-08 7:25:20 PM

Thanks Exra and Lyle. You had courage, energy and vision.You helped the cause of truth and freedom. You took on a near impossible venture and gave many thinking people a rallying point. And a real run for their money. The one aspect of failure none of your critics address is that the eastern media moguls in the advertising agencies gave you no ads to match your paid subscriptions. They gave you nada.
How often we get new rags of "magazines" with no worth whatsoever but they are filled with those beautiful paying adverts. You were never favored. So much for the leftie, politically correct ad agencies who couldn't take the risk of upsetting some of the big media.
Carpers fretting about subscription monies should remember that an enterprise has to keep on a positive note till the end. They can't advise everybody two months ahead of time that they will not accept fees, articles, etc etc as perhaps the enterprise won't survive. That annoucement is the deathnell of ALL activity.
Good on you Ezra and Lyle for giving it your all. You lost time and BIG money, the rest of us lost neither. All best wishes,

Posted by: Neil Thompson | 2007-10-09 1:37:27 AM

I'd be mourning WS too, if it had been a thoughtful conservative magazine like National Review. As it was, it was at best a cheap-looking knockoff of US conservative mags, like many Canadian magazines. (They even imported much opinion content from US pundits--Mark Steyn was just one.)

At its worst (i.e. the updates on the Shotgun), it read like a parody of a conservative magazine a leftist might have written, making fun of angry, spoiled Albertans and suburban Torontonians who can't decide whether the biggest threat to Canada are the peasoups or the ragheads. Frank magazine called WS Der Stuermer for a reason.

Goodbye and God bless. If this is the best you can do, you'll need all the blessings he can spare.

Posted by: Ca ne s'invente pas | 2007-10-09 8:34:43 AM

Maybe you socialist pepsis can do better with your poutine culture if you all move back to Brittany where you came from.

Posted by: obc | 2007-10-09 9:00:51 AM

In fact obc, you're the one who moved away from the poutine culture. Now that the WS is dying and that it's clear to everybody that Harper will never get a majority, I guess you will also leave Alberta for the US - witch is the best thing that can happen for everybody, including you. There's about 2 dozens of americans comming here for each one of you leaving.

Do not hesitate to contact me if needing someone to pack your shit and help moving.

Posted by: Marc | 2007-10-09 9:38:36 AM

Yes - I'll contact you the s--t expert! HA!

Posted by: obc | 2007-10-09 9:41:54 AM


Thanks you, Quebec, for insisting that provinces look after the jurisdictions agreed to under the BNA Act.

I see some are still under the spell of Liberal divide-and-conquer tactics which see Quebec and Alberta as enemies of centralization.

Not me. Not PM Harper. I assume not you, Marc.

We are the champions of having the feds take care of what they're supposed to take care of and the provinces take care what they're supposed to take care of.

I cannot see Quebec as an enemy. I see Quebec as an ally against an attempt at totalitarian centralization in Canada.

Trudeau is dead and so is his vision.

Can't help but notice that since the Liberals lost access to our money, they are suddenly in financial difficulty.

Sure tells me a lot.

Posted by: set you free | 2007-10-09 9:50:17 AM

"I cannot see Quebec as an enemy"

1. Leave extreme right wing rethoric on Quebecers in the closet or to other deranged bloggers.
2. Accept the fact that Quebec's wishing for it's independance as nothing to do with an action "against" the ROC or Anglos. Then try to respect their calls for true democracie.
3. Try to respect the vues of other Canadians even if they're not religion's oriented.


Just kidding - "act as if" would be just fine.

By the way: No one sees Alberta as an enemy of centralisation - only as an enemy of environment.

Posted by: Marc | 2007-10-09 11:01:56 AM


You too can help the environment.

Just stop buying Alberta oil.

Posted by: set you free | 2007-10-09 11:14:44 AM

Only if you stop buying Quebecers - ok ?

Do one thing for me would you ?
Only one thing...
Look for "toxic Alberta" on "vbs.tv".

I am not an environment freak and I'm against the Feds controlling your treasure. My only problem comes from the fact that Alberta, with the petro-dollars and the intelligence of it's people, should make an effort to stop this mess...

It's very annoying.

Posted by: Marc | 2007-10-09 11:26:23 AM

Anything that annoys a Queerbecer is okay with me.

Posted by: obc | 2007-10-09 12:52:25 PM

Now, where the heck am I going to read Ric Dolphin?

"The Colonies" was the the freshest and most entertaining part of the Standard.

I miss Pierre Lemieux's hard-ass defence of liberty.

David Warren was always reliably off the wall.

Steyn I read mostly for his ingenuity in recycling old talking points.

As for the rest, the Standard lived up to it's name. More risks should have been taken.

Posted by: GrumblingFiveYearSubscriber | 2007-10-09 1:33:00 PM

"Anything that annoys a Queerbecer is okay with me."

3000$ burned on making a fool of yourself is not anoying - it's A BLAST !!!!

Strange thing that we cannot find one place to read about it and to make fun of it anymore...?
Even your email adress have changed...
For a guy proud of himself, you have une belle façon en esti mon ami...


The people and nature of Alberta are paying the price of this mess...
The anoying part is where idiots like you dosent care about the health of your compatriotes and nature. Sorry for you it's not Quebecers who will suffer from it.

Posted by: Marc | 2007-10-09 1:49:54 PM

Lefty_99 is rejoicing over the demise of the WS's "extremism". What about the extremism (real, not imagined, extremism) of the left, eh?. This is the real danger society in the West faces today.

Posted by: Werner Patels (THE SPADE) | 2007-10-09 2:02:08 PM

OooooH! Mark is upset!

Socialists are always upset when conservatives spend their own money as they choose. They want to be able to control other people's money.

Sorry pal. That's never going to happen with my money. Go after your own Queerbecers's cash. Mine is off-limits to the likes of you.

Posted by: obc | 2007-10-09 2:20:03 PM

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