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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


I'm having a blast !
The Fun would have been greater if you would have choose to answer the simple questions...
...but no...conservatives do not.
You're not a conservateur, you're an idiot.

Posted by: Marc | 2007-10-09 2:43:29 PM


Did you know marc is smarter than you are?

I'm guessing he's deluded himself into that belief that because he just called you an idiot.

It's tough when the seperatist agenda has suddenly become irrelevant and all our friend has left is to name-call and try to drag others down to his level.

Posted by: set you free | 2007-10-09 2:56:01 PM

"I'm guessing he's deluded himself into that belief that because he just called you an idiot."

I'm impressed !!!

Is it your IQ of 143, the bible or you are a head doctor that have hide it (VERY EFFECTIVLY) from us all this time...?

Posted by: Marc | 2007-10-09 3:02:51 PM

You were suppose to "act as if" mon ami...
...what did you think of the movie I suggess to you Set ?

Posted by: Marc | 2007-10-09 3:06:01 PM


Since I do not live in a fantasy world, I rarely attend movies.

And, I never, ever have come out of a movie theatre believing anything I was was true.

Have fun at the movies.

Posted by: set you free | 2007-10-09 3:36:11 PM


That should read: I never have come out of a movie theatre believing anything that I SAW was true.

Movies are escapism from reality.

I prefer reality. It's much more interesting.

Posted by: set you free | 2007-10-09 3:38:41 PM

...It's on the web, wise guy.

You wont listen to a US web report about the health of your neigors and tells me you don't live in a fairy tale ?

Have fun at the cimetery.

Posted by: Marc | 2007-10-09 3:39:55 PM

Mark reveals himself to be a one-note musician. Now that separatism has fallen flat on its face, he sings off key.

Pity. I would have preferred it if Quebec left - and fallen flat on ITS face as it was bound to do without equalization payments to keep it afloat.

Posted by: obc | 2007-10-09 6:08:06 PM

I will miss the Western Canadian perspective of this magazine. However it is not the only sensible magazine around. There is also the Economist, Foreign Affairs, the National Review, the Weekly Standard, The Freeman, Reason, and so on. There is a world outside of the pathetic press here in Canada.

Posted by: Hank Himmler | 2007-10-09 6:29:15 PM

Quebec have never been so close to it's independance. Having the ability to speak french would have confirm this fact.

Posted by: Marc | 2007-10-09 7:06:13 PM

Ezra, thanks for a great magazine. Keep the rest of my subscription. Good luck with all your future projects.

Posted by: Mike van Lammeren | 2007-10-11 6:56:51 AM

One more reason to hate this soft-Fascist country. In ontario citizens feel free to pick on a little boy for playing with a toy gun in public. Western Standard offset that--even though it was next to impossible to find a copy in Chapters--the headquarters of the new Index of Prohibited Books.
As to all the idiots who grouse about delivery and take swipes at Levant or the Standard...

---have some class!

Posted by: Gus | 2007-10-11 10:58:21 AM

Sad to see the print edition go, though as an Eastern Canadian Conservative (a Newfoundlander), I was a little put off by the "Western" moniker.

I'm not happy about the vacuum this leaves (though I'll keep reading the website, and hope you can get advertising there), as EVERYTHING we get out here is left wing garbage.

Posted by: Stephen | 2007-10-12 6:01:22 PM

Au revoir.

Amazing and discouraging that a successful venture can fail. And, in your case, more so because the failure is undoubtedly due to the very things The Western Standard stands (well, stood) against.

Delighted you're continuing on line.

Posted by: Norton | 2007-10-12 6:07:22 PM

Ezra, you're smart, informed and you think on your feet. I've heard you speak and debate and it's encouraging and inspiring! I was like, "Who is that? What's his name?" The Conservatives need your smarts Ezra. Please take your awesome team and make some lemonade in the political arena!!

Posted by: Leone | 2007-10-12 6:16:02 PM

Wow! what a great week. First Ted Byfield then the Western Standard. Looks like God does punish the wicked.

Posted by: Mildred Pierce | 2007-10-12 6:42:35 PM

Sick sicko, mildred.

Posted by: obc | 2007-10-12 6:44:50 PM

I was truly saddened to see that the Western Standard will no longer be published. We have been subscribers since the beginning and I looked forward to receiving our latest edition in the mail. It was the only magazine I would actually read cover to cover.

I would really like to see Ezra think again about getting into politics. How about a crack at Mayor Ezra? We could certainly use a challenger.

Posted by: Bev | 2007-10-12 6:48:33 PM

I'm disappointed to hear of the inability to continue publishing the print version of WS. I first subscribed to AR when I was 14. At 32, I still faithfully followed the WS. I only wish now that I had gotten my own sub rather than reading someone elses. My sincere hope is that this is a sign not that conservatives are decreasing but that they want to see something even MORE conservative than the WS. Oh, and to those of leftist persuassion commenting here, why do you only champion rights and freedoms (especially of speech) if they don't contradict your very narrow, institutionalized, subsidized, liberal and usually indefensible viewpoint? It seems to me that to take up a liberal cause you don't have to be able to prove your case, only to make an assertion really loudly and get other non-thinkers to join you. It's precisely to counter this type of muddleheaded closemindedness that we need media like WS. Best of luck with the new venture.

Posted by: Dan G | 2007-10-12 6:58:52 PM

The end of an era.

To all who participated in the output of the Western Standard.

I am really sorry to see this disappearing from the news stands.

It was a breath of fresh air and it will be missed.

Hopefully Mr. Levant, you and your companions in this venture, will find another way to publicly express your opinions and as such bring us up to date about the good and the bad of today's society.

I will follow your battle with the "Human Rights" commission, which has got to be the most ridiculous Institution in this land.

My best wishes to all.

Hans van der Woerd

Posted by: Hans | 2007-10-12 7:05:42 PM

PS: If this was a liberal site, you'd only see one perspective posted. The fact that Mr. Levant has not edited or erased comments rejoicing over the demise of the WS is akin to the battle ground of liberal and conservative ideas: conservatives can let their arguements and ideas stand on their own rather than outlawing, editing or silencing the opposition.

Posted by: Dan G | 2007-10-12 7:05:46 PM

Very sorry to hear this. I read it first on Steyn's site. I have no regrets about having supported the magazine and Ezra in his fight with the so called human rights commission. I only wish I could have done more.

Posted by: Ron Turley | 2007-10-12 7:06:00 PM

Keep at it. The worm will turn. 50 years of Secular Humanist confusion and misplaced compassion can not stand against the truth of reason and conscience. Mike

Posted by: Mike Hamilton | 2007-10-12 7:10:25 PM

i'm brand new to this blog stuff because i only thought of reading the Standard. now that that's done and i've essentially just now discovered The Shotgun, i hope this little blog keeps going.

there are some smarties around here, and it's cool to relate with you guys. and especially cool to slaughter the trolls and lefties with logic. too bad it's so easy. :(

Posted by: shel | 2007-10-12 7:21:06 PM

>:) heh heh...

Posted by: shel | 2007-10-12 7:23:20 PM

I'm a lefty, but this is sad to see another paper bite the dust.

Werner, pop a pill or meditate. It seems like you're about to blow a blood vessel.

Posted by: Dwayne Allan | 2007-10-12 7:32:01 PM

"to those of leftist persuasion commenting here, why do you only champion rights and freedoms (especially of speech) if they don't contradict your very narrow, institutionalized, subsidized, liberal and usually indefensible viewpoint?"

That's because classical liberalism is all but dead. It has been replaced by Stalinism, where the opposition must be eliminated entirely, even to the point of labeling their opinions as "hate speech" in order to legally silence them - or to totally discredit them personally, rather than argue with their salient points of view.

As a previous poster pointed out, their hate speech has not been censored here - but just try to post a conservative opinion on the Leftoid sites - or even on CTV's comments section - and you will be made to disappear. Like the official pictures of the Soviet Union, certain "traitors" were brushed out in later years.

Posted by: obc | 2007-10-12 7:45:57 PM

No biggie. I haven't read a print of this, or any other, paper in a long... long time.

This is the digital age, baby! Keep up the great work Ezra, et al.

Posted by: Wayne | 2007-10-12 7:46:16 PM

I'm sorry, Ezra. I renewed my Alberta Report subscription for two years right before they went under. I sent Western Standard a cheque for the next two years a couple of months ago. Guess that was the kiss of death.

For anyone who read Don Martin's column it's up to us to show that, unlike Monty Python's parrot, we're not dead yet.

Posted by: Dave | 2007-10-12 7:55:43 PM

To all commentators:

First of all it is indeed sad to see the demise of the WS - at least for the time being.

May I suggest some decorum in this debate - for peculiar reasons this ought to concern the liberals more so than the conservatives. I have observed that most liberals are not very liberal unless forced to do so - they are far removed from the peace loving efforts of a Ghandi, Mandela of Havel. What could be the reason for this? Are they all so full of hate that they cannot see that we are all in this thing together.

We have to move away from blaming the other side and move to look for the fault in us. When we focus on philosophical rather than political ends we will be able to attract thoughts to that end. Instead of bickering over politics let us discuss philosophical logic as it was done at the time of Plato - and yes, let's by all means apply it to the political field.

It stands to reason that our fascination with democracy (as practiced at the moment in Western countries - with the exception of Switzerland) will ultimately leave our societies depleted and corrupt. Perfection does not exist but allowing a country to be run by the opinions of everybody is throughly inefficient and will bury us all in the long run.

While not without human fault, the conservatives generally are more caring individually while the liberals prefer to let the state organize their lives (we know the results of such folly from the examples of Hitler, Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, Milosevich, Saddam Husein, etc. etc).

The term "political correctness" is in itself a dictatorial assumption as it disposes of anything different as incorrect and it thus simply arrogates to itself the attributes of God Almighty (of course I realize this is not a polticially correct term).

While this subject cannot be exhausted in this contect, I believe everyone will get the drift.

Posted by: Peter Rayfield | 2007-10-12 8:13:27 PM

I'm not a subscriber, but the email seems to suggest that the Western Standard won't be giving subscribers refunds for undelivered issues of the magazine:

"I regret that means we will be unable to fulfill our oustanding subscription obligations, and for that I'm very sorry."

It's kind of funny the much pillored New York Times refunded people when Times Select was made a free service again, but that the supposedly capitalist, bureaucratic free Western Standard won't do the same.

What's so hard about refunding people the money they sent you for something you didn't deliver? I would think people could take this up with VISA.

If I've misunderstood, my apologies.


Posted by: Adrian Pocobelli | 2007-10-12 8:24:24 PM

to Adrian Pocobelli:

I cannot speak on behald of the WS - but perhaps I can shed some light on this situation:

The New York Times did not go into receivership and so there were plenty of funds available to refund subscribers to Time Select.

My impression is that the WS ran out of funds and so is not able to refund subscription payments. Perhaps Ezra can comment on this issue for better understanding.

Posted by: Peter Rayfield | 2007-10-12 8:58:48 PM

Thank you Mr. Levant for trying, at times I believe the apathy of the “silent majority” will be the downfall of our democracy. I do hope you can find the fortitude to continue the Western Standard via the electronic medium and do get back into the political arena Ezra. There are many people who support your Conservative values and opinions. And to all those lefties I say that right wing is not a dirty word nor are those of us who hold democratic conservative values scary people. Thanks again Ezra and good luck.

Jim Phelps

Posted by: Jim Phelps | 2007-10-12 9:16:55 PM

Your sudden print demise is disconcerting.

Those who signed up for the long term should be granted unlimited access to your emag!

Ted Clarke

Posted by: Ted Clarke | 2007-10-12 9:17:13 PM

It is interesting that you print every lousy remark - would that happen anywhere else????
I hope you keep your online presence, varied voices most assuredly are needed!!!

Posted by: lori | 2007-10-12 10:55:43 PM

I'm wondering if a simple increase in the subscribtion cost would make up the 20% shortfall in profitability. Personally a 20% increase to the subscription cost wouldn't turn me away.

Posted by: Norman Wiebe | 2007-10-12 10:58:38 PM

Thank you Ezra............

Posted by: Martin Ellacott | 2007-10-13 12:03:01 AM

I am disappointed to not be receieving any more mags, but it has been a good run.

Thank you, Ezra Levant, for supplying us with this valuable service. I would say that The Western Standard was even more entertaining than Ted Byfields Alberta Report, all those years ago.
(and I liked that mag too, even if I wasn't much a conservative back then.

Posted by: Darryl | 2007-10-13 12:47:07 AM

Oh, and it was the Danish cartoons that motivated me to support your fight with a subscription in the first place.
Not that the internet doesn't give more than enough for us to read, but it is good to see a publisher with guts enough to buck the trend.

Posted by: Darryl | 2007-10-13 12:49:53 AM

"Small minds concern themselves with people. Medium minds concern themselves with things. The best minds concern themselves with ideas." I can't remember to whom this old quote is credited but it suits this unfortunate event well. To small a percentage of the population have the better minds and then a few of them are among the left wing elite, and more behave that way to profit from the perceived direction of the wind.
Have you not noticed that successful publications have a lot more material for weaker minds regardless of the right or left leanings of the serious articles which they occasionally slip in. A purely leftist publication would fail also if it only published solid sustenance for thinking people as you did for us in the Western Standard. I can't find a magazine which puts forward the Left's ideas honestly, logically and consistently as you did for the Right. However I could tolerate nothing less from a magazine which I would call mine.
Thanks for the effort and good luck with your future endeavors. Put more of this kind of writing into books a few of which should be novels of the George Orwell variety.

Posted by: Chris Hansen | 2007-10-13 1:41:13 AM

Good for you, for staying true to basic principals of freedom and democracy throughout the term of the magazine.
You did the right thing to publish the WS, and when it wasn't making a profit, you did the right thing to shut it down.
You never compromised, and very few can say that.
Ezra, you can be proud of what you and the staff and investors have accomplished.
We'll miss the magazine, it's true.
We can't wait to see what's next!

Posted by: Don Sharpe | 2007-10-13 7:10:30 AM

i can't say i'm surprised at your demise. as a good conservative I even bought a copy of western standard for our local library. it was always a well thumbed copy. however as a retired salesman/sales manager I was surprised that when I called your office on a couple of occasions with suggestions on how to increase your sales I was met with studied disinterest. I hope that those responsible for this attitude are now looking for a job. your mag was a welcomed voice in media desert. i shall miss it. if a canadian conservative mag arises I will once again subscribe and also offer my services as an unpaid sales consultant
tony walker

Posted by: tonywalker | 2007-10-13 8:24:50 AM

I will miss the magazine, but it was wrong to solicit and then accept my renewal in May when you must have known what was coming based on projected ad revenue for future issues. So much for ethics. My mistake was to renew early. I could have taken that money and put it toward a longer subscription to The Spectator, which has been around since 1828 and shows no signs of disappearing any time soon.

If the WS still has an Internet presence, then there is still a company carrying on business. It hasn't gone bankrupt. It is presumably making money off its advertising on the Internet. So why shouldn't it pay its print subscribers?

Posted by: Tim Jaques | 2007-10-13 8:52:00 AM

I am very dissapointed that I will not longer be able to find my favourite magazine in my mailbox. I've subscribed for a number of years, was a supporter in that I recommended the magazine to several of my friends, who subsequently subscribed.

Thank you for a magazine that articulated my thoughts and feelings on the Politics of today and society in general. I will miss Ric Dophin, Mark Steyn and Colby Cosh.

It is my hope that we will have another print edition in the near future to continue the tradition you have started.

Posted by: Wade Pearson | 2007-10-13 10:17:25 AM

A commenter above attributed the demise of The Western Standard to the apathy of the "silent majority."

Actually I think almost the opposite is true.

I contribute and support (small amounts but meaningful to me, and none have been returned as insufficient) all sorts of causes and campaigns and candidates and magazines-newsletters.

I didn't renew my subscription here (my current subscription was still running, but the currency change actually made it somewhat "expensive") in part because it seemed the magazine was doing fine, and I had only subscribed in the first place because of the Mohamed cartoons and the lawsuit (which I contributed to defend) attack upon you.

I KNOW my opinions, based on formal education and lots of life experience.

It is ONLY because the "main stream media" does not anywhere provide even nearly normal commentary that I go all out of my way to support and nurture such publications as yours which present the "other side" (my side) before it disappears from view, for those young folks who are still getting their education and life experiences.

More commonly I DROP subscriptions as they change from information and take on propagandist status (e.g. The Economist, The Christian Sceince Monitor, and now The Wall Street Journal).

The magazine MUST have a core purpose, e.g. how to fix and get parts for Toyotas, etc. and THEN have an underlying free market philosophy and editiorial page and columns (at least that's my opinion based on - duhhh).

I do also subscribe to some magazines which have a core purpose which is outside of my own major interests in order just to access the underlying philosophy, but mainly I'm pretty utilitarian.

I wish you guys well and am very supportive but concerned regarding the OnLine only continuation of your mission, mainly because this is such a fluke that I've ever gotten "involved" in such a forum.

Posted by: Conrad-USA | 2007-10-13 11:20:16 AM

I'm so sorry your excellent magazine has folded! I live in the US (Texas) and always read it from cover to cover. It's fascinating to compare Canada's politics to America's, and the Western Standard gave many good insights.

Ezra, my main source of Canadian news now will be the show "Squeeze Play" on BNN, where I first heard of your magazine. (Amanda Lang is a great host and co-host Kevin O'Leary is an unabashed capitalist.) You were a guest and talked about publishing the Danish cartoons.

Best of luck and I hope we get to hear more from you soon in a future publication.

Posted by: Gralee Parr | 2007-10-13 11:31:47 AM


Posted by: Clara Robert | 2007-10-13 4:52:33 PM

Hate to see any Canadian voice silenced - whether I agree with it or not....

Posted by: Wolf | 2007-10-13 6:12:56 PM

Seriously, what's with all the ugly, negative comments about the ending of a very necessary magazine? Can't handle the truth, you miscreants? Go listen to the fairy tales of the mainstream media. Just do us all a favor. Don't vote!

Posted by: Khiri | 2007-10-13 6:26:45 PM

Khiri ~

That's the true nature of these Leftists. They claim to care and be compassionate - but they are classical hate-filled Stalinists who are happy to silence any opposition to their world view.

Posted by: obc | 2007-10-13 6:31:33 PM

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