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Sunday, December 09, 2007

New plans for westernstandard.ca

As our readers know, we stopped publishing the Western Standard print edition earlier this fall.

Over the last few weeks, we've been shutting down our operations and preparing our final financial statements. As our subscribers will soon discover, we've made arrangements with Maclean's magazine to fulfill part of our outstanding obligations to our readers -- every Western Standard subscriber will get six free issues of Maclean's. That's six more Mark Steyn columns! Maclean's will also give our subscribers a special offer if they want to continue receiving the magazine. Every subscriber will soon get more information directly from Maclean's.

We've sold the Western Standard websites -- including the .ca site and this blog -- to a handful of our original team who want to make a go of it online. I'll probably blog from time to time just for fun, but I'll be moving on to other projects. Here's a note that we are sending out to our online readers:

Dear friends,

As you know, the Western Standard stopped publishing our print edition last month. But I'm happy to announce that one of the Western Standard's founders, Matthew Johnston, has assembled a small team of our former staff, and they're going to revive our magazine's websites.

Working with other long-time Western Standard staff like writer Kevin Steel and sales manager Josh Frederick, they're going to try to make a go of it online — and I wish them good luck. They loved the magazine and I'm sure they'll do a great job of the new venture.

I'm moving on to other projects, but Matthew and his team have invited me to continue to blog from time to time on the site, and I'm sure I will. So make sure to visit www.westernstandard.ca to see what the new team is up to — and keep an eye peeled for their e-mail updates.

Join with me in wishing them good luck!

Yours truly,

Ezra Levant

Finally, I should mention that the corporate entity that published the magazine still exists, and I am still president of it. The reason that's important is because we intend to fight the human rights complaints that have been filed against us over the cartoon kerfuffle. (Here's the hand-scratched complaint; here's our reply.) The formal "investigation" begins next month, and I'll be there.

Thanks again to everyone for their support over the years. Keep visiting the websites, including for news on our human rights complaint. They seem to be breaking out all over these days.

Posted by Ezra Levant on December 9, 2007 | Permalink


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I guess it's OK to share this e-mail I got from Kevin Steel now.

>>> No virus found in this incoming message.
>>> Checked by AVG Free Edition. Version: 7.5.503 / Virus Database:
>>> 269.16.14/1172 - Release Date: 12/5/2007 8:41 AM
(re: troll stealing obc's nic)


Thanks for the alert. I'll take care of this when I have an extra moment.

I'm tied up right now cleaning up the server.
This type of behavior will be coming to an end as we will be instituting drastic changes on the blog--for instance, registration.

I believe you had suggested this at one time.

Another change that will take place at that time; the blog will no longer be used as a chat room.
That means that the long conversations that take place there now will no longer be tolerated.

What do you think of the idea of WS setting up discussion forums?
I think this type of format is more appropriate for lengthy exchanges.

If we go that route, I believe the general tone of the discussions
will have to be raised.

~Kevin Steel


It's going to take some time and dough to set it up, so please don't
expect anything overnight. Ain't it always a matter of money and time?
But that's the way we want to go.


Posted by: Speller | 2007-12-09 12:26:38 PM

"I believe the general tone of the discussions
will have to be raised"

I guess this means most of your most sycophantic regulars will not be allowed to post? Or maybe just forced to take their meds first?

BTW, before I get falsely accused again, have you rechecked your logs to see that I didn't post as obc or as "observer"? You really should, although I think you really don't care about the truth here (as is the norm for the WS). But poor obc is being mislead by you guys ... again ... as usual.

Posted by: Fact Check | 2007-12-09 1:05:38 PM

As someone whose subscription renewal money went west (as they say) when WS folded this is better than nothing. But I cancelled my Macleans subscription a decade or so ago.

Posted by: yah weasel! | 2007-12-09 1:16:19 PM

Thanks Ezra, I enjoyed the mag while it lasted. I look forward to supporting MacLeans especially now that they are fighting the war on the jihad to take us over.

Great that this blog will be cleaned up and made more professional. A discussion forum would be a good idea to allow the conversationalists and insult hurlers a place to spew.


Posted by: John | 2007-12-09 1:17:26 PM

Ezra, I don't know what your next projects will be, but you've left a bad taste in this original Western Standard supporter's mouth. I haven't posted for months for the reasons below.

WS announced and required a monetary contribution in order to enter a writing contest of which, apparently, there was no winner announced, and now subscribers to WS are being offered six weeks of McLeans, when my decision a year or so ago was to cancel my subscription, etc., etc.

I think you have some growing up to do, young man, and some facing of the music to do. You can't keep running from one project to another, without being accountable to your subscribers.

This kind of ethic from a social conservative is deeply disappointing and disturbing and has me wondering what your core values actually are.

I wish you only the best at the hearings vis a vis the publishing of the Danish cartoons (which prompted my husband and me to resubscribe early to the WS, in order to support your defence). This issue should never have come before the Human Rights Commission.

BTW, I would never have posted comments like these if my personal e-mails to you over the past year had been answered. I think you owe it to your subscribers, especially ones who supported WS from day-one, to at least answer their queries.

Posted by: 'been around the block | 2007-12-09 2:52:08 PM

Hi there. We announced the winners, published their columns and paid the prizes. See here:


Sorry you didn't win. In return for the entry fee, everyone who entered was given an extension on their subscription or a gift subscription, which was worth more than the entry fee.

Posted by: Ezra Levant | 2007-12-09 3:02:16 PM

Registration will mean trolls won't be stealing nics or supporting themselves under other names.

I look forward to constructive discussion which will lead to creative solutions to real problems which are recognized by all posters rather than the bogging flame wars which have been the norm here because Leftists argue whether a problem, which is recognized by conservatives, even exists.

Ask not for whom the bell tolls, trolls, it tolls for thee.

(the troll alert was for the "Canadian ambassador to Iran expelled" thread at:
5-Dec-07 2:48:33 PM)

We had a Moby earlier in the thread as well.

Posted by: Speller | 2007-12-09 3:08:15 PM

I was very disappointed to hear that the magazine had gone under. Crestfallen, actually. I really felt like the magazine played an important function in Canada.

Even so, I am very glad that Matthew Johnston and Kevin Steel will be working together to rework the WS into a novel venture. Having known Matthew for a great many years now, I know that he will do a great job. Same with Kevin.

Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2007-12-09 4:58:21 PM

Ezra -

Unwinding a business venture and carrying the Goodwill accumulated over into a new venture is obviously complicated. I expect that it will all go well.

Your departure is unexpected, and as can be seen from "been around the block's" comment, there is a lot of emotional investment in "the movement" to take back your nation from the Leftists, with you personally as a prominent player (i.e. candidate).

I hope you guys will REALLY think and ACT big with respect to every part of these next steps.

You should ALL take on the attitude of the NEW Canadian Leadership, both as opinion leaders and as actual elected leaders.

I think that it might be a "reasonable" pre requisite for anyone connected with the Western Standard entity, that you should ALL run for and serve in SOME elected office, at all times!

Every public elected office is important (i.e. that it be done well), and it is also a LOT of work (if in fact it is to be performed well).

I see no reason whatsoever why you guys (I only remember one lady who wrote with you in the magazine - please pardon my memory), should not almost just ACT as though you were already a political party and already "in office" fixing the crazy Leftist excesses which will either be corrected or will destroy us all.

Best wishes, and thank you for making a forum to listen and learn and "speak" available to everybody (I'm optimistic even about the folks I disagree with, who post here)!

Posted by: Conrad-USA | 2007-12-09 5:32:18 PM

Conrad-USA - there is a lot of emotional investment in "the movement" to take back your nation from the Leftists, with you personally as a prominent player (i.e. candidate).

Levant is a neo-conservative, which in Canada is a fringe element of the Conservative party. While Levant may be appealing to crackpots like obc and Winston who threaten World War III if they don't get their way, he has little or no appeal in Eastern Canada which is where the Conservatives will get the majority they need to rule and be able to implement their policies. If Levant and his element were to become the dominant voice of Conservatives you would find the Liberals back in power very quickly. I say that as someone who has voted Conservative for years, Levant wouldn't get my vote.

Posted by: O'REILLY | 2007-12-09 6:05:28 PM

>I say that as someone who has voted Conservative for years, Levant wouldn't get my vote."
O'REILLY | 9-Dec-07 6:05:28 PM

Oh Really?
Your idea of a conservative would be Belinda Stronach, then.

You are a moby, oh really.

Posted by: Speller | 2007-12-09 6:15:31 PM

Speller - Oh Really?
Your idea of a conservative would be Belinda Stronach, then.

Jim Flaherty would be a good choice. And who's your ideal conservative, David Emerson?

Speller - You are a moby, oh really.

Speller has found a new word to use.

Posted by: O'REILLY | 2007-12-09 6:27:09 PM

Flaherty could't get elected to post office out west, Oh Really. Pick somone else.

Posted by: jt | 2007-12-09 7:00:26 PM

jt - Flaherty could't get elected to post office out west, Oh Really. Pick somone else.

If the riding of Whitby—Oshawa gets moved to "out west" he can worry about that then.

Posted by: O'REILLY | 2007-12-09 7:15:58 PM

O'Gotcha may or may not be a Moby - a term he is not familiar with - but he loves to play the GOTCHA game to buck up his inferiority.

He does bring to mind the word that follows Moby in most people's minds. :)

Posted by: obc | 2007-12-09 7:24:22 PM

A comment forum would work very well. I am currently involved in one (Helicopters / gyrocopters) . Information is clean and most often enlightening and educational. It is surprising how much talent is out there , a forum would give exposure to more conservative thinking in this country. We need it.

Posted by: Arnie Madsen | 2007-12-09 9:21:44 PM

FORUMS ... for those who are not familiar with forums I decided to give this link as an example for you to look at. It is aviation related , but I chose a generic subject for the sample (left handed pilots and control positions etc).

These type of forums require registration , they are free , content is usually good quality and helpful. Trolls are rarely a problem. Threads on a variety of subjects often continue quite a while.


Many thanks.

Posted by: Arnie Madsen | 2007-12-09 9:45:01 PM

Ezra, Hi there yourself.

Winning, or not winning, wasn't my concern. I never saw these winning entries in the WS, even though I was a regualar subscriber and even though I checked the WS blog, week in week out, to see the winners announced.

I e-mailed you a number of times to ask you about who had won, and never received a response. This is the first response I have got. As there are no dates attached to these winning entries, I would like to ask for those details: When/where were they announced, and what date were they published in the WS? Maybe I need to get after Canada Post for not delivering that issue. WS delivery where I used to live did seem to be spotty.

More than anything, what really irritated, was receiving no response to perfectly reasonable questins: Who won the contest and where/when will they appear in your magazine. A suggestion for next time if there is one: If there is a blog attached to the magazine, use it to announce contest winners.

Yes, I received two extensions to my subscription, one I asked to be applied to another person, but we can see where the extension has got me.

Please let me know the dates that these winners were announced, where, and when their articles appeared in the WS.


Posted by: 'been around the bloci | 2007-12-10 4:48:50 AM

Ezra -

May I add my voice to endorse "been around the block's" concerns.

My recollection is that "been around the block" is a woman, and my recollection is that she was 100% conservative, with the additional benefit of the insights that a woman brings to any intelligent discussion (i.e. provided that she is not a Leftist-Feminist-Atheist, etc.).

I do "recall" receiving a copy of the mag which included the winner or winners' entries printed out (it seems they were focused on fairly narrow topics?), but my suggestion with respect to "been around the block" is that a sincere-supportive reader's concerns (especially a female in a normal conservative venue, in this day and age) should get top priority response.

Of course my paternalistic pandering to "been around the block" will likely piss her off, but of course that wasn't my intention. My intention is to recover the nation of Canada and America from a collasal catastrophe of Communism via big government-Socialism and Atheisic destruction of the natural human family, both fed by Homosexual total selfishness spewed into the "minds" of females as a stupid self-destructive philosophy called Feminism.

Your correspondent, "been around the block" is one who could help mightily in that and every other good effort for Canada.

Posted by: Conrad-USA | 2007-12-10 10:00:46 AM

Dear Ezra, Kevin, &c:

I was a charter and terminal subscriber to the Western Standard. Although I am sorry to see it go, the market is the market. I thank y'all for its period of existence.

Thanks also for the MacLean's deal. Now that Ken, Mark, and Andrew are there, and the Standard is kaput, I've been thinking about taking MacLean's instead. I've given up on TV, and all but one newspaper, but I'd like to keep one Canadian events magazine, now I don't have one, and this arrangement should help me decide.

The main points of this comment are on the matter of future blog efforts. I first commented at the Shotgun on April 14, 2004, which if memory serves was within the first week of the Shotgun. Over the years I participated in over 200 Shotgun discussions, initially as Tony and then, when there got to be too many Tonys, as Vitruvius. I enjoyed many great thoughtful discussions here. I was also involved in the instructive cases of JG & PM.

Moreover, I posted a number of longish comments in favour of Ezra's commitment to free speech at the Shotgun. As David Warren explains in his latest column on the CIC / MacLean's affair, freedom of speech is of fundamental importance.

But by the summer of 2006 I pretty much gave up on the Shotgun, as did a number of old-time commenters who used to participate in thoughtful discussions here. They (we) are still around trying to write thoughtful comments at other blogs, but we are not any more here.


Consider the following analogy. A blog is like a pub, that is to say, a private house open to the public for the purpose of some pursuit. It's all well and good to say that this pub supports free speech, nevertheless, there are no successful pubs that do not have bouncers.

In a classic pub, everyone is free to order whichever drink they want (as long as they aren't breaking any actual laws). But if one or more people start coming in and spitting in drinks, even if it's not yours, then discerning drinkers are going to go elsewhere.

I have come to the conclusion, in part based on my experiences here at the Shotgun, and in part based on other on-line forums I have participated in since 1974 (sic), that if an operation is to be devoted to freedom of speech, then while it remains the case that one must be allowed to make any argument one wants to, it is not necessarily the case that one can make it any way one wants to.

There have to be house rules, not on the thesis being argued, but on the style of argumentation. If one does not wish to be constrained by the rules on the nature of the rhetorical forms that are considered by the house to be reasonable in support of one's dialectic position, then one can simply seek out some other pub where their style is supported, or start such a pub of their own.

It is my opinion that if one wants to foster intelligent discussions, especially in a non face to face situation like these virtual pubs, then there is indeed one principal rule that must be enforced: *** Don't Be Rude ***

This doesn't mean that one must never call anyone an idiot. It does mean that if one develops a reputation for calling everyone who disagrees with them idiot, then the bouncers will be brought into effect.

There are numerous other metrics by which the degree of consideration of the readers that is taken by a commenter can be measured. A bunch of one-liners without consideration of sentence or paragraph structure is inconsiderate. Great long collections of sentences without paragraphing is inconsiderate. I appreciate that those may sound trivial, and neither should be absolutely disallowed, yet it remains the case that considerate commenters don't usually do that -- that's not how humans read.

I certainly would look forward to a revitalized Shotgun where rampant sniping and drive-by shootings were rare. Should such an effort emerge, I will resume commenting there, and will encourage the old-timers I remain in contact with to return.

Perhaps it might be a good idea to open some discussion(s) here at the current Shotgun on the matter of the nature of the house rules that should be in effect in the future, along the lines of: the degree of attention to the putative topic that will be considered normative, the limits on the degree of so-called chatting that will be supported, as Kevin has mentioned, and some of the issues I have raised above.

I can also be reached via email at the address shown at the bottom of the page linked to below, should any of you wish to take up any of these matters with me outside the scope of this channel.

Once again, thanks for the legacy of the Western Standard. As long as I live, I shall never forget your expose of the Total Strong Power situation.

Yours, Vitruvius

Posted by: Vitruvius | 2007-12-10 7:30:38 PM

I've been thinking further, Kevin, about your comment on discussion forums. I think it would be a good idea for there to be a daily Open Thread, automatically created, along the lines of SDA's "Reader Tips" tradition, but more general. This gets rid of most of the "Off topic but..." comments.

I also think that there should be a menu of general topics, things that history has proved readers are interested in commenting on, with new comments appearing at the top. These should use some sort of threaded reading user interface, somewhat along the lines of what Steve Janke has been experimenting with. In this way, those who wish to go off topic on a specific subject can route to the forum for said of off topic and reference back to the specific subject.

Here's an interesting idea, though I don't know if off-the-shelf technology is available for it. Have a small team of volunteer part-time moderators, or referees, or bouncers. Moderators raise flags (like yellow and red cards) when they see potential problems, and if enough flags of enough severity are raised, the comment is bounced. But it is not deleted, and if anyone wants to read the thread with bounces included, there is a link to do that.

The beauty of that would be that if people are wondering what the moderators are doing, then can simply go to the bounces included view, and then of course discuss any issues they may have in the generic forum on what the moderators are doing. Who watches the watchers? Whoever wants to!

If I'm not mistaken, Speller, you and I discussed here a couple years ago some of the similarities and differences between blog comment threads and the history of UseNet news groups. I believe we concluded that an open news & discussion blog site has a lot in common with a mini-version of UseNet news groups. There are lessons to be learned there.

Oh, and a couple other things. I want to see ten to twelve word lines at reasonable font size in the comment view. I abhor 400-pixel wide canvases. And small popup windows for viewing comments. And I don't want registration to get in the way. I appreciate the pros and cons, but if it bothers me more than about, oh, say, once a week. I'm not going to like it ;-)

Posted by: Vitruvius | 2007-12-10 9:27:52 PM

I don't believe you, Merle, because you have provided insufficient evidence to support your claim, and in particular, you have done so in a fashion that is typical of the agent provocateur. I may be wrong, yet if it matters to you, it's up to you to convince me otherwise.

Posted by: Vitruvius | 2007-12-10 10:52:39 PM

(For the record, my previous comment was in response to a comment that is no longer there, and I understand why.)

Posted by: Vitruvius | 2007-12-11 12:52:34 AM

I am an original member who happily supported your efforts. I would like to thank you and your staff for providing a great product. Best of luck in all your future endeavors.

Posted by: pubmemb | 2007-12-12 6:00:48 AM

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