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January 10, 2012

Mr . Gordon

Norrie, Publisher & CEO

The Calgary Sun 2615 12 St. NE Calgary AB T2E 7W9

Dear Mr. Norrie ,

January 10, 2012 Mr . Gordon Norrie, Publisher & CEO The Calgary Sun 2615 12 St.a l Proudl y s erving a gr e at c it y " id="pdf-obj-0-19" src="pdf-obj-0-19.jpg">




Thank you for taking the time to speak with me last week .


I am writing to you to express my extreme disappointment with respect to the publication of the article in the Toronto Sun, the Calgary Sun and other QMI papers entitled " All Means All" by Ezra Levant, starting on Saturday, December 31,2011. This article followed an appearance by Mr . Levant on Sun News TV where he called me a "bigot", "anti-Christian" and "socialist" and gave out my email address on air. Sun News Network continued to quote this on several of its show s. The article has also been quoted by other media outlets and other groups .

There are a number of serious problems with this column, given that it is based upon a number of assertions that are untrue:

First, I did not order the City Police to arrest Mr. Pawlowksi . Your paper should be fully aware that the police are under the control of a civilian police commission and no politician in thi s country has the power to order the police to do anything. I am shocked that your editors do not appear to understand this basic

fact. Indeed, I did not

even know of this

incident until

after it had occurred .

Second, I have been fairly sympathetic to Mr. Pawlowski ' s group. In fact, prior to this incident , I had suggested to the City Manager that the City allow Mr . Pawlowski to use the atrium on special occasions

provided that he

completed the same paperwork that every other group (including groups from Christian ,

Jewish and Muslim communities) must submit. Despite repeated warnings from City Staff, Mr. Pawlowski

refu sed to obtain

the necessary approval s.

Third, Mr. Levant misquotes the appeal judge in his column . His quote from the judgment is actually the argument that the judge rejected. One would expect that a lawyer like Mr. Levant would know how to read a judgment.

Fourth, this column accuses me of "anti-Christian bigotry".

This accusation is so offensive and so untrue

that there is no need to elaborate on it. It is impossible to ignore the racist under - tones of this column . The article states no le ss than four times that I am a Muslim in support of Mr . Levant's assertion that I am anti -Christian. How many times did the Sun mention that Jason Kenney is Catholic in reporting on his

statements about the niqab?


Sixth, the column contains a gratuitous (and need it be said, again untrue) swipe at my personal life and the fact that I look after my elderly, unwell parents . This has nothing whatsoever to do with the rest of the column.

  • I have no problems with a columni st

voicing his opinions . However, when the columnist makes factual errors in

support of his opinion and accuses me of being a bigot, then I have a very big problem .

On the first issue, I am

particularly disappointed in the response that I received from the editor-in-chief, Jose Rodriguez, who suggested

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that columnists are somehow free to write whatever they want, even when it isn't true . This was certainly news to me, as a long-time freelance columnist myself. I suspect it would also be news to your lawyers.

Further, calling me a bigot on television and in OMI papers across the country is offensive, disgusting and personally insulting . This column is defamatory and is highly damaging to my reputation. My life's work has been about bringing people from different communities together to make our country a better place.

I am not particularly interested in escalating this issue. However, I cannot stand-by and let OMI defame my character without a response . As we discussed, in order to bring this matter to a quick resolution, I will require the following :

  • 1. OMI will fully retract the column on the basis that it was factually inaccurate, and apologize for calling me a bigot. The retraction must include the following:

    • a. An unqualified statement that the statements in the article were untrue and had no basis whatsoever in fact.

    • b. An unqualified apology and a statement that there is no evidence whatsoever that I am a bigot of any kind.

    • e. An acknowledgement that this is part of a pattern of behaviour by Mr. Levant (see, for example, the retraction published in September 2010) and an undertaking by OMI that his work will be rigorously fact-checked in the future.

    • d. A clear statement that opinion columnists are not in fact exempt from the requirement to write the truth.

This retraction must be published in all OMI newspapers on the highest-circulation day of the week. It must be further h ighlighted on all Sun newspaper and Sun New Network websites, and the column in question, as well as the video clips of Mr. Levant ' s interview with Mr . Pawlowksi, must be removed from all OMI online properties.

  • 2. OMI will publish an unedited response from me, if I choose to submit one . The response must be prominently placed in the paper and published on the same day as the retraction. It also must appear on­ line and in each OMI paper that printed Mr . Levant's column .

Should OMI fail to retract the column and apologize, I will not hesitate to explore all of the options available to me.

Finally, on a personal note, I cannot hide my disappointment. This community expects institutions like the Sun to be leaders in public discourse rather than trying to tear down the community we have all fought so hard to build.