Welcome Blazing Cat Fur readers..(more pictures over there).and thanks for the picture, Arnie! I couldn't get into St. Peter's Basilica with the sleeveless look though. We were so packed into that hotel ballroom, I had to dispense with my jacket.
The Canadian Centre for Policy Studies---a great new conservative think tank based in Ottawa--sponsored a sold-out fundraising dinner paying tribute to Ezra Levant and his battle to restore freedom of expression in Canada. Mark Steyn, another great champion of our inherent, God-given rights and freedoms, gave the keynote address.
Ezra's battle began when he was among the only North American publishers to reprint the Danish cartoons. Then he faced complaints from a Calgary Imam at the Alberta Human Rights Commission. He did not start out with any grand principles in mind.
"I was just mad," he said. "I was just trying to run a little magazine."
Mark Steyn spoke of the advice he had received from a lawyer friend who told him, after he and Maclean's Magazine faced human rights complaints, to just be quiet and let the process work its way through. Then he spoke to Ezra who told him to "go nuclear."
"It took Ezra going all Magna Carta on Jennifer Lynch's Medieval ass," he said.
Anyway, it was a great reunion of many friends and bloggers who have been in the trenches in this ongoing battle. Among the bloggers present were Five Feet of Fury, Blazing Cat Fur (the latest one to face a law suit), Free Dominion, Stephen Taylor, Gay and Right, Dr. Roy, and VladTepesBlog. Barrel Strength has a report here.
Joseph Ben-Ami, the executive director of the Centre for Policy Alternatives, assured everyone that he was not leading a conspiracy by the Christian right to take over the Canadian government, Marci McDonald's book notwithstanding. Joseph is an Orthodox Jew, btw.
Spotted at least two MPs present, some Conservative staffers, the lovely Andrea Mrozek of ProWomanProLife.org. She also works as a communications and research director for the excellent Institute of Marriage and Family Canada (IMFC). IMFC executive director Dave Quist and his wife Mary-Ann were there and sat with me and my friend Dr. Barbara Powell who has also started blogging at Celiac Brain, for those of us who are gluten intolerant. Dr. Barb also has a more general blog for interesting information you may not find anywhere else.
Here are some photos. You know who you are!
Oh yeah, Sun Media was there in force---they bought a whole table. My friend Brian Lilley was there with his lovely wife Barbara. Also author Brian Lee Crowley and his lovely wife.
Fr. Raymond de Souza spoke of how he first met Ezra back in high school when they competed against each other in an essay contest. He said some kind of phrase that I can't recall, but it was similar to "I'll be darned if I was going to let him win."
"That was before I became a priest."
He did win the contest, so he needled Ezra about being a better writer.
It was interesting to see what a wide-ranging coalition of small-c conservatives were present, including Catholics, Evangelicals, Jews, Muslims, gays and non-religious folks who are of a more libertarian bent.
More over at The English Catholic.
Dr. Roy has more pictures here.
Mark Steyn has more links. He writes
~Tomorrow's the big night in London, Ontario: I'll be at Centennial Hall for an evening of non-municipally approved fun and frolics with "a lot of surprises":
Mark Steyn Live In London!
Head For The Hills: Why Everything In Your World Is Doomed
Monday evening November 1st 2010
Centennial Hall, London, Ontario
More details here. In the latest offering from The London Free Press, Vasco Castela says "Steyn's rhetoric is not good for anyone." Meanwhile, Mohammeds Against Steyn comes out against the "merciless fate" of hosting the hatemonger, while Sun Media's Brian Lilley suggests that my getting bounced from the London Convention Centre is the equivalent of a pop record getting banned by the BBC. You can see me talking with Rosemary Barton on CBC News about the London gig, the Conrad Black appeals verdict, the US midterm elections and various other matters here - Rosie and I start gabbing about an hour in, or you can cut to the chase and see me here (I like the way I'm billed: "Mark Steyn's Canada Tour will also hit London, Ont & Calgary" - like a particularly destructive hurricane, or terrorist atrocity).
I'm thrilled to hear that people are coming from as far afield as Cleveland and even California, and I'll do my best to make it worth your while. If being in favor of free speech now gets you marked down as having "controversial personal views", you might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb - or, indeed, for the full herd of sacred cows. So I promise to feast on them all. I believe there'll also be industrial-scale book-signing at Centennial Hall, courtesy of Indigo/Chapters. (I do hope my old pal Heather Reisman assigns the shift to this particular store clerk.) And Alexander of Hollywood will be there selling his exclusive Head For The Hills T-shirt. Canadian Islamic Congress members in attendances may find the whole thing charmingly reminiscent of a bazaar in Jalalabad.