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Politics

Former Director of The Rebel Named Conservative Party Campaign Director

Steve Bannon, anyone?

by Billy Eff
Oct 19 2017, 4:40pm

The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick

This story first appeared on VICE Quebec.

After publicly distancing himself from The Rebel during its August meltdown , Andrew Scheer and the Conservative Party of Canada have appointed one of the far right site's former directors, Hamish Marshall, as campaign manager for the 2019 election.

This is not the first time that Marshall has contributed to Conservative Party. He was Scheer's campaign manager during his successful leadership race and was Stephen Harper's internal pollster during the 2008 election. The Oxford-educated strategist is friends with Scheer and, by all accounts, is well-liked in Tory circles.

However, it is Marshall's significant ties to the Rebel that most people will want to focus on and something that the current leader of the party seemingly doesn't want to answer to. On Monday, Andrew Scheer was holding a press conference when he was asked about Marshall's connection to the Rebel. At this point Scheer abruptly ended the presser and took no more questions.

Scheer, like many Conservatives, distanced himself from The Rebel after their coverage of the events in Charlottesville, Virginia this summer, in which a demonstrator was allegedly murdered by a white nationalist in a car attack.

In her coverage of the demonstration, Faith Goldy of The Rebel praised, among other things, the pseudo-political manifesto of one of the organizers, Richard Spencer and appeared on a neo-Nazi affiliated podcast. After her appearance on the The Krypto Report—which is connected to the infamous Neo-Nazi site the Daily Stormer—where she, among other things, joked about Nazi salutes, Goldy was fired. Afterwards there was an exodus of a number of high-profile contributors from the Rebel amid searing criticism that the site was complacent in the spread of white nationalism.

The Rebel has ran stories several stories regarding "white genocide," one of the far-right's biggest rallying points, and runs, seemingly non-stop, stories with strong anti-Muslim biases. During the Rebel's collapse in August, one former employee (on the condition of anonymity) told VICE News that if facts got in the way, "they were ignored."

"As long as they're willing to say things about Muslims, he'll put money into it."

Hamish Marshall told the National Observer in 2015 that he was "not involved at all in the content production and editorial side of things. My involvement is on the business side." However, a simple search reveals that he wrote a few articles for them. (His title is listed as "Rebel contributor.) While he was running Scheer's campaign, Marshall, according to the Globe and Mail, for a time worked out of the same office as the far-right organization.

In mid-August he told Macleans he was in the midst of cutting ties from The Rebel as he had some "business issues that need to be resolved" but his name stayed on a list of directors until well into September. Rebel Leader Ezra Levant told the Globe and Mail that Marshall didn't work on any editorial content but instead worked on the technical side of things as the "IT boss."

Hamish Marshall links to right-wing interest groups go far back, and go beyond his tenure at the Rebel. Marshall, an Oxford graduate, specializes in technology. One of these companies, Go Newclear, does business with the Ethical Oil association, a so-called "grassroots movement" that is fighting for the interests of the major oil companies operating the prairie oil sands.

Ethical Oil is a organization that is based on a book by Levant, creator of The Rebel. The organization was co-founded by Alykhan Velshi, who worked for the Harper PMO for nearly three years, initially as a blog to promote the book in 2011. (Velshi is now chief of staff to Patrick Brown, the Ontario PC leader.)

You're probably wondering why it should matter to you that Hamish Marshall is the campaign manager for the next election. When he was elected to the leadership of the Conservative Party in what many considered an upset over Maxime Bernier, Andrew Scheer was able to count on significant support among socially conservative Christian groups and the Canadian alt-right propelled by The Rebel. It's not dissimilar to what was seen during the last presidential election in the United States, where a well-educated right-wing media director named Steve Bannon became the the senior advisor to Donald Trump, a candidate so ridiculous that no one believed he would be able to win.

No one thinks Andrew Scheer is ridiculous, which means if Marshall can tap into some of that Bannon black magic, the Conservative's could put up a real fight against Justin Trudeau in 2019.

Billy Eff is on the internet here and there .

With files from Mack Lamoureux

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