Ezra Levant needs to brush up on the Five Commandments

With the #BoycottTims movement in full steam, on Friday conservative activist Ezra Levant held a rally in downtown Calgary to protest the Tim Horton's decision to pull insanely anodyne Enbridge ads in response to a far-left group funded by billionaire American George Soros.

As the rally was starting, a curious thing happened: the media kept tweeting how media outnumber the ralliers. That literally never happens. Here's an Edmonton SUN article that shows a rally consisting of exactly eight people (Les Hagan, far-left fascist from Action on Smoking and Health, sits in the middle and doesn't count). Notice that nowhere does the article give you any idea that this rally is a couple activists paid for by their unions. Yet that rally literally gave way to Minister Chubby's anti-menthol announcement the very next day.

I wasn't entirely surprised that the rally wasn't a huge turnout-event. There were 27 Facebook confirmations, apparently, and somewhere between 30-50 people showed up. Yes, even when numbers are this small, politics plays a role in the crowd estimation process. Regardless, the turnout was fairly decent by protest standards, though the media had and will do their best to downplay it.

The problem is, and he's is particularly bad for this in general, but the problem is that Ezra Levant violated the Five Commandments of Conservative Rallies. I understand a lot of readers may be hearing this concept for the first time, so allow me to summarize.

Commandment The First: Conservatives Shall Not Rally
Not showing up to riot is a failed conservative policy says Catherine McMillan, and she's absolutely right. Conservatives tend not to show up to protests to nearly the degree that leftists do. Mostly this is because we aren't a brainless and easily-swayed mob, marching out like Zombies to chant "Rachel" or "No Blood for Oil" or any of the other goofball slogans that the left cling to. In fact, one of the hallmarks about a bunch of right-wingers getting together for a rally or march or any event is how poorly any attempt to drum up a chant or a specific slogan to say. The problem is that most of the right are very critical and independent thinkers, not just interested in picking up a union-written pre-manufactured sign and yelling slogans of alternating hate and hope in a display of groupthink that would make George Orwell turn beet red if he witnessed. As a result whenever you see right-wingers rallying, mentally multiply the crowd by a factor of 500 to figure out how many left-wingers would be out at were it one of their rallies. Ezra therefore erred in having the rally in the first place: it would always look mediocre compared to a rally held by leftists, especially since he wasn't paying any of them to show up like the unions do.

Commandment The Second: Conservative Rallies Shall Be On Weekends
Ezra's second mistake was having the rally on a Friday afternoon. Another problem with conservatives rallying is that the target audience are all industrious and hardworking people who work full-time (and often beyond) at real life jobs in the real life private sector. Unlike the lazy unproductive losers who inhabit public sector unionized jobs (and even private sector unionized jobs), they can't just tell work that they'll be taking the rest of the day off to go protest a coffee company's policy of advertising on their in-house TV network. I'm not meaning to minimize #BoycottTims in any fashion here, but in all honesty there's no way that almost any political cause is as important as staying at work and getting paid money and not fired. Again, lazy public sector unionists can just leave at any time to go rally: they put it in their contracts for Christ's sake. This is because leftists aren't actually worth having at work, they can disappear for hours and life goes on. Conservatives have real jobs that they have to remain at during working hours or all hell breaks lose. The sheer uselessness of liberals ensures that a weekday rally will always favour them. Rallies that involve conservatives need to take place over the weekend.

Commandment The Third: Thou Shalt Provide Suitable Notification
Early on Friday afternoon, one of my coworkers came to my desk in a huff, in desperate need of somebody to join him for golf tomorrow. I was about the eighth person he'd asked, and after me was the ninth and tenth who all said no. The reason? We all had other shit on the go. You can't just recruit us on Friday afternoon to play golf Saturday morning, especially not on the morning after a Stanley Cup Final game is being played! Likewise, Ezra planned this event on Thursday evening and held it at noon on Friday. Conservatives tend to be pretty active folks even on our days off, and even for leisure. We have golf tournaments, camping passes, lake trips, quad trips, 4-H events, all sorts of kids events and family commitments. Unlike liberals, who I think lay about playing PS4 and waiting for a rally where they can smash stuff (more on that in a minute), Conservatives can't just leap into the Prius and drive down to protest the latest outrage en masse, even if (as per the First Commandment) they actually were interested in doing so.

Commandment The Fourth: Remember the Television Cameras, and Keep it Interesting
Partly because of the First Commandment, a conservative rally ends up being really really boring television. It's a bunch of well behaved people standing in a group, maybe some signs, some speeches they will applaud during and after, and then they will neatly file off leaving no trace of their presence. As the Tea Party showed in the US, conservatives don't even leave litter behind after a rally. This means that the visiting media don't have angry chants to film, they don't have violent conflicts with police to put themselves dramatically between, and they don't have the photos of burning bank tellers. Basically there's nothing there to generate a lot of column-inches, unless you can find a way to make the event more visually interesting. Typically you need counter-leftist protesters, but in this case that won't be possible since the protesters don't actually drink at the coffee shop they'd placed the demands on.

Commandment The Fifth: Honour Thy Church
Finally, the best way to get a right-wing protest to take place is to involve the real (ie. not mainstream) churches right from the get-go. This probably wouldn't happen in an oilsands-defending protest like this one, but it certainly helped when one of the largest rallies in Canadian history took place on Parliament Hill in May. (Of course, the media made it about two naked women instead. At least it met the Fourth Commandment. Otherwise CTV would have followed CBC and Global's lead and not published the story about the rally at all. You get the feeling that had 2500 people showed up at Ezra's Calgary event the CBC would figure out a way to bury the story behind a Nenshi cat retweet or something.)

I think these five commandments can be summed up in a single phrase: "Don't. Just don't." Because the turnout/aggravation ratio for conservative events is so much lower than it is for liberal events, and because the nature of the rally makes it easier for the media to ignore (if you're lucky) or ridicule (if you're not), you're generally better off not having the rally at all. Conservative activism in Canada works best in the "Quiet Revolution" sense. It's how the CWB and C-68 were killed in the past half-decade. It led to the birth of the Reform Party, was encapsulated in Ralph Klein's "Martha and Henry from Rimbey" gag, and helped eliminate the federal deficit. It has been the avenue for successful cultural and political change from the right for decades, and it's the best avenue to put pressure on Tim Horton's to change their affiliation with the Tides Foundation and Margaret Atwood.

Trying it leftist style, with an angry mob at Tim's, just won't work. As Kate said, conservatives don't show up to riot, and it's failed us in the past over and over. Better to accept that and work around it then try to fight a leftist bonfire with a conservative BIC lighter.