Monday, March 06, 2023

Chronicles of Ezra: Ah, that secure portal thing.

At this point, I need not elaborate on why Ezra Levant's 2016 Indiegogo fundraiser, ostensibly for the wildfire victims of Fort McMurray, Alberta, was such a disingenuous and unmitigated disaster -- I've detailed that more than enough so let's just summarize for what is about to happen here.

If, back in 2016, you wanted to donate to the Red Cross for that cause, donating directly had every conceivable benefit, as in:

  • There was no "processing fee"; what you donated is what arrived at the Red Cross.
  • What you donated was available instantly to the Red Cross, which meant that not only was your donation usable right away, but as long as you donated during the month of May, 2016, your donation was automatically available to be matched both federally and provincially, effectively tripling its value.
  • The generation of tax receipts for donors who wanted them was automatic, requiring no human intervention on the part of anyone at the Red Cross.

None of the above is debatable. Compare this to the ridiculous drawbacks of Ezra's vanity fundraiser:

  • All donations lost five per cent to Indiegogo's processing fee, even Ezra's vaunted $10,000 initial donation (which turned out to not be a donation after all).
  • Donations were not available to the Red Cross immediately, since all that money was required to sit in the Indiegogo account until weeks after the fundraiser ended.
  • Because of the delay in getting access to the funds, Ezra was forced to "front" the money to get it matched and, even then, he fell far short in fronting the entire amount, thereby screwing the Fort Mac Red Cross out of well over $100,000.
  • Generating tax receipts involved dumping a pile of work on some poor sap at the Red Cross, who had to do all of that manually (and, yes, I have the evidence for that).

All of the above is documented and beyond contestation, which inspires one to ask, why would Ezra -- given the obvious benefits of encouraging people to donate directly to the Red Cross -- choose to register his own vanity fundraiser with all of its flaws? And here's the answer.

Narcissism and profit.

You see, if all you do is send people to the main Red Cross donation portal, well, it's hard to brag about it afterwards (and the fact that Ezra desperately wanted the glory and accolades for his alleged humanitarianism will be the subject of another thread), because in encouraging people to donate directly, there is no official record afterwards.

On the other hand, if you stupidly choose to compete against the Red Cross by registering your own Indiegogo page, well, there's your chance to brag and preen and strut about your incomparable humanitarianism and charity and compassion for your fellow citizens, even while boning them out of over $100,000 simply because of your overweening vanity. So is that it? Can we accept that Ezra's financially unwise decision to register his own fundraiser page was, in some way, necessary just to satisfy his overwhelming ego? Actually, no, and this is the new part that I don't believe I've written about before.

Because, you see, that entire time, Ezra had the ability to have the best of all possible worlds; that is, all the benefits of an official Red Cross donation portal, and still get the chance to puff up his chest about what a wonderful human being he was.

It's called a Red Cross "secure portal," and it was available at absolutely no charge to people who want to encourage donations, but also want to do it in a "branded" way so they can take a bit of credit and also have a record of total donations they've driven to the Red Cross. Here, let me give you some examples.

Here's Concord Pacific's secure portal from back then, where you can clearly see that they raised $1950, and also got to tout their own horn just a bit:

And here's Unifor, getting the same chance to talk about themselves while showing how much they raised:

I have screenshots of numerous others but I think you see the point -- if Ezra's only motivation for registering his own competing fundraiser page was to be able to stroke himself in public, well, that opportunity was already there, and he chose to not take advantage of it. Understand something: every Red Cross secure portal had every benefit of donating directly to the Red Cross, while also allowing the registrant to brag about themselves just a wee bit.

Let's say this again so there is no misunderstanding -- Ezra Levant had every opportunity to satisfy his prodigious ego and get all the benefits of direct Red Cross donation at the same time ... and he chose to not do that, with disastrous financial consequences for the Fort McMurray Red Cross. Which inspires the obvious question ... why? Why, given every possible advantage associated with a Red Cross secure portal, would anyone stupidly choose to not take advantage of that and instead register an inferior-in-every-way Indiegogo fundraiser page? And there is, in fact, an answer.

Because a Red Cross secure portal does not allow one to collect donor information.

That's it ... that is the crucial difference.

Despite an Indiegogo page being inferior financially in every aspect to a Red Cross secure portal, it had the sole benefit in that it allowed Ezra to hoover up all that precious donor information and subsequently monetize the shit out of it, many tens of thousands of dollars lost in the process be damned.

That's what this was all about: Fuck it if your approach wipes out over $100,000 of donations to wildfire victims, as long as you can get your hands on all that sweet, sweet donor info.

And now you know.


Anonymous said...

What if Ezra claims that he just never heard of a Red Cross secure portal? Isn't that kind of a defence for him?

CC said...

Anon @ 5:23 AM: That's theoretically possible, but it opens up all sorts of embarrassing admissions Ezra would have to make when I question him under oath.

First, he would have to admit that, despite what he's implied over the years, he registered his fundraiser without the knowledge or permission of the Red Cross, who absolutely would have encouraged him to use a secure portal.

More to the point, it would do nothing to justify his constant misrepresentation of his fundraiser, when he *promised* that 100% of donations would be turned, and all of those donations would be matched as well -- neither of which turned out to be true.

If he wants to claim ignorance, he's welcome to do that under oath, especially if I can show that he knew about secure portals ahead of time and chose not to use one.

MgS said...

My only thought here is that one thing Ezra has always been amazingly good at is coming up with just enough bullshit to baffle people on the spot. He was like that back as a student at UofC, and given the general nature of his business enterprises since, I doubt that's changed.

... and while he has resigned as a lawyer, he's still got that training which enabled him to get through a good many years of questionable activity both as a lawyer and as a political activist. I wouldn't underestimate his ability to buffalo the guy on the bench in trial.