A twelve hundred strong audience of conservatives and libertarians of all stripes packed the John Bassett Theatre of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre Tuesday night for “Steynamite,” an event headlined by internationally-renowned conservative commentator Mark Steyn. Steyn was introduced by National Post editor Jonathan Kay, who promised the expectant crowd that the evening would not be a “political gabfest” but a “free-form fusion conservative jamboree.” Steyn did not fail to deliver.
The evening kicked off with several prominent conservative media figures riling the crowd. Krista Erikson of Sun News Network, one of the evening’s sponsors, drew cheers for her lengthy list of CHRC violations while promoting what she described as the “fearless” political coverage of the Sun News Network. Michael Coren of Sun News’ The Arena and author of the newly released Heresey: Ten Lies They Spread About Christians was up next, warming up the crowd with witty one-liners poking fun at Margaret Trudeau “warming up” the Rolling Stones and a spirited defense of Christian beliefs in the public square.
The evening seemed to take an surprising turn when Erikson unexpectedly announced that former Vice President Dick Cheney, who had originally been slated to headline the event before cancelling due to a fear of protestors, had actually decided to appear. A Dick Cheney impersonator appeared on stage moments later dressed in full hunting gear and waving a rifle to peals of laughter from the audience. The hunter swung the rifle over his shoulder and it “discharged,” felling Michael Coren. The hunter then pulled off his mask to reveal a grinning Mark Steyn.
Steyn’s performance was equal parts outrage and humor, taking the audience on a roller coaster of “apocalyptic side splitters.” The “human rights violations” began immediately, with Steyn noting that it had recently been “take your child bride to work day” in Kandahar and mocking incessant shoving of “awareness days” down the collective throats of Western society. He then proposed to deafening applause that April 24 become “Individual Liberty For Free-Born Citizens Day.”
A string of outrageous anecdotes followed, detailing the liberty-crushing and censorious bureaucracy of Western civilization at twilight, interspersed by the occasional song and comedic sketch. The crowd fluctuated from audible gasps of anger at revelations of increasingly common practices such as female genital mutilation to howls of laughter as Steyn “went Magna Carta” on the Human Rights Commissions by defiantly belting out his own rendition of “Kung Fu Fighting.”
Memorable lines such as “tyranny is always whimsical” and “this situation isn’t nuts, it’s just evil” satisfied ticket purchasers’ anticipation for classic Mark Steyn and drew consistent rounds of applause. At one point, Steyn sang his very own hit song “My Sharia Amour” to his “third wife,” an actress clad in a burqa. The sketch was punctuated by Landmark Report editor Andrew Lawton dressed as “Imam Mohammed al Muhammed bin Mohamed” giving Steyn advice on how to beat his wife, a tongue-in-cheek reference to a recent multicultural selection in a Trudeaupian Toronto bookstore. The sketch brought down the house.
The evening closed with Mark Steyn giving a Canadianized version of “New York, New York” (“York, York” a reference to the original name of Toronto) and bowing out to thunderous applause. Hundreds lined up to have their volumes signed by Coren and Steyn after the event.
The attendees left entertained and inspired to fight for liberty in an increasingly hostile environment. The event organizers did not say whether or not they expected human rights complaints to be filed as a result.