Volume 92, Issue 28

Friday, October 23, 1998



Heritage group set to file rights complaint

By Dave Yasvinski
Gazette Staff

London's City Council could soon face another human rights complaint after rescinding a proclamation to a group associated with white supremacists two weeks ago.

The proclamation, which was granted to the European Heritage Week Committee, was revoked unanimously at the last minute, after the Canadian Jewish Congress informed council of the group's ties to supremacists.

"Anybody can file a complaint, what happens after that is another issue," said Francois Larsen, manager of communications and public education for the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Larsen added any potential complaint must meet certain criteria to even be considered.

Don Andrews, leader of the Nationalist Party and director of the committee, said the party feels they have been embarrassed and discriminated against by London's mayor and city council. "They don't like us or our views so they won't have the idea – even if it's good for the population."

Andrews added the committee is looking for vindication and, at the very least, an apology. "If I don't have the right to say things you don't want to hear, I don't have freedom of speech."

Bernie Farber, executive director of the CJC, Ontario region, said he was happy council rescinded the proclamation and does not think this complaint will see the light of day. "If it weren't for the mayor and deputy mayor, London would have been the only city to join hands with a neo-nazi organization," he said.

The likelihood of this complaint being filed is slimmer than the Padres' chances of winning the World Series, Farber said. He added he was aware the World Series is over.

However, if a complaint were to be filed the CJC would work arm and arm with London offering as a public service all their expertise on the hate movement, Farber said.

Joe Swan, councillor for ward two, said he is pretty sure the Canadian Charter doesn't even provide opportunities for complaints of this nature. "[The committee] looks for the recognition and supremacy of one race over another," he said.

Most complaints deal with people or groups looking for inclusivity, not exclusivity, Swan added. "To be quite honest the academic community needs to step up to this one. This line needs to be drawn clearly."

Swan said the academic community needs to help guide and direct the local government through this state of uncertainty. "The silence at Western is deafening."

Western political science professor Andrew Sancton said he could not possibly imagine what the expected response might be. "This is a city hall problem, I wouldn't expect people who are busy and doing research to immediately inject themselves into city business."

Andrews said the committee expects to have the complaint filed this week.

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Copyright The Gazette 1998