Volume 92, Issue 61

Friday, January 15, 1999

intruder alert


City council in hot water again

Hustler yanked by stores because of contest

Memorial millions

Snow paralyses Toronto and area universities

Power a stress buster at work

USC/CUPE contract under negotiations


City council in hot water again

By Dave Yasvinski and Mark Brown
Gazette Staff

London Mayor Dianne Haskett is involved once again with the Ontario Human Rights Commission, but this time she's not alone.

A human rights complaint has been launched by the European Heritage Group against the City of London and the 13 city councillors who voted in a unanimous decision to revoke a proclamation for a European Heritage Week.

Six London councillors are not named in the complaint because they were not present at the vote, explained controller Orlando Zamprogna, who was one of the six.

Zamprogna explained the European Heritage Week decree was revoked in an emergency meeting because the council did not support the aims and goals of the proclamation, adding there were concerns the group had racist ties.

"[The Ontario Human Rights Commission] decided to send it to the city as a formal complaint," Zamprogna said. He added the city and councillors are now in the investigation stage of the complaint.

"Anyone can file a complaint. Before we have investigated the matter and found sufficient evidence to send it to a board of inquiry, we don't talk about it," explained Francois Larsen, manager of communications and public education for the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

"The code protects every citizen in Ontario. If he or she feels they have been a victim of discrimination and there are grounds, they can file a complaint. Whether they are successful or not is another matter," Larsen said.

Martin Weiche, a member of the heritage group and the one who filed the complaint, said he is doing this to establish his rights as a Canadian citizen. "They had no legal right to remove it.

"We wanted to have everyone realize that we have a European heritage," Weiche said. He added the group gathers every Thanksgiving Day to celebrate.

Weiche said one of the outcomes he would like to see from the complaint would be for the city to publicly apologize and place a one-page proclamation in The London Free Press at their own expense.

"I've never been convicted by the hate law," he said.

The six councillors will now become the decision making members on this matter, Zamprogna said. "It's not pleasant," he added.

"Those named have declared a conflict of interest stemming from the fact that we are not speaking to our council colleagues about how the case goes," Haskett said.

Zamprogna said it was not clear if the council would join together to fight the complaint.

The last human rights complaint, which was over Haskett's decision not to proclaim a gay pride weekend two years ago, cost the City of London over $70,000, Zamprogna explained.

Weiche said if they receive the proclamation now he would have it framed with Haskett's picture beside it.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999