The Penticton Herald
Saturday, January 24, 1997
(Southern Exposure)
page 1

Oliver council considers litigation

Apology for 'hate' accusation unsatisfactory, says Larson

by Scott Pattison

OLIVER -- Controversy continues to swirl around recent statements made by the Wiesenthal Centre's Sol Littman who called Oliver the "Hate Capital of Canada".

In response to Oliver Mayor Linda Larson's outrage over his comments, Littman offered a written apology to this South Okanagan community. In a letter to Larson dated Jan. 19, Littman states: "I can readily understand why the good people of Oliver, British Columbia, would be upset at having their town characterized as the 'hate capital of Canada', and I have no hesitation in apologizing to the citizenry for having described the town in that way."

"I consider it obvious the whole community could not be held responsible for the sins of one Internet provider and his clients. I am sure you are aware that in common parlance, the use of the term "capital" as in "Apple Capital" or "Wine Capital" does not imply that all citizens in the area are engaged in growing apples or tasting wine. It simply means that it is a hub ..."

Littman continues, "Unfortunately, through no fault of the vast majority of the citizens of Oliver, a single Internet provider, located on the outskirts of your town has allowed Oliver to become the hub of hate messaging in Canada."

"As good people who despise bigotry, it is up to you, the town council and the good citizens, to express your concern. It would go a long way to show your true spirit if you were to join me in petitioning the Attorney General of British Columbia in calling for the prosecution of FTCNet (Fairview Technologies of Oliver) under Canada's federal anti-hate provisions".

Asked if Littman's apology puts an end to the issue, Larson said the apology was more "like a lecture", than an actual apology.

"We held a special council meeting to assess it", said Larson, who came to the defence of her community in media reports that were broadcast across Canada. "His letter is one line of apology and the rest is pure self-righteous lecture. He was arrogant and condescending. There aer two separate issues here; 1. A proper apology for labelling an entire community as racists; 2. The actions of a private businessman."

Larson said she has had many telephone calls and letters of support from across the country.

"I had one gentleman bring me in a letter that he was sending to the Wiesenthal Centre. He was Jewish, and in his letter he said, 'It was a sad day to be a Jew. We as citizens can't take the law into our own hands. That's absolutely unacceptable", said Larson.

Oliver council was still considering further action for Littman's "slanderous attack on 9,000 innocent people."

"Our council has not ruled out the option of pursuing legal action on behalf of our community residents against Mr. Littman and the Wiesenthal Centre."

MLA for Okanagan-Boundary Hill, Barissoff said he contacted Attorney General Ujjal Dosanjh and was awaiting his response.

"This has been going on for 18 months, said Barissoff, who is anxious to find out if legislation exists to deal with the Fairview Technology situation. "There has got to be a line there."

In a recent e-mail, Fairview Technologies owner Bernard Klatt responded to the recent hurricane of negative press.

"Isn't there some sort of law that makes it a crime to supply false information to the Attorney General in an attempt to get a criminal conviction against an individual? Just curious."

Copyright © 1998 by The Penticton Herald. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.