Vancouver Province

Racist web site carrier shutting down

by Gary Symons,

OLIVER, B.C. (CP) -- Oliver's unwanted reputation as the hate capital of Canada' will end next week when Fairview Technology Centre shuts down as an Internet provider. FTC has been targetted by human rights organizations for providing internet access for racist and white supremacist groups. Sol Littman of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre branded Oliver the Hate Capital of Canada due to the company's internet service.

Owner Bernard Klatt argued he was only providing a service and not advocating the views of his controversial clients. But Klatt's company made Oliver the centre of a controversy over censorship on the Internet.

Now the company is closing its doors.

Klatt was not available for comment, but Dan Hidlebaugh of Valley Internet Providers confirmed his company will be taking over Klatt's dial-up customers on Monday. Hidlebaugh was quick to say his company will not be providing internet access for any of Klatt's web site customers.

"We're going to take over their customer base, but only dial-up customers", said Hidlebaugh. "We're not taking their web sites (because) I'm not interest in getting into that."

While Oliver town councillors were relieved Oliver will no longer be the "hate capital", Councillors Bill Ross and Gordon Hahn defended Klatt.

"I would like to believe it was an issue of principle for Mr. Klatt", said Hahn. "It's always too bad when someone loses their business, but as you say, maybe he took his chances and lost the poker game."

Ross agreed.

"Due to some strong principles he had, I guess he's out of business. I'm pleased to hear the web sites are shut down, but it's unfortunate it cost a man his business."

Ross said he believes the company's closure will end the negative attention showered on Oliver.

"As long as there was something to be bantered about by the racists and the anti-racists that tag would probably stick", Ross said. "But take away the source of the controversy, and the controversy will end.

"And hopefully, it's the end of the hate capital of Canada."

Copyright © 1998 by The Vancouver Province. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.