The Vancouver Sun
Friday, January 16, 1998
pages A1,A2

Gag hate site, Victoria urged

by Glenn Bohn

An international human rights group wants Victoria to use anti-hate laws to stop certain kinds of messages on the internet.

Messages like that on a comic-book-style website depicting Jews as rats. The website was among material from 22 sites released Thursday by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre.

The sites are serviced by Fairview Technology of Oliver, previously identified by The Vancouver Sun as an Internet service provider for 12 white supremacy and hate sites.

Sol Littman, the Wiesenthal Centre's Canadian director, urged B.C. Attorney-General Ujjal Dosanjh to lay criminal charges against Fairview owner Bernard Klatt.

Sergeant Rick McKenna, one of two police officers on a hate crimes team set up by Dosanjh last April, said he can't say yet what police will do.

The hate crimes team provides intelligence and advice to local police forces, but doesn't conduct its own investigations.

"As with any police agency, we look at the complaint and determine what steps have to be taken", he said.

McKenna, who is with the Vancouver city police, said he has received the Wiesenthal Centre's material, along with a letter of complaint to Dosanjh.

Dosanjh is out of the country and not available for comment.

But after a meeting of federal and provincial attorneys-general in December, the federal government indicated that hate crimes and child pornography would be the subject of a public consultation program in the near future.

Littman said he has been involved in human rights issues since 1955 and was shocked by the comic book-style website because he said it was deliberately aimed at children.

The web site accuses Jews of attempting to destroy white, Christian governments to take control with such things as urban renewal programs.

"Finally, it accuses the Jewish people of standing for civil rights and liberties, and being concerned about the civil rights of blacks, because this is a plot (to) mongrelize the white race", he said.

"If this isn't convincing hate stuff, I don't know what is."

David Cohen, dean of the University of Victoria's law school, agreed with Littman that the hate crime provisions of the Criminal Code can be to fight hate on the internet.

The federal law makes it a criminal offence - punishable by a maximum prison term of two years - to communicate a message that wilfully promotes hatred against an identifiable people, unless it's a private conversation.

"There's no doubt that what you've just seen - and is available, in my view, to far too many people - is a communication", Cohen said of the material released by the Wiesenthal Centre.

"It's not a conversation between Mr. Klatt and a personal friend. This is a broadcast."

Fairview Technology referred an interview request Thursday to Klatt's electronic mail address, but Klatt offered no response to the call for charges against him.

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