Regina City Council is in full damage control mode this week after learning that it was duped into declaring a "European Heritage Week" by an infamous white supremacist group.
In July — at the request of one Bob Smith, Mayor Michael Fougere signed a proclamation setting aside a week in mid-October for the 'special' distinction.
But after being told, by a reporter, that Smith is a member of an extreme right wing organization called the Nationalist Party Of Canada, Fougere is appropriately backtracking.
"We made a mistake, I admit that," Fougere told the Regina Leader Post, noting that the pitch letter mentioned nothing about the Nationalist Party of Canada.
"It’s being a bit underhanded, a bit unfair to us."
The City has also written to the NPC asking it to make no mention of the Regina declaration on its website.
"The City of Regina does not condone racism or hate in any form but rather takes great pride in and celebrates the diversity of all cultures and recognizes all ethnic backgrounds and their contributions to Regina and Canada’s history."
Yes it might have been "unfair" but City Council dropped the ball on this one.
A quick Internet search reveals that Smith writes a pro-racism blog on the NPC website and has close ties with Don Andrews, the head of the organization.
Andrews, who is also a self-described racist, ran for the mayoralty of Toronto on several different occasions.
Here's an excerpt about him from a 204 article in the Walrus Magazine:
Andrews had emigrated from Yugoslavia in 1952; he later used money he made as a landlord to bankroll a steady stream of racist propaganda, which led to his conviction in 1985 for spreading hatred. By then, Andrews was a fixture in the white supremacist movement in Canada
The Internet search also shows that Andrews and Smith have been trying to get city councils to declare European Heritage weeks since the 1990s.
In 1998, London, Ontario's city council passed then rescinded a motion declaring a "European Heritage Week" under similar circumstances to that of Regina.
In 2005, in Kingston, Ontario, City Council was saved of embarrassment when one councillor actually did his homework prior to a vote.
[ More Canadian Politics: Stephen Harper slammed for attending partisan events during northern tour ]
And in 2008, the City of Simcoe, Ontario had to backtrack on their declaration with one city councillor suggesting that Smith didn't have any "balls" for being upfront with Council in the first place.
In all, according to Canadian Press, six cities across the country have been fooled by the NPC.
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- Politics & Government
- Regina City Council
- Nationalist Party Of Canada
- Michael Fougere
- City Council