Globe and Mail

POSTED AT 5:02 PM EST Friday, March 23

Opposition keeps up heat on Fry

By SHAWN McCARTHY
Globe and Mail Update
The Globe and Mail

Ottawa — Opposition MPs kept up the heat on Liberal multiculturalism minister Hedy Fry Friday, saying the minister lied about a purported racist incident in Prince George, B.C., and has delivered only a half-hearted apology.

New Democratic Party MP Svend Robinson said Ms. Fry, the Secretary of State for Multiculturalism, has set back the anti-racism cause by carelessly tarring an entire community.

"I believe in fighting racism. I want to have a minister in that portfolio who has credibility and respect this minister has totally lost all credibility and respect and she can't possibly be effective in the fight against racism and the fight for human rights," Mr. Robinson told reporters.

Ms. Fry sparked a firestorm on Wednesday when she answered a question in the House of Commons on anti-racism by suggesting that, as she spoke, people were burning crosses on lawns in Prince George.

After outraged Canadian Alliance MPs demanded an explanation, Ms. Fry returned to the Commons to say that she had been mistaken in saying the cross-burnings were happening as she spoke, but that she had been referring to a recent incident.

The minister said she had been contacted about the incident by the mayor of Prince George and praised the town and its council for for combatting such incidents of racism.

However, town officials said there never was a cross-burning there, and there was certainly no letter informing Ms. Fry of such an event.

On Thursday, Ms. Fry apologized for linking the city of Prince George with the incident but refused to answer reporters questions about whether such an incident ever occurred.

In the Commons Friday, Prince George MP Jay Hill said Ms. Fry should be removed from her job.

"The truth is that the minister fabricated this slur," Mr. Hill said. "When will the Prime Minister begin to hold ministers accountable for their repeated intolerance?"

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