Globe and Mail

Go, Dr. Fry

The Globe and Mail
Saturday, March 31, 2001

Hedy Fry will do anything to apologize for her lapse of judgment except own up to it.

The Secretary of State for Multiculturalism has been revealed as a politician so desperate to score points about racial hatred that she will conjure up an imaginary event and invent a letter as supporting evidence. She has shown herself so reluctant to take responsibility that she will duck all requests to say why she did it, even as she repeats a rote apology that explains nothing.

The minister has lost all credibility. How much longer will it take her to do the honourable thing and resign from cabinet? How much longer will it take Prime Minister Jean Chrétien to do the honourable thing and require it?

Dr. Fry's immediate offence was, in response to a prepared question on March 21, to tell the Commons that discrimination is alive and well in Prince George, B.C., "where crosses are being burned on lawns as we speak." Challenged by reporters, she said she had a letter from Prince George's mayor to back her up and would be glad to send them a copy. There was no copy; there was no letter; the RCMP has no record of any cross burnings; the mayor, Colin Kinsley, says he never said anything of the sort. He wasn't impressed with the subsequent letter of apology he received from Dr. Fry, either. "Sadly, in my opinion, rather than clear up the issue and present the truth, it merely clouds it further."

That flight of fantasy was not even Dr. Fry's first. Four years ago, she told The Edmonton Journal that "it disturbs me that, in rural B.C., crosses are burned outside Kamloops." They weren't.

We cannot read the junior minister's mind. We do not know why, in a country that often grapples with genuine hate crimes, the fit came upon her to spin incidents and locations out of thin air. We do not know why she pretended to have a letter, or why she has remained mum about whatever sprites talked her into that bizarre falsehood.

We do know one thing. It's a rare person who can make even the fight against intolerance look bad. Dr. Fry does not belong in her post, and should resign without delay.

Copyright 2001 Globe Interactive, a division of Bell Globemedia Publishing Inc.