Toronto Star

Mar. 26, 08:34 EDT

Fry ignores calls to produce mayor's letter

The Toronto Star

OTTAWA (CP) - A letter that Hedy Fry said tipped her off to cross burnings in a B.C. town remained a mystery Monday, as the junior cabinet minister ignored calls for the document to be tabled.

Fry, secretary of state for multiculturalism, said last week that crosses were being burned in Prince George. She said the mayor of that city had written to her about it.

Later, she apologized for the remarks, and said she had been mistaken about the city, but would not explain how she made the error.

Alliance MP Dick Harris, whose riding includes the city, said Fry has been caught in a lie and should resign.

''The fact is that we believe that this minister deliberately fabricated a story about a letter,'' Harris said.

''I am asking her: Was there ever any letter, from any mayor, about any cross burning incident in any city in B.C.? Was there a letter, yes or no? Will she produce it? If not, will she admit it was a fake statement and resign her position?''

Fry, whose office did not return calls Monday, would only respond with the same statement she has been making since her remarks last week.

''I made a mistake about Prince George and I apologized, and that's that,'' Fry told a crush of reporters that followed her to her waiting car.

The head of the RCMP's hate crimes unit in British Columbia and the president of an anti-racism group said Fry had contacted them over the weekend to ask for information about recent incidents.

NDP MP Peter Stoffer said he has received calls from concerned constituents even in his Nova Scotia riding.

''The damage to Prince George is incredible,'' Stoffer told reporters.

''It's a disgrace what she has said in this House and it's simply scandalous that she can continue evading this issue.''

In response to Fry's mistaken allegation, some Alliance MPs have insisted there is no racism whatsoever in their cities.

''There's no racism in Kamloops,'' said MP Betty Hinton. Fry made a similar allegation about cross burnings in that B.C. city four years ago.

''I don't think there are any racists. We have a diverse multicultural society. We all get along very, very well and we have groups of people in Kamloops that make sure that continues.''

That contradicts the message from provincial hate-crimes watchers who say that discrimination and overt racism is alive and well.

As recently as last May, provincial police said they were tracking the movements of a small group of young men seeking to resurrect an Aryan Nations chapter in Prince George.

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