Fougere said he proclaimed the event in mid-July believing it was a celebration of European culture and history in Canada. He retracted the declaration Tuesday after a CJME reporter informed him the event is connected to the Nationalist Party of Canada, whose leader, Don Andrews, was convicted in 1985 of communicating racial hatred.
“We made a mistake, I admit that,” Fougere said, noting that a letter was sent on Tuesday to Bob Smith of the European Heritage Week Celebration Committee in Toronto. “But once we realized what it was, who they were, we absolutely want nothing to do with this group at all.
“It’s being a bit underhanded, a bit unfair to us,” he continued, saying Smith’s request was professional and made no mention of the Nationalist Party of Canada.
The organization’s website on Tuesday carried a post on its home page that congratulated Fougere for the declaration, as well as urging “white nationalists to write words of congratulations to the City of Regina and to the Mayor’s office.”
Fougere’s letter to Smith, however, forbids the group from publishing the event in association with the City of Regina.
“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,” said the letter, which was obtained by the Leader-Post. The Toronto address on the letter is the same as the address on the party’s website.
Fougere said city staff will take more care in the future when researching groups requesting that the city endorse an event.
The City of Regina is not the first Canadian municipality to be “hoodwinked”, as Fougere said, by the organization. Over the years, the cities of Victoria, Halifax, London, and numerous other small towns have declared, then rescinded, European Heritage Week.
Anita Bromberg, national director of legal affairs with the Jewish association B’nai Brith, said it was “disappointing” that the City of Regina became the latest in a string of Canadian cities that was duped by Smith.
“Many a city has been requested to pass these proclamations, and sometimes they fall for it and sometimes they do their research,” Bromberg said. “They’re a white supremacist group. They promote themselves as protecting European heritage, but the European heritage that they’re talking about is white-only.
“I have to give (the City of Regina) a low mark for researching it, because it doesn’t take much to dig, to see who’s promoting it,” she continued. “And the names that are behind the group should have raised all kinds of alarm bells.”
All 300 Jews in SK can rest easier now.