Mayoral hopeful Gordon Warren's remark sparks police probe
Blogger's comment about Mayor Sam Katz is anti-Semitic, says B'nai Brith Canada
Winnipeg police are investigating mayoral candidate Gordon Warren over a comment he made last week that some say was anti-Semitic.
When Warren registered as a candidate on Thursday, he wrote on his blog and to local media outlets, "My mayoral campaign is the final solution to the Katz question."
To many, the phrase "final solution" is a reference to the Nazis' planned mass murder of Jews during the Second World War.
"I think it's implausible to say he meant something else," said David Matas, a Winnipeg lawyer and a senior counsel for B'nai Brith Canada.
"The Nazis used a euphemism for the Holocaust: the final solution. And, of course, Katz is Jewish."
Warren told CBC News he is not anti-Semitic, adding that his blog post was referring to a Winnipeg Free Press column from April 21 titled, "The Katz question: will he run for mayor?"
"It was not my intention to imply it [genocide] in that context — I did not imply genocide," he said.
"I was merely implying Sam Katz won't be around in six months. That's not genocide, that's politics."
Warren apologized for offending anyone and has changed the wording on his blog from "the final solution" to "a definitive answer."
"It was an oversight; it's my mistake, it's on me," he said.
Lawyer wants ban on racist candidates
But Matas said an apology is not enough in this case. He wants the City of Winnipeg to ban political candidates who make hate-based comments.
Matas said Canada has signed United Nations' International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and Canada has an obligation to prevent racist activity, not just treat it as a criminal offence.
"In my view, somebody who runs on a racist platform should be disqualified from running," he said.
Warren has been under investigation in the past for posters he had put up around downtown Winnipeg, expressing criticism of Katz and some prominent Jewish Winnipeggers.
Warren acknowledged the previous police investigation, but said he does not anticipate officers visiting him again this time.
"I know the difference between free speech and a hate crime," he said.
St. Vital Coun. Brian Mayes said Warren's comments are disgusting but he thinks there is a better way to handle the issue than banning the candidate.
"No one supports these crazy views of his, but there is a freedom of speech argument to be waged here, I think," Mayes said.
"The best remedy here is to let him be a candidate and then the public can pass judgment on that."
Voters go to the polls on Oct. 22 to elect a mayor and council.
With files from the CBC's Sean Kavanagh