Oliver Chronicle
Feb. 16, 2000, front page

Crown drops case against Klatt
by Kathleen Wilson

Criminal charges will not proceed against former Internet provider Bernard Klatt and Fairview Technology Centre.

The decision was made after it was determined sufficient evidence did not exist to continue with charges of willful promotion of hate against an identifiable group on the Internet, Senior Crown Counsel Myron Claridge said Friday from his Vancouver office.

Investigation of Klatt and his Oliver-based FTC began in 1997 after complaints were received from local groups and a "particular individual," said Claridge.  At the time, it was alleged his [customers] website carried links to sites promoting neo-Nazism and white supremacy.  Claridge, working with the RCMP Hate Crimes Unit, said "secondary and tertiary" links to hate material could be found from Klatt's [customers] website, but conceded the links were not directly tied to Klatt.

"Whatever had alleged to be on the site was no longer there...[or may not have ever been there] There was no evidence of a direct link to hate propaganda," he said.

However, the material from the secondary and tertiary links, mostly to American sites, was determined to be hate propaganda under the Canadian Criminal Code.

"But we couldn't tie it to Fairview Technology and Mr. Klatt and show any willful promotion of hate of identifiable groups by either Klatt or his company," Claridge added.

Klatt did not respond to a request for an interview for this article.

The matter gained international attention after Sol Littman of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre called Oliver "The Hate Capital of Canada" and accused Klatt and FTC of providing links to many of the most outrageous white supremacist websites in the world.  A "free speech" rally was organized in the town by other proponents of ideas many consider to be anti-Semitic, with invited speakers including out-spoken columnist Doug Collins, lawyer Doug Christie and former teacher Paul Fromm.  The rally fizzled, [after the CJC pressured town council into canceling the room rental] with fewer than 50 people coming out to hear the speakers - and at least half of those were local and national media.  More than 100 local residents gathered on the other side of the street to quietly protest the presence of the men and Klatt's website in the community.

But even without criminal charges, Claridge stressed the investigation resulted in benefits to the public.

Evidence too weak in Klatt case
"The Attorney General has made some strong representations to the federal minister to make changes to the Criminal Code.

"And the Hate Crimes Team has worked on at least two papers that recommend changes to the hate propaganda section to bring the Criminal Code up to a more relevant standard reflecting Internet and computer generated crime," said Claridge.

He said a recommendation is also under consideration that would force Internet providers to keep logs of all links from their sites. [.. truly bizarre!  Is Claridge considering criminalization of external links to unapproved web content?]

"That would have been to our benefit in this case," Claridge commented.

"We've had positive feedback from the federal government that there would be amendments to the Criminal Code in the near future, so that the whole matter hasn't been a complete loss."

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