The Toronto Sun, Tuesday June 11, 1996.  Page 5.

They should ask hard questions

By Christie Blatchford

    Anti-Racist Action,  the  street-level  anti-Nazi group whose
tactics historically have been as violent and ugly  as  those  of
its targets, has garned support - including as much as $18,000 in
grants - from a variety of governmentand quasi-government sources
for its Youth Against Hate conference this month.

    The  sponsorships  comes  despite  the  group's controversial
reputation and the fact that  non  one  appears to know where the
mysterious conference, slated for June 22 and 23, will be held.

    Yesterday at the Trillium  Foundation,  which  is  the  arm's
length  funding  agency  of  the  Ontario Lottery Corporation and
which is kicking in  $8,000,  executive  director Julie White and
program manager May Wong readily admitted  they  don't  know  the
conference location.

    "The  issue wasn't where it was," White said, "but whether it
would be constructive."   Wong  added  that  she  had sent in her
registration to  the  ARA,  and  expected  to  soon  receive  and
information package, including the location, in the mail.

    At  the  access  and  equity  office  of  the  Metro  Toronto
government  yesterday,  where  staff  are recommending that Metro
approve an $11,000 grant from  a  special  $50,000 fund set up to
"combat hate activity," manager Charles Smith initially told  the
TOront  Sun  he  didn't know where the conference was going to be
held eithe, but said he would research the files.

    Later yesterday, after having done  what he said, he told The
Sun the site was a Toronto board of education  high  school,  and
named  it.   The  Sun had promised not to reveal which school was
the site - so as  not  to contribute to any counter-demonstration
that  might  occur  -  but  phoned  the  board  to   verify   the
information.

    At  the  board,  public  relations manager Brian Smith hasn't
heard of the conference.  Smith checked with the school principal
in question, the Sun with assistance superindendent for the area,
Eleanor Gooday, and noth were  adament there was no conference of
any kind, let alone ARA's, booked for the June 22-23 weekend.

    A further check with the board's permit office confirmed  the
school has not been booked for either day and is available at its
regular rates.

    Meanwhile, at the access and equity office, Charles Smith had
left  for  the day, and the mystery he had created by naming this
school as the conference site  when  it clearly isn't couldn't be
resolved:  Had Smith and others involved with the conference been
misled by the ARA?

    there are a cojple of difficulties with all this,  as  I  see
it.
    The  first  is  that  the  Trillium  Foundation and the Metro
government have, respectively, approved  or  are  on the verge of
approving grants for one of the nastiest groups in town.

    Anti-Racist Action became most infamous  for  its  June  1993
trashing  of a Heritage Front leader's house, in which a crowd of
about 300 smashed windows and  doors  and threw eggs, paint bombs
and rocks (individual ARA members who were charged in  connection
with this incident were later acquitted) but its tactics have not
appeared to mellow appreciably in the years since.

    In  1994,  its  radio show on station CIUT was briefly yanked
from the air after  complaints  the hosts were advocating "direct
action" against  racists.   Later  that  year,  a  group  of  ARA
activists  shut down a Queen St. W. store they claimed was linked
to white supremacists.

    In 1995, an  anti-racist  was  stabbed  and  almost died in a
brawl that began when 18 ARA members,  armed  with  heavy  pipes,
followed  several  skinheads  onto  the subway, mistakenly taking
them for neo-Nazis.

    The Sun's Bill  Dunphy,  our  resident  expert on hate-crime,
says ARA "still preaches hate" and is "fascistic" and  intolerant
of  any  views but ARA views; the group's website is a particular
sore spot.  But because it's  the  only  group doing this sort of
work, Dunphy says, and the only one which can reach young people,
ARA sometimes wins support  from  respectable  organizations  who
want  to  offer  frustrated  young  people ways to become smarter
activists.

    That's the first issue.

    The second is that  it  strikes  me  that when one is dealing
with A) a group with the reputation the ARa  has  and  B)  public
money or lottery proceeds and/or public property, it behooves any
would-be  sponsors  to  ask  a  few  more  hard questions than it
appears they did - not,  I  hestitate,  to add, to satisfy prying
reporters, but rather to establish that ARA  is  playing  on  the
level  and  is  at  the  very least prepared not to bite the hand
that, however foolishly, would feed it.

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