Calgary probes anti-Semitic websites
By MICHAEL PLATT, QMI Agency
CALGARY - The blogs are filled with venom and scorn for the Jewish religion. That much is obvious.
What isn't so cut-and-dry is whether the alleged owner of the websites, a City of Calgary employee, can be punished for poisonous posts targeting Judaism and Zionism.
A full investigation of the employee, a 56-year-old foreman with Parks and Recreation, was launched Monday after the existence of at least two anti-Jewish blogs, both linked to the man, was revealed to city officials.
Described by one online watchdog as "one of the most twisted blogs you'll ever see," the sites both contain stories and articles targeting members of the Jewish religion, as well as anti-Jewish artwork.
The city is taking the matter very seriously, especially as one of the blogs and a Facebook site under the same name lists the City of Calgary and the Parks department as the man's employer, for more than 30 years.
City officials confirm there is a foreman with Parks of the same name, and as a result, the city's top lawyer has launched an investigation.
"We just became aware of the issue, so we are doing our investigation to determine an appropriate response — we need to determine a few facts, and then we can respond to this," said City Solicitor Paul Tolley.
That the websites in question aren't directly connected to the City of Calgary doesn't necessarily protect the employee, whom the Sun has chosen not to name for now.
The city's code of conduct for staff can include behaviour and actions outside of work hours, said Tolley.
"Sometimes the actions of an employee outside of the workplace can impact on their employment with the city and that's something we'll have to investigate," said Tolley.
Given that the blogs in question contain vitriol towards Jews, Tolley acknowledges that a key question maybe the alleged owner's role as a foreman, supervising people of all races and religions.
"That would be part of it, overall, but I can't really say much about it, because I don't want to compromise the investigation," said Tolley.
The sites, updated as recently as August, came to the attention of the city and this newspaper after being highlighted on a separate, anti-racism blogsite, under the heading "Canadian Jew Hating Freak of the Day".
The keeper of that blog included a warning to Calgarians: "FYI to all – If you live in Calgary you should know that you're paying this guy's salary. He works for the city in the parks and rec. dept. as a foreman."
The websites connected to the anti-Jew blogs are a maze of links, containing conspiracy theories and essays aimed mainly at the Jewish religion, which is condemned as racist, power-hungry and corrupt.
It doesn't appear the alleged owner of the blogs actually writes the material, though anti-Jewish words apparently penned by the same man can be found on plenty of online comment forums, under the same unique user handle.
As well, his Facebook page connects to one of the anti-Jewish blogs, where he is listed as owner.
Still, when contacted through an email address listed on one of the anti-Jewish blogs, the man denied running the website.
"What investigation? I went to the site and it is not my blogsite," he wrote back.
The man did acknowledge a connection to the anti-Jewish site, but failed to explain why he was named as owner, complete with his age, occupation and profile picture.
"I am a follower as I am of many blogs, forums, websites and social sites," he wrote.
And so the city, deserving of praise for launching an immediate investigation, will be forced to untangle the online mess.
The local Jewish community is taking a wait-and-see stance over the alleged connection to the City of Calgary, though leaders with the community wasted no time condemning the blogs.
"The places where the links take you are appalling and unfortunately, like many other inventions which benefit mankind, the web can be used for negative purposes," said Calgary Jewish Community spokesman Adam Singer.
"There are parts of the web which have become a cesspool."