OPENING NOTES

OPENING NOTES

JOE CHIDLEY October 17 1994
OPENING NOTES

OPENING NOTES

JOE CHIDLEY October 17 1994

OPENING NOTES

JOE CHIDLEY

BATTLE ON THE INTERNET

His home is in a small coastal town north of Victoria, his weapon a rickety self-built personal computer, and his only support a meagre income from his job as assistant manager of a gas station. But on the ethereal ground of the Internet, 54-year-old Kenneth McVay is a warrior with global reach. His cause: fighting the neoNazis, racists and anti-Semites who have discovered the power of the worldwide computer network. Groups and individuals who dispute that the Nazis systematically exterminated an estimated she million people, most of them Jews, have made increasing use of the Internet to proselytize their beliefs and recruit new adherents. Their contributions, often anonymous, to such Internet discussion groups as alt. revisionism and alt.skinheads are frequently vitriolic. “The Holocaust is a big lie,” asserted one recent writer. “I wish there had been a Holocaust and that we could have another one.” McVay spends hours each day monitoring Internet discussions for such assertions and countering them with detailed references to a personal collection of more than 1,000 computerized documents, including survivors’ testimony and evidence from the 1946 Nuremberg war-crimes trials. “I provide them with the facts, with the citations,” says McVay. “The project never ends. We get one or two new Nazis every week.” McVay has received help, in the form of research and additional documents, from supporters who include Eli Rosenbaum, chief war-crimes prosecutor for the U.S. justice department. But money remains tight, and his aging equipment is consistently on the verge of collapse. “The whole system is in jeopardy—everything is at risk on a minute-to-minute basis,” he says. Last week, however, a group of Vancouver-based admirers persuaded a local charity, the Committee for Racial Justice, to raise money for McVay’s Fascism and Holocaust Archives—and his one-man crusade may now become a full-time job.

PARTY TIME

Two elected members in the House of Commons, a $5.5-million debt— is it possible anyone still cares about the Progressive Conservatives? Apparently, yes. This fall sees the release of three books on the party, by former prime minister Joe Clark, former Kim Campbell senior adviser David McLaughlin and journalist Stevie Cameron. And there is enough interest in the party leadership that some senior Tories say the convention should be held next spring, rather than in 1996 as originally planned. That would allow interim leader Jean Charest to confirm his leadership. And if the convention is delayed, some Charest loyalists believe that both Clark and Alberta Premier Ralph Klein might run against him. ‘We are not afraid of anyone,” said one Tory who worked on Charest’s 1993 leadership campaign. “But wouldn’t it be rather silly if we had more strong candidates when we have only two MPs than we had when we were still the government?”

SPENDTHRIFT HARDSHIP

As negotiations between the NHL and its players association soured last week, several team executives unleashed stinging attacks on union boss Bob Goodenow. They could not understand, they said, why Goodenow and the players would not help relieve their supposed financial hardship by, among other things, tying salaries to revenues. But if the owners are looking for the enemy, they might instead look in the mirror. In the past few weeks, several NHL teams have thrown around money with abandon. Anaheim signed Paul Kariya, a rookie, for $8.75 million over three years. Buffalo gave goalie Dominic Hasek $9.3 million for three years, all because he had one good season. Brett Lindros, a rookie better known for his enormous size than his scoring prowess, got $10 million for five years from the New York Islanders. Pittsburgh endowed Jaromir Jagr with a $26.4-million, five-year deal, even though the Czech has yet to record a 100point season. Rick Tocchet, a solid but injuryprone grinder, got $10.8 million for four years in Los Angeles. No wonder the owners want the players to protect them from themselves.

TAKING NOTES

As officials from the Security Intelligence Review Committee confront the Commons subcommittee looking into allegations that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) improperly funded racist groups, they face some tough questions from rookie B.C. MP Val Meredith—179 questions, in fact. To insiders, that reveals an intimate knowledge of Canada’s spy agency. But Meredith has had some help. From 1986 until 1993, the Reform MP’s executive assistant, Rick Fraser, was an of-

ficer on CSIS’s counterterrorism desk in British Columbia. Fraser, who has worked with Meredith since 1993, acknowledges that he helped his boss prepare her subcommittee questions. “I have double-checked everything,” said Fraser, who is still bound by oaths of secrecy to CSIS. “Sometimes, it’s stuff I know, so that Val would be asking questions that I know the answer to but can’t tell her. But I can say what would be a good question.” Still, sources close to CSIS say privately that Fraser is mounting a vendetta against his former employer. They point to his three-year stint as head of the B.C. wing of the CSIS employees’ association— during which, he admits, “there were contentious issues constantly” between employees and management. Fraser says that he is not surprised by the accusations. “I know how the sys-

tern works,” he adds. “If you find that you are starting to get attacked by CSIS, you know you are close.” But he maintains that he left the agency on good terms and, citing his continuing loyalty to CSIS, denies mounting a personal campaign by passing on secret information to his boss. If he were doing that, Fraser adds, “information from the past would be front-page stories.”

CHEAP CHINA

Like many Western businesses, Western entertainers are lining up to perform in the world’s largest potential market, China. But one thing is becoming clear: Chinese officials are cheap. In fact, although it welcomes foreign artists to perform, the Chinese government refuses to pay a cent for the privilege. One artist facing that no-hard-cash reality is Canadian classical pianist Jane Coop. Now on a three-week tour of China, the Saint John, N.B., native says that she has resigned herself to performing there as “an act of charity.” And that is clearly the attitude the Chinese government likes. Said one official: “People should be proud to perform in China. We are happy to welcome them, and many people are happy to come.” And there’s a Westerner bom eveiy minute.