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Alleged neo-Nazi loses job at Hamilton city hall

Hamilton City Hall

A former white supremacist leader has lost his job with the City of Hamilton, Ont.

Marc Lemire, who worked quietly for a decade in the information technology department at city hall, left the job on Aug. 16, after it was alleged that he had once been a leader of the neo-Nazi Heritage Front.

In a statement, Hamilton officials said, “The City of Hamilton and Marc Lemire have mutually agreed to end Mr. Lemire’s employment. This decision follows two investigations into Mr. Lemire’s workplace activities. Following these investigations, the city made a decision that Mr. Lemire’s off-duty activities and associations did not reflect the culture, values and beliefs of the city.”

City officials did not specify if Lemire left his job voluntarily or was fired, and refused to say if he was paid severance.

Lemire’s past as a white supremacist caused concern for some that his position as a network analyst in the computer department gave him access to sensitive information about city activities and issues being brought to councillors.

The city’s press release, however, said those fears were groundless.

“There was, however, no evidence that Mr. Lemire inappropriately accessed, utilized or gathered any data, including city emails or private information, or that he inappropriately used any city equipment,” reads the statement.

“While we can certainly appreciate the public’s interest in this matter, as this is an employee matter, we will not be able to comment further on the details of the end of our employment relationship.”

Lemire has denied that he was a leader of the Heritage Front, adding that he hasn’t been involved in “any politics for many years” and is “completely out of the political spectrum.”

Lemire has never been convicted of any hate crime. He was placed on leave by the city in May.

Lemire’s unmasking is only latest incident to stain Hamilton’s reputation as a city that prizes diversity. Hate crime figures recently released by Statistics Canada show the number of police-reported hate incidents in the city to be three times the national average.

The StatsCan numbers show that while 2018 saw a 13 per cent decrease in reported hate crimes throughout the country (from 2,073 incidents to 1,798), incidents in Hamilton rose 6.6 per cent from 2017. That rise followed a hike of 30 per cent in 2017. With reported incidents averaging 17.1 per 100,000 people, the rate in Hamilton was more than three times the national average.

Jews remain near the top of the list as targets for such crimes.

The 2018 statistical report by the Hamilton Police Service shows 125 hate-related incidents reported in 2018 – that’s down 8 per cent from 2017 – including 58 incidents targeting people because of race and 49 because of religion. Of that total, 41 incidents targeted blacks, while 30 were aimed at Jews – a 25 per cent increase from 2017.

The numbers were made darker by violence at a recent LGBTQ festival and regular protests in front of city hall by a group of yellow-vested hatemongers spewing ugliness.

To help counter those events, city council has agreed to hire an outside consultant to advise on a package of anti-hate policies.

City manager Janette Smith told a council committee earlier this month that she’s hoping to find a consultant with “hate mitigation experience” to craft a full response.

“This is a topic that is really intense for a number of people,” she told the city’s general issues committee. “There is a lot of passion around this issue, so there might be some value in bringing in someone from outside.”

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