A controversial City of Hamilton employee who once led a Canadian white supremacist organization is on leave according to the city manager’s office.
Communications officer Jacqueline Durlov has confirmed to Global News Radio Friday that Marc Lemire is not reporting to work due to an internal probe.
“Marc Lemire is currently on a leave of absence, pending the outcome of an investigation,” said Durlov via email.
Lemire, a former Heritage Front member, has been working in the city’s IT department for over a decade. His employment first came to light after an article by Vice Canada’s Mack Lamoreaux.
Hamilton city councillors, with the director of human resources Lora Fontana, had a closed-door session on May 8 to determine a course of action after news of Lemire’s employment and history came to light.
LISTEN: Vice Canada writer Mack Lamoreaux tells Global News Radio that former Heritage Front member Marc Lemire has been working in the city’s IT department for over a decade.
The following day, Fontana confirmed to Global News that the city was pursuing, through a third-party firm, an investigation into the matter saying: “In the event that the investigation substantiates a policy violation, appropriate action will be taken.”
The city has not revealed the completion date of the investigation.
The revelation caused concern for a number of current and former city councillors who want to know whether their data was compromised.
Former councillor and current director of the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion, Matthew Green, was one of many worried about Lemire’s potential access to their political and personal information.
“During my (time) as a City Councillor I was often a primary source of highly private and confidential information disclosed to me by both city staff in a whistleblowing capacity, as well as residents, facing a range of issues including very sensitive information,” said Green. “I have deep concerns about this breach of public trust knowing now that this person may have had complete and undetectable access to these communications.”
Lemire, 44, came to notoriety in 2009 when a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled on a controversial law banning internet hate messages.
Back then, it was alleged that Lemire was influential in the neo-Nazi movement, using the internet as a propaganda tool in the early 90s and starting a website called ‘The Freedom Site’ in 1996.
After the tribunal sessions, member Athanasios Hadjis was criticized in public for ruling that section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act — a controversial law banning Internet hate messages — violated Charter protections. That decision essentially let accused hate mongers, like Lemire, off the hook, allowing them to continue to post alleged hate messages with no repercussions.
Lemire, who boasted of being the founder of freedomsite.org, later went on to post articles related to censorship in Canada until 2015.
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