A controversial City of Hamilton employee who once led a Canadian white supremacist organization has been terminated, according to the city.
Communications manager Jen Recine confirmed in a release on Friday that Marc Lemire and the city have “mutually agreed to end Mr. Lemire’s employment.”
Lemire was on a leave of absence, pending the outcome of two investigations, according to Recine.
“This decision follows two investigations into Mr. Lemire’s workplace activities,” Recine said. “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.”
Recine went on to say there was “no evidence” that Lemire “inappropriately” accessed or gathered any data from city databases, including emails.
The city is not commenting on the details of his termination, however, following a council meeting on Friday City Manager Janette Smith did say there are lessons to be learned from the circumstance.
“Whenever there’s an investigation or review, etc., there’s always lessons learned that cause you to go back and look at how you can improve things. That’s something that we haven’t started yet but we will be looking at that.”
Employment lawyer and host of Global News Employment Hour Lior Samfiru says most of the allegations against Lemire seem to have occurred before he was employed by the city. Unless it’s been found that he continued those actions during the time of his employment, Samfiru believes he will be owed severance.
Samfiru says that could be as much as two years’ pay because the publicity surrounding the case could make him virtually “unemployable.”
“No one is going to disagree that the conduct is one that most of us will find offensive or the alleged acts were ones that we don’t approve of, but unless they can show that it makes continued employment impossible, it’s not going to properly be grounds for termination for cause.”
Lemire, a former Heritage Front member, had been working in the city’s IT department for over a decade. His employment first came to light in an article by Vice Canada’s Mack Lamoureux.
Hamilton city councillors and city director of human resources Lora Fontana had a closed-door session on May 8 to determine the city’s course of action after news of Lemire’s employment and history came to light.
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 revelation caused concern for a number of current and former city councillors who wanted to know whether their data was compromised.
Matthew Green, a former city councillor and current director of the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion, was one of the many worried about Lemire’s potential access to his 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, reportedly 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 allowed accused hate-mongers like Lemire off the hook, permitting them to continue to post allegedly hateful 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.
Originally posted from Global News by Don Mitchell on August 16, 2019
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