White nationalist mayoral candidate getting Hamilton voters list is scary, say anti-hate groups

Municipal candidates have the right to access voters’ names and addresses as defined by Ontario law, raising some concerns about a self-proclaimed white nationalist running for mayor of Hamilton this fall.

Paul Fromm, who has repeatedly stood for political office at different levels, is one of the nine mayoral candidates is seeking to replace Fred Eisenberger, who opted out of the October 24 municipal election.

The City of Hamilton confirmed to CBC that municipal candidates had access to the voters list as of September 1.

Fromm argued for whites-only immigration and marched with the Nazis.

His latest bid to become mayor of Hamilton – he also ran in 2018 – sparked concern from anti-hate campaigner Bernie Farber and others.

Farber, president of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, reacted to Fromm obtaining voters’ names and addresses by saying, “What can be done with this is a bit scary.”

But in an email to CBC Hamilton, Fromm said any concerns about his possession of voter information were unfounded, adding that “the implications are both alarmist and defamatory.”

“I ran for municipal, federal and provincial elections, in Ontario and Alberta [once], and had access to the electoral lists. I have never used them other than for legitimate electoral purposes.

“I hope this election is about freedom and how many politicians have abused and restricted ours during COVID.”

There is a level of concern because [Fromm] doesn’t believe everyone should be treated the same… This is real life, there are real consequences.– Lyndon George, Executive Director, Hamilton Anti-Racism Resource Center

Farber, however, said disclosing people’s home addresses, in an age when information can be easily shared online, endangers people who work in the public domain or who say or do things that “racists and the fanatics don’t like it”.

“If a bad guy wanted to know where the good guys lived, all he had to do was run for office,” Farber told CBC Hamilton in late August, calling Fromm “the great-grandfather of the neo-Nazi movement in this country. .”

Evan Balgord, executive director of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, said while Farber and his organization aren’t alleging Fromm has done or will do anything illegal with the data, the bottom line is that they don’t. don’t trust him.

“You can’t trust a word from a Nazi and it’s been open for decades,” Balgord said.

Farber, former executive director of the Canadian Jewish Congress, was the target of numerous threats and a neo-Nazi plot against his life in 1994. (At that time, says Farber, the Heritage Front was plans to come to work – he thinks it’s because they didn’t know where he lived.)

The anti-racism center also expresses its concern

In a statement to CBC, local organization Hamilton Anti-Racism Resource Center (HARRC) said it shared Farber’s concerns.

“As an organization that provides support services to people who experience racism and hate in Hamilton, allowing Paul Fromm…access to the voters list is a real concern in Hamilton,” Lyndon George said. , Executive Director of HARRC.

George said Fromm’s history of not acknowledging how hurtful his views are to many in the community means it’s hard to trust him with something that can leave residents vulnerable, like having their personal informations.

“Fromm has made hate his life’s work…From anti-Semitic statements to anti-immigrant statements, he has a long and well-known hate list associated with his name. Allowing him access to a voters list that includes addresses and the names of the residents is something we clearly don’t support…There is a level of concern because he doesn’t believe everyone should be treated the same…His words have often been the things towards which individuals turn to validate their feelings of hate for real consequences.”

Fromm’s history with far-right organizations

Fromm, who moved to Hamilton from Mississauga in 2018, has a long history with white supremacist groups and causes. He leads several far-right organizations, including:

  • The Canadian Association for Free Speech, which has campaigned on behalf of Holocaust deniers.
  • Citizens for Foreign Aid Reform, which opposes foreign aid.
  • The Canada First Immigration Reform Committee, which opposes immigration, especially of people who are not of European descent.

Fromm was fired from his teaching job with the Peel Region School Board in 1993 because of his political activities.

In revoking his teaching license in 2007, the Ontario College of Teachers cited Fromm’s attendance at a 1991 Adolf Hitler birthday celebration and sharing a stage with the leader of the Ku Klux Klan David Duke in 1994 among the reasons.

Hamilton could have a better system, says Farber

Farber said he opted out of the voters list to protect his family from potential threats from any candidate or party.

He said the Canadian Anti-Hate Network has made its concerns clear at the federal level. The organization has also challenged candidates and parties at various levels, such as the People’s Party of Canada, and its access to voter information.

Farber also suggested that Fromm’s repeated candidacy in Hamilton might have motivated the city to come up with an alternative system for releasing voter information.

“Hamilton could lead and come up with an ingenious idea to guard personal information,” he said, shortly before the list was made available to applicants.

The City of Hamilton has confirmed that under the Ontario Municipal Elections Act, it must provide voter information to anyone certified as a candidate.

Candidates must take an oath promising to use the package for electoral purposes only and not to post it online or sell it, explained Aine Leadbetter, Head of Elections, Printing and Mail.

Law application takes place in court.

When asked why Fromm should have access to the names and addresses of voters in Hamilton, given his far-right ties and activities, the city’s communications officer, Michelle Shantz, said that ” all certified candidates have the right under the Municipal Elections Act (MEA) to request and receive a copy of the voters list.”

The issue of giving electoral lists to candidates with controversial pasts has been raised in recent years in Calgary when concerns surfaced about mayoral candidate Kevin J. Johnston, who was facing charges of assault and hate crimes in Ontario and British Columbia.

CBC News reported in 2021 that following allegations surrounding Johnston, the City of Calgary was working with its legal team regarding legislation requiring that a voters list be provided to mayoral candidates.

Elections Calgary has finally decided to hold the October 2021 municipal elections without a voters list, according to the Calgary Herald. At the time, the Canadian Anti-Hate Network said Calgary would not give municipal candidates the names and addresses of voters, “the issue of voters lists is a pan-Canadian problem.”

George of HARRC said Calgary had made a “bold move” on the issue and urged policymakers in Hamilton to do the same.

“Standing up against hate takes leadership at all levels of government. The question is, will our current and future elected officials take action to prevent known neo-Nazis like Paul Fromm from accessing the voters list?” He asked.

Political scientist Peter Graefe told CBC Hamilton that the list can be beneficial for candidates who are able to tap into voter information from past elections and be strategic in their campaign planning.

“With both name and address, campaigns can be more confident in aligning data collected in previous campaigns (including campaigns at other levels of government) with the current campaign’s voters list. “, did he declare.

Fromm runs against Bob Bratina, Andrea Horwath, Keanin Loomis, Ejaz Butt, Jim Davis, Solomon Ikhuiwu, Michael Pattison and Hermiz Ishaya.

Although the Canadian Anti-Hate Network did not raise any specific issues with another candidate in Hamilton, it told CBC that it does not believe “anyone should be given voters lists, given the issues of confidentiality and security”.

“Take a stand against hate at the ballot box”

Howard Eisenberg, president of the Jewish Federation of Hamilton, raised his own concerns about who can get voter lists.

“It is troubling that personal information from the voter registry could end up in the hands of self-proclaimed white nationalists,” Eisenberg wrote in a statement. “It is something that would concern not only the Jewish community but also other minorities.

“Hamiltonians should take a stand against hate at the ballot box and send a clear and unequivocal message that there is no place for hate at City Hall.”

Hamilton-based Rabbi David Mivasair sees things differently. Mivasair is a political activist with Independent Jewish Voices, who has spoken out against Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and supported the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

I guess if anyone wants to find me or other community activists, they can.– Hamilton Rabbi David Mivasair

He said that while it’s unpleasant to think of Fromm getting everyone’s address, it doesn’t change much. Mivasair said a lot of personal information can be easily found online, and candidates often purchase voter information containing those details.

“I’m not particularly concerned about a racist having access to publicly available information,” he said. “I guess if anyone wants to find me or other community activists, they can. It’s not hard to find virtually anyone. Any journalist, any political activist, any rabbi.

“I’m not saying that Paul Fromm is an OK person or I’m not worried about him. But…this information [from the voters list] does not indicate a person’s ethnic origin or political orientation. He will not be able to sift through this information to find out who the leftists are or who the racialized people are.

“If he wants to have Rabbi Mivasair doxed, he can [already] do this.”


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