November 23, 2001
Collins used in ad
Taiga praises late writer's courage.
PAT JOHNSON REPORTER
Members of British Columbia's Jewish community were upset by an
insertion in a commercial flyer that has been distributed to households
around the Lower Mainland. In an otherwise ordinary advertisement
for Taiga Works Wilderness Equipment was a tribute to the late Doug
Collins passed away recently at the age of 81. He had a long career
in journalism and opinion writing, gaining particular notoriety
for his columns in the North Shore News, which included Holocaust
revisionism, anti-Semitism, homophobia and anti-immigration rhetoric.
In the Taiga flyer, a photograph of Collins, wearing a Taiga parka
and sitting on Santa's lap, accompanied a brief tribute, which hailed
him as a defender of free speech.
"Although many disagreed with his views, he has to be admired,
however grudgingly, for his lion's courage in asserting and defending
the rights of free opinion and free speech in these wimpy, politically
correct times," said the insertion.
Over the course of several weeks, Taiga officials did not respond
to the Bulletin's phone calls. However, numerous people contacted
the newspaper and Canadian Jewish Congress to alert people about
the ad. Marilyn Shore couldn't believe what she was seeing when
the flyer came through her door.
"I was shocked," she said. "I was angry. I thought, 'for sure
I'm not shopping there anymore.' It was totally out of place. It
was totally inappropriate."
She said she called the company and got no satisfaction.
"I wanted to talk to someone to find out who authorized that to
be in a flyer," she said. Nobody was willing to comment to her,
she said, and one staff member suggested she write a letter because
the owner wouldn't answer calls.
Ken Abramson was similarly surprised by the contents of the advertising
for a store he had shopped at previously.
"I have bought their product. My friends have bought their products,"
he said. Although he said he would not shop there again, he stopped
short of calling for a boycott. "I think people have to go with
their own feelings," he said. "My mother-in-law and her family were
through the camps and she's one of the few survivors. There's still
strong feelings out there and I think people have to go with their
Nisson Goldman, chair of Canadian Jewish Congress, Pacific Region,
said his group's community relations committee will discuss the
ad at a meeting later this month.
"We've seen the ad and we're looking at it very closely," he said.
"The first impression is, we're particularly unhappy with it."
Collins was twice brought before the B.C. Human Rights Commission
to defend his writing against charges of inciting hatred against
an identifiable group. He was successful in one case and unsuccessful
in the other.