Ottawa irked by aboriginal's role before hate trial

Tue Apr 1, 2008 4:52pm EDT
 
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's government is dismayed that an aboriginal band has readmitted a member who faces a hate crimes trial for calling Jews a "disease," Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl said on Tuesday.

The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations in western Canada decided last week to reinstate David Ahenakew as a senator on the grounds that he had suffered enough.

"This is very, very concerning for me that this reinstatement took place at this time," Strahl told reporters, saying he had ordered a review of ties between Ottawa and the federation. Ottawa funds the native band.

"Mr. Ahenakew's comments are among the most disturbing that I've seen in my time," Strahl said.

Ahenakew quit the federation's senate in 2002 after he told a local newspaper that Jews were a "disease" that Hitler was trying to "clean up" when he "fried six million of those guys."

He was convicted of hate crimes in 2005, successfully appealed the decision in 2006, and will go on trial a second time later this year. He was fined C$1,000 ($980) after his conviction and stripped of the Order of Canada, the country's highest civilian honor.

($1=$1.02 Canadian)

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Peter Galloway)