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Lee Carter reports from Toronto
"The visit caught the Canadian Government by surprise"
 real 28k

Thursday, 17 February, 2000, 05:39 GMT
Haider barred from Holocaust museum

hotel Staff at Mr Haider's hotel face protesters


Far-right Austrian politician Joerg Haider has unsuccessfully tried to visit Montreal's Holocaust Centre during an unannounced trip to Canada.

The president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, Moshe Ronen, said the museum had rejected what he described as a bizarre request.


It is important that Canadians speak up and tell Mr Haider that he is not welcome here
Moshe Ronen
He called Mr Haider, who has in the past expressed admiration for some Nazi policies, a "cynical manipulator of public opinion" who carried the legacy of Hitler "wherever he goes".

He said if Mr Haider had had constructive reasons for coming to Canada and visiting the Holocaust Centre, he would have announced his trip and requested a tour in advance.

"It is important that Canadians speak up and tell Mr Haider that he is not welcome here," he said.

Mr Haider, whose Freedom Party formed a governing coalition in Austria with the conservative People's Party earlier this month, arrived in Canada on an apparently private visit. His itinerary is unknown.

Protesters gathered at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Montreal where he is staying. Mr Haider refused to comment on his request to visit the Center, saying only: "It's a private visit. I didn't invite you here."

The Canadian Foreign Minister, Lloyd Axworthy, said there had been no notification of the visit from Vienna.

demo A demonstrator makes his point
Canada is one of several countries which downgraded relations with Austria after the Freedom Party joined the Austrian Government on 4 February.

Mr Haider once praised Adolf Hitler's "orderly" employment policy and has described SS veterans as honourable.

He has apologised for remarks that specifically offended Jews, but many say that his anti-immigrant rhetoric deliberately echoes Austria's fascist past.

Israel has withdrawn its ambassador from Vienna and has banned Mr Haider from entering the country.

Austria's 14 EU partners immediately implemented bilateral sanctions following the swearing-in of the government and the United States recalled its ambassador for consultations.

The Holocaust Centre rejected the "bizarre" request
In Canada, Toronto's symphony orchestra decided on Wednesday to go ahead with a three-day tour to Vienna after considering a boycott.

The orchestra plans to produce a programme insert for its Vienna concerts, containing a personal statement by TSO Music Director Jukka-Pekka Saraste, which will reflect the views of the musicians.

Earlier this month, US rock star Lou Reed cancelled a show in Vienna, and Gerard Mortier, artistic director of the Salzburg Festival - one of the top events in Europe's annual musical calendar - said he would quit earlier than scheduled in protest against the Freedom Party in government.

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See also:
12 Feb 00 |  Europe
Churchill a criminal - Haider
10 Feb 00 |  Europe
Diplomatic snub for Austria
09 Feb 00 |  Business
Boycott fears alarm Austrian business
09 Feb 00 |  UK
Charles' Austria boycott attacked
08 Feb 00 |  Europe
EU trims meeting amid Austria fears
03 Oct 99 |  Europe
Profile: Joerg Haider
08 Feb 00 |  Europe
Austria to face up to Nazi past

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