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Sikh Community Co-operation Vital To Secure Canada

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Sikh community co-operation vital
to secure Canada

The StarPhoenix - June 18, 2010

Even to those who have followed closely the twisted and troubled trail of investigative incompetence since the 1985 Air India attack, Justice John Major's report is shocking.

Almost every conceivable error that could have been made in terms of surveillance and investigation before and since the attack, was made. Worse yet, authorities repeatedly covered up or downplayed their incompetence, at the expense of making Canada safer and ensuring those culpable for the attack would be brought to justice.

While it is true that evidence of all this came out, not only during Justice Major's inquiry but also during the trials that failed to secure a major conviction against those responsible, it is still jarring to see it all laid out in this report.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper deserves credit for indicating his seriousness about acting to address the deficiencies in the system and for making that commitment directly to the families of the victims. The challenge will be to ensure that action is taken.

The major security agencies involved consistently have stonewalled and dodged rather than make the changes suggested in earlier reports and editorials. However, the prime minister has taken a personal interest in this file almost from the day he came to office in early 2006. Within weeks, he had agreed to meet with the families of the victims of the June 23, 1985, attack and, by that summer, he appointed Justice Major to conduct an inquiry.

Certainly Canadians have to hope the changes laid out in the Thursday's report, in terms of security oversight, increased efficiencies and the need for disparate organizations such as CSIS and the RCMP to work together rather than to sabotage one another, can be enacted.

And the country will be eternally in the debt of those Canadians who lost family members in this attack and who have been denied justice ever since.
But Justice Major didn't address the greatest challenge for Canadians, which is to deal with the separation of so many in the Canadian Sikh population from the rest of the country.

The history of Sikhs in Canada is long and storied. This is an ethnic group that has contributed mightily to making Canada what it is -- in the distant past as well as the present. But, aside from the Keystone Kops-like attempts of CSIS and the RCMP to handle this mass murder investigation, among the chief reasons the Crown has been unable to secure a major conviction has been the reluctance among too many in the Sikh community to do what's right.

Whether silenced by fear or a misplaced sense of loyalty, their reticence not only damages all Sikhs -- the vast majority of whom are in Canada to build for themselves a better life -- but continues to threaten the security of all Canadians.

It's worth noting that this damage and danger have been recognized and battled by many Sikh leaders, including publisher Tara Singh Hayer, who lost his life trying to bring the perpetrators to justice, and Liberal MP and former B.C. premier Ujjal Dosanjh, who was severely beaten and hospitalized for his troubles.

Yet annually during the Vaisakhi parade, photos of Air India bombing mastermind Talwinder Singh Parmar are put on display. And 25 years after the bombing, the two main suspects, Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri, continue to walk the streets, even though their trial was tainted by witness intimidation and charges of perjury.

Until enough of the Sikh community is willing to expose and convict those culpable, and to stand squarely for Canadian values against the twisted malevolent ideology of those who committed this attack, achieving the security that Mr. Major prescribes will prove extremely challenging.
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"Democracy cannot be maintained without its foundation: free public opinion and free discussion throughout the nation of all matters affecting the state within the limits set by the criminal code and the common law."
-The Supreme Court of Canada, 1938

© Copyright (c) The StarPhoenix

source: http://www.thestarphoenix.com/life/Sikh+community+operation+vital+secure+Canada/3169543/story.html

Commission of Inquiry
into the Investigation of the
Bombing of Air India
Flight 182

Full report at : http://www.majorcomm.ca/en/reports/finalreport/