Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Conservatives Have Poor Relationship with Indo-Canadians

As news broke this week about Brian Mulroney's silencing of the Air India Bombing inquiry, it's a reminder of just how combative the Conservative Government has been toward Indo-Canadians.

Yes I know that Jason Kenney is currently exploiting the Sikh community, travelling across the country and globe with his new 'Mini-Me' Parm Gill, but overall their record has been abysmal.

Unfortunately Kenney's endorsement of Gill has meant an unprecedented attack on Gill's opponent, Rhuby Dhalla; which could very well drive a wedge in the Sikh community of Brampton. What does Kenney care? He just really wants a Private Investigator in his camp for the impending Conservative leadership race, if Stephen Harper loses the next election. Stockwell Day had to hire his own, when he paid an American Private Investigator (James Leigh) $ 6500.00 to spy on Jean Chretien.

Mulroney's office withheld Air India report
By Kim Bolan
Vancouver Sun
May 8, 2009

The office of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney withheld a report on the Air India bombing from an Indian judicial inquiry because it was worried Canada would look bad if the information was released, according to formerly secret documents released Friday.

The Canadian Aviation Safety Board report, prepared for India’s Kirpal Commission, concluded in the fall of 1985 that a terrorist bomb out of Vancouver brought down Air India Flight 182 months earlier, killing all 329 aboard.

But at a meeting chaired by Mulroney’s senior advisor Fred Doucet in January, 1986, the PMO concluded the CASB should not have prepared the report and that its conclusions were premature, flawed and damning to Canadian interests.

Memos about two PMO meetings in the months after the bombing are among dozens of previously classified documents released publicly Friday by Air India inquiry staff.

The public portion of the inquiry, headed by retired Justice John Major, ended in February 2008, but the production of evidence has continued for over a year behind closed doors. The final report is expected to be released next fall.

The government’s refusal to provide certain information to the Kirpal commission is “evidence of a cover-up,” lawyer Jacques Shore, who represents the Air India Victims Families Association, said Friday.

“These are among the incredibly shocking revelations that have come to light since we completed our hearings,” Shore said. At the time of the Kirpal Commission, victims’ families were fighting for compensation from the Canadian government for their lost loved ones.

Shore filed new submissions in response to the government revelations saying it is obvious “Canada intended to suppress the CASB report, believing its conclusions could be damaging to the case the government was trying to build with respect to the bombing, in addition to being potentially damaging to its reputation.”

Mulroney’s staff and the “cabinet ministers concerned” did agree that the report’s author would be able to testify at the Kirpal inquiry even though his report would not be provided..

But they did not want Canada to give any information to Justice Kirpal that might link the Air India crash with the same day bombing at Tokyo’s Narita Airport that killed two baggage handlers.

In August of 2008, the Indo-Canadain community of Vancouver were incensed over a weak apology that Harper gave relating to an incident that occurred when Conservative PM Borden was in charge.

Canadian PM apologises for Komagata Maru, Indo-Canadians reject it

The Indo-Canadian community has refused to accept an apology by Prime Minister Stephen Harper for the 1914 Komagata Maru ship incident in which hundreds of Indian passengers were not allowed to enter Canada. The Komagata Maru was a Japanese ship hired by Malaysia-based wealthy Sikh Gurdit Singh to bring 376 Indians from Hong Kong to Canada in 1914 to challenge its racist laws.

The Indians were not allowed to disembark in Vancouver and forcibly sent back to India where many were shot on arrival in Calcutta, as it was then called.

Tendering the apology at the annual Mela Gadari Babian Da at the Bear Creek Park in Surrey city near here Sunday, Harper said Canada was sorry for the mistreatment of the passengers in 1914 and apologises for it.

Since the government had promised to apologise only in the nation’s parliament, mela organisers immediately rejected it.

“We wanted the House of Commons to apologise, not the PM at this rally. We reject this apology,” shouted Mela organiser Sahib Singh Thind even as security personnel whisked the prime minister away.

Thind said: “The government has betrayed us, as only yesterday it had promised us that the PM will announce only a date here for the apology in parliament later.

“Today, they have treated us like they did the Komagata passengers in 1914. It was the same racist Conservative government then as now. Racism is alive in Canada.” He said the Indo-Canadian community would chalk out its plan to fight for an apology in the nation’s parliament.

However, Jason Kenney, secretary for multiculturalism and Canadian identity, ruled this out, saying: “The apology has been given and it won’t be repeated.”

An indignant Indo-Canadian MLA Jagrup Brar, who was instrumental in getting the provincial British Columbia assembly to apologise for the Komagata Maru just last month, asked: “If our provincial assembly can apologise, why can’t the nation’s parliament?

“It was the House of Commons which had passed a unanimous resolution proposing an apology. The apology should have been entered into the House records. I wonder who is advising this PM.”

But Deepak Obhrai, Canadian parliamentary secretary (minister of state) for foreign affairs, justified the apology, saying: “It does not matter where the apology is tendered. Some people are bound to make noises. The government has acknowledged that Indo-Canadians were discriminated against in the past.”