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Liberal MLA Dave Hayer said that the acquittals send a message that Canada is open to terrorists.

Judge's decision on the bases

  • Beyond a reasonable doubt
  • No reliable confirmatory evidence
  • According to the prosecution, Talwinder Singh Parmar was the brain behind the plot to blow up Air India.

    is right. It looks Canada cannot successfully prosecute terrorism cases. There must be a public inquiry

    Ajit Singh Khalsa

    March 18, 2005

    by Phillip Todd

    As the reaction to Wednesday’s Air India verdict has widened, one response has echoed outward with the most damning of criticisms: “Had this been a tragedy that affected mainstream, white Anglo-Saxon Canadians, I think the response would have been very different.” That’s Lata Pada, who lost her husband and two children to the Air India attack, speaking Thursday amid intensifying calls for a public inquiry into the handling of the case. Like Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan, MediaScout isn’t quite sure what the value of such an inquiry would be. But that’s only because it seems an irreproachable judgement to say that the case was botched from the get-go because of underlying racism, or if readers would prefer a more diplomatic phrasing, a lack of political will. In case you’ve not followed the story, here’s the recap: the Mulroney government never even sent victims’ families its condolences—it considered this an Indian tragedy in spite of most of the victims being Canadian citizens. And, of course, Canada and its law enforcement agencies were vastly different in 1985: a lack of Punjabi translators and officers of East Indian origin meant the RCMP had trouble telling some key suspects apart.

    The interview with Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh on The National last night was particularly poignant. In 1985, Dosanjh was beaten nearly to death for speaking out against sectarian tensions in the Vancouver Indo-Canadian community. He was asked what he, as an Indo-Canadian, thought should be done now. Predictably, Dosanjh stayed on message, supported McLellan and urged those who had followed the trial to have faith in the justice system and the appeals process. For many Indo-Canadians it must have felt as though nothing has changed. But something has changed. For one, the media’s coverage of the trial (of the Big Six, the CBC and the Globe, in particular) has demonstrated that in the Canadian consciousness, this is very much a national issue and one worth following with a tenacity usually reserved for Ottawa-based political reporting. While a public inquiry may not get off the ground, the Indo-Canadian community can take heart that sometimes the examples of failed justice are the strongest motivators to ensuring history never repeats itself



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