NRI, Navdeep Bains's demand for an apology, absolutely
unacceptable by PM
Ottawa, Feb. 22, 2007
Darshan Malhotra and J Gill, windsor
On Wednesday, this was one of the nastiest spats in months, sparked
a political storm in the House of Commons when Prime Minister, Stephen
Harper tried to read from a newspaper article that links a Liberal
MP's in-law to the Air India investigation. Outraged Liberal MPs
drowned out Prime Minister Stephen Harper with chants of "shame!"
Newspaper article was about to describe an article from the Vancouver
Sun pointing out that Darshan Singh Saini, father-in-law of 29-year-old
Ontario MP Navdeep Bains was once a spokesman for Babbar Khalsa,
a group officially recognized by the Canadian government as a terrorist
organization. He is on a list of potential RCMP witnesses in connection
with the 1985 Air India bombing that killed 329 people. The RCMP
would interview Saini and other witnesses through investigative
hearings made possible by the Anti-Terror Act. Those hearings allow
the authorities to compel people to testify. This inquiry will be
shut down if Stéphane Dion prevails in his new-found and
oddly passionate quest to kill provisions of the 2001 Anti-Terrorism
Act that permit such investigations.
Dion’s Flip Flop on Anti-Terror Law a Failure of Leadership
Stéphane Dion’s decision to pull his support for Canada’s
Anti-Terrorism law at a time when the threat of terrorism is growing
constitutes a failure of leadership that could endanger the safety
of Canadians. Dion was a Cabinet Minister in the former Liberal
government that approved the Anti-Terrorism Act in 2001 following
the 9/11 attacks in the United States.
On March 1, that provision of the act will die unless Parliament
Prime Minister has flatly refused to apologize for comments that
suggest the Liberals are refusing to extend anti-terrorism measures
in order to protect the Ontario MP Navdeep Bains's father-in-law.
"Mr. Harper's actions today are the worst kind of gutter politics
that I have seen in nearly 20 years in this House," said Mr.
"His statement severely calls into question his personal judgment,"
said Mr. Goodale. "This unconscionable attack on a member of
parliament can not stand, and speaks volumes about Mr. Harper's
style of politics.
The Liberals are opposed to a three-year extension of that provision,
along with one that allows for preventative detention for 72 hours.
The preventative detention clause has not been used to this point.
The NDP and Bloc Quebecois also support allowing the two clauses
to fade out.
The Canadian Judicial Council issued a statement on Tuesday that
criticized the way the Conservatives propose to change how judges
"Because the majority of voting members are now appointed
by the Minister, the advisory committees may neither be, nor seen
to be, fully independent of the government. This puts in peril the
concept of an independent body that advises the government on who
is best qualified to be a judge," said the statement.
"Will the prime minister stop attacking the independence of
the judiciary?" Dion asked.
"The Liberal Party opposes the change we made, which is to
give the police a voice in this process," Harper said.
Now Canadian voters are entitled to make their own individual judgments
on whether the Prime Minister was engaging in dirty pool by opening
the pages of the Sun in the privileged environment of the House
of Commons. But they would be well advised to ignore the slanted,
indignant language that some other media outlets are trying to disguise
The PM is being accused of suggesting that the Liberals changed
their policy on anti-terror legislation to protect Mr. Bains’
father-in-law, Darshan Singh Saini. In fact, it is only by clairvoyance
that reporters can claim to know what Mr. Harper would have said
in his complete reply. He was shouted down long before he had the
chance to make the “suggestion” being freely attributed
to him (readers may wonder why the Liberals did not sit quietly
and let him continue covering himself with “shame”.