House of Commons Hansard #78 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was public.


Question No. 90Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.


Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Question No. 90Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Question No. 90Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members


SupplyGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.


Gurmant Grewal Conservative Newton—North Delta, BC

seconded by the member for Toronto—Danforth, moved:

That, in light of the fact that the Air-India bombing was the largest mass murder and terrorist act in Canadian history, and evidence that errors were committed by the investigative agencies involved, this House calls for an independent judicial inquiry into the investigation of the Air-India bombing of June 23, 1985.

Mr. Speaker,I am pleased to rise today to lead off debate on the Conservative Party's supply day motion. At the outset, let me first convey our sympathy, condolences and our prayers for the families of the victims.

On June 23, 1985, 329 innocent people, the majority of them Canadian citizens, were mass murdered. Over 80 victims were children under the age of 12. Twenty complete families were killed. Six parents lost all their children. Two dozen people lost their remaining family members and were left alone.

The enormity of this tragedy, the worst act of terrorism in Canadian history, cannot be overstated. Last month a not guilty verdict in the Air-India trial brought to a close another chapter in a 20 year saga. The relatives of the victims of the Air-India bombing are still left searching for answers. They want and deserve justice, but justice is beginning to look as if it is out of reach.

Two weeks ago in British Columbia, my leader met with the families of the victims. One lady said that a public inquiry is already 20 years too late. Canadians want closure to the sad story of the Air-India bombing. This case has been an absolute farce from the beginning, with the judicial system and the families of the victims the clear losers.

We must have final and clear answers to the issues surrounding this tragedy, including what went wrong in the investigative process. A public inquiry is needed to help ensure that this gross injustice never happens again.

Families of the victims have said that the only way for the government to rectify what they see as a second tragedy is to convene an inquiry. My leader, the leader of Her Majesty's official opposition, called for a public inquiry on March 16, just shortly after the decision was released.

In June 1985, bombs were placed on two Air-India flights, one originating in Canada. One bomb destroyed flight 182 at 31,000 feet over the southwest tip of Ireland, killing all 329 people on board. The other exploded 54 minutes earlier in baggage being transferred at Tokyo's Narita airport to Air-India flight 301, killing two baggage handlers and maiming four.

The story of the bombing goes back to before that murderous day. On June 4, 1985, members of CSIS followed two men into a forest on Vancouver Island. They heard a loud explosion, but did not regard the incident as important.

Five months later, those two men, Talwinder Singh Parmar and Inderjit Singh Reyat, were arrested on various weapons, explosives and conspiracy charges. Police revealed that the charges were connected with the Air-India disaster. However, the case against Parmar turned out to be flimsy and the charges were dropped. Reyat was fined on a minor explosives charge. Both were released. Parmar, regarded by the RCMP as the mastermind of the Air-India bombing, was allowed to leave the country and was mysteriously killed in a fake police encounter in India in 1992.

Next, Vancouver businessman Ripudaman Singh Malik, and Ajaib Singh Bagri, a sawmill worker, were arrested in 2000 and charged with a list of offences, including murder. Prosecutors took 13 months to present evidence and 115 witnesses testified in the most complicated and costly case in Canadian history. In delivering his not guilty verdict on the case, Justice Josephson ruled that justice would not be served if there were any doubt of the defendants' guilt.

With the not guilty verdict, there has now been only a single conviction to come out of the 20 year investigation into the Air-India bombing. Reyat ultimately pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to only five years in prison, but widespread expectations that he would testify against Malik and Bagri proved unfounded.

After 20 years, 250 RCMP officers on the case, $150 million and listening to 115 witnesses, we have no answers to who are the terrorists, who is guilty and where is the justice.

It was mass murder and it deserves justice. Already, justice delayed is justice denied. It has become a mockery of the justice system. There were unforgiveable lapses and failures in the system before and after the tragedy. There have been allegations of the RCMP and CSIS bungling the investigation and of the government's lack of action in the face of apparent knowledge of impending attacks by terrorists and knowledge of the perpetrators themselves.

I would like to quote a former CSIS officer involved in the Air-India probe. His words appeared in The Asian Pacific Post :

First of all I have to say that the verdict did not come as a surprise. The botched investigation is a disgrace. I believe that its failure was caused by incompetence and stupidity at the highest levels of government, the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) and CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service).

I also feel ashamed that I was part of it.

Most of all, I feel sick at heart for the relatives of the murder victims. I would like to apologize to every single one of them. That's how I feel.

His grief is understandable. Let us consider that there was surveillance of the suspects as late as just a few days prior to the tragedy. There were warnings to authorities from within and outside Canada. The screening system repeatedly did not function. Unaccompanied baggage carrying the bombs was allowed to be transported. There was an alleged mole, or moles, in our security system. The mastermind suspect of the terrorist plot was allowed to leave Canada and was then mysteriously murdered in India. Many other suspects have been killed in Canada. There was a breakdown in communication and cooperation between CSIS, the RCMP and perhaps the FBI.

After charges against Parmar were dropped in 1985, the next embarrassment for the investigation came with the news that CSIS had destroyed tapes of telephone calls made by people suspected of involvement in the Air-India case. In 2000 a former CSIS officer told The Globe and Mail that he had destroyed the 150 hours of tapes and written notes rather than hand them over to the Mounties because he feared the identities of informants would be revealed.

The agent, whose identity has not been revealed, told The Globe and Mail that he destroyed taped interviews with two people who had been questioned during the investigation. The agents said the two men wanted to remain anonymous--obviously--and he feared their request would not be honoured if the tapes were handed over to the police.

The agent said the investigation had been so badly bungled that there was a near mutiny by investigators handling the probe. He said it led to a fierce turf war between the Canadian intelligence agency and the Mounted Police. According to the RCMP documents, CSIS also ordered the destruction of wiretaps to conceal the fact that one of its agents had infiltrated a circle of Sikh extremists planning the attack. He was ordered to pull out three days before Air-India flight 182 blew up.

In his verdict, Justice Josephson described destruction of evidence as “unacceptable negligence”. Even a transcript was never taken of those tapes.

If one is dealing with the worst mass murder in Canadian history, why would one not preserve every last piece of evidence the authorities were able to uncover or gather in the investigation? Not only did they erase tapes, but members of CSIS broke the law by allegedly swearing false affidavits in order to convince the judge to issue warrants to wiretap telephone conversations. Then they deliberately misled the court into issuing warrants.

American authorities were able to uncover a plot to assassinate Rajiv Gandhi, the prime minister of India at that time. CSIS was tapping the phones and monitoring the activities of Sikh extremists in Canada. In the weeks preceding the Air-India disaster, CSIS agents actually saw the two prime suspects detonating a bomb in the woods outside Duncan, B.C.

Can we believe this? Notwithstanding that information and in spite of the fact that they were actually listening in on telephone conversations, they discontinued the surveillance on those two individuals. Why did they do that? Did they assume that these people were making bombs to be used in acts of terrorism outside Canada? Why did they not take action on the wiretap evidence they had? These interceptions could very well have led the police to foil or prevent this act of terrorism. There are many very disturbing unanswered questions in this tragedy.

The largest terrorist disaster in Canadian history has become an embarrassment for the government and affects our international reputation. The Air-India bombing tragedy was an act of international terrorism. There is evidence to suggest that there was pressure by foreign governments on the Canadian government not to hold a royal commission of inquiry because of the international implications of what happened.

Today Sikhs are celebrating Vaisakhi on Parliament Hill at 6 p.m. in Room 200, West Block. In fact, all MPs, senators and staff are invited. Sikhs are especially eager to get to the bottom of what happened during the Air-India investigation. Since the 1985 bombing, a black cloud has been hanging over the entire Indo Canadian community, but particularly over Sikhs, both in Canada and abroad. We need to bring closure to this case so that the cloud may finally be lifted and we all can move on. Not only will this bring peace of mind, but it will also help restore a Sikh image harmed by the bombing.

Sikhs have prospered in this country, helping to strengthen Canada's social, economic, political and cultural fabric. We have the highest per capita income, education and land holdings among ethnic communities in North America, according to a U.S. congressional report. Professionally, Sikhs hold numerous prestigious positions. That is the image that should come to mind when people think of Sikhs. We need a public inquiry so the black cloud can be lifted forever.

By not calling an inquiry into this affair, the Liberals are breaking yet another promise. Earlier Liberal MPs John Nunziata, John Turner, Sergio Marchi and Brian Tobin, a long list, made demands for a public inquiry. Former Solicitor General Herb Gray said a royal commission into the 1985 Air-India bombing was still a possibility after the investigation finished.

The Liberal MP for Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, who also wrote the book Betrayal: The Spy Canada Abandoned about the links between a Canadian spy and an Indian plot for a second terrorist bombing, said last week that the government should hold a public inquiry, but that it should be “narrowly focused”, should not be a “lawyer's feast” and must be done in two or three months.

Last week Liberal Senator Mobina Jaffer broke away from the party to urge the government to “do the right thing” and hold a public inquiry into the handling of the Air-India investigation. She said, “the families have suffered for 20 years without justice”.

Herb Dhaliwal, former Liberal MP and senior minister from B.C. under Jean Chrétien, said that the public safety minister's offer to meet with the victims' families to explain how police and intelligence procedures had changed since the bombing was “absolutely not enough”. He joined in the demand for a full public inquiry into the Air-India disaster, charging that it would be a betrayal of years of Liberal promises if the government rebuffed such demands. This is a former Liberal member who said that.

The Liberals will be breaking a promise that dates back to the late 1980s if they fail to call an inquiry. The Liberals had promised repeatedly to hold an inquiry going back to the time when they were in opposition. They should not sidestep that promise now. That is what the member said.

Jean Chrétien campaigned in 1993 to call a public inquiry but broke his promise. There has been no parliamentary inquiry whatsoever into this terrorist act. The worst Canadian terrorist activity did not prompt the government to have anti-terrorist legislation. It was 9/11 that prompted it to introduce anti-terrorism legislation, not the worst disaster in Canadian history.

As a member of Parliament in 1998, I presented a motion for production of papers, P-11, to produce documents related to the bombing. Instead of waiting for 45 days, according to the standing orders of the House, I had to wait for two years. I had to reintroduce my motion. Rather than producing the documents, the government House leader forced me to withdraw my motion in 2000.

For years there have been calls for a public inquiry into the Air-India investigation. Those calls only intensified last month with the not guilty verdict. On the very day of the verdict the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and the Deputy Prime Minister issued a resounding “no” to those calls. She instead promised to personally meet with the victims of the families to explain why this could never happen again.

The Deputy Prime Minister speaks in patronizing tones in dismissing the calls for an inquiry. She wants to take victims' families through all that has changed in the last 20 years. What we want is to be taken through an explanation of how the government could botch its case, allowing for only a single conviction after 20 years, with a mere five year sentence. What these families want is justice. What Canadians want is justice.

Have things improved since then? On January 11 of this year lawyers for alleged terrorist Adil Charkaoui moved to have the case against their client dropped after CSIS destroyed notes from two interviews with him. Federal Court Justice Simon Noel admonished the spy agency for destroying the notes and ended up releasing the suspected al-Qaeda terrorist on $50,000 bail.

The destruction of wire-tap evidence even received the wrath of a U.S. judge during the trial of attempted millennium bomber Ahmed Ressam. U.S. district court judge John Coughenour slammed CSIS and the Canadian government during Ressam's trial stating, “I'm disturbed that the tape recordings don't exist any more. Apparently, that's the Canadian way of doing things”.

In conclusion, the Deputy Prime Minister is cool to the idea of a public inquiry saying that she would have to be convinced that an inquiry could shed new light on the affair. After 20 years and $130 million, Canadians deserve more than a shrug of the shoulders and a claim things have changed.

There is no justice in what the Liberals are offering. A public inquiry is needed to answer the serious questions raised about the investigation into the Air-India bombing.

We must have a final and clear answer to the issues surrounding this tragedy. While a public inquiry may not answer questions about guilt or provide the necessary evidence to ultimately pursue a successful prosecution, it would provide answers as to what went wrong in the investigation process. It would go--

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Hon. Jean Augustine)

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Toronto--Danforth.

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10:35 a.m.


Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Madam Speaker, first let me congratulate the member for having brought forward this very important motion. I know how intensely personal this issue is for him and for the community that he represents. I am honoured to be able, on behalf of the New Democratic Party of Canada, to second the motion.

We are at the time of Vaisakhi, and it is time that we recognize the enormous and positive contributions of Sikhs in this community. I can testify that individuals in my own riding from the families are feeling this same kind of impact that the hon. member just referenced. My hope is that we will move soon to recognize the Five Ks of Sikhism in this House as another gesture that we can pursue.

I also want to indicate our sympathy and extend our condolences to the families who have been affected and to the whole community. Indeed many of the families to whom we would want to extend condolences were completely wiped out as a result of this murderous and horrific act.

I have a constituent, Nicola Kelly, whose mother was one of the victims. I had a chance to meet with her and others as did the Leader of the Opposition meet with families.

I simply want to say in brief commentary that it is vitally important that there be a public inquiry. This public inquiry could address key questions. First, why was this not prevented in the first place? Second, why did it take 20 years to bring accused to court? Third, why, how and by whom was crucial evidence destroyed? Fourth, what problems in our justice system exist that prevent us from handling effectively and fairly terrorist cases of such magnitude? Canadians need answers to these questions. Finally, how could we prevent a recurrence?

I would like to invite the member, if he wishes, to comment further on the need for an inquiry, but most simply and important, I wish to indicate that we stand fully behind this resolution.

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10:40 a.m.


Gurmant Grewal Conservative Newton—North Delta, BC

Madam Speaker, first, I thank the Leader of the New Democratic Party for seconding the motion and for his support on the motion. He has made some good comments. I agree with what he has stated. Canadians deserve justice. The families of the victims deserve justice.

We need to learn lessons to correct the gross failures of the system. As the House knows, the criminal trial only dealt with the guilt or innocence of the two accused and not of all the suspects. Most of the failures of the system were not even touched. Only a public inquiry can find out the details on the failures of the system and can suggest effective remedies to prevent such incidents from happening again.

Soon the appeals for the civil lawsuits will be over. The excuses given by the government will not be there any more. They will be out of the way, and the government will be free to call a public judicial inquiry.

The loss to the families is irreversible, but such tragedies can recur and must be prevented. A public inquiry will protect innocent Canadians from a recurrence of such heinous terrorist activities. We all know there are so many drawbacks in the system. To reach to the depth, to the bottom of the situation, a public inquiry is a must.

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10:40 a.m.

Etobicoke North Ontario


Roy Cullen LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Madam Speaker, we all want to express our deepest sympathies for the families of the victims of the Air-India bombing, the single largest terrorist attack in Canadian history. It is a tragedy to the hundreds of families, and we should never forget the suffering they have endured.

The Deputy Prime Minister will be speaking very shortly and I will be speaking later, so I will not get into the main thrust of what I want to say. However, I have a couple of questions for the member.

In the motion he is calling for an independent judicial inquiry. In his remarks he talked about a public inquiry. Could the member elaborate on precisely what he is looking for?

Right now, for example, we have the Justice Gomery inquiry looking into the sponsorship situation. We have Justice O'Connor looking into the Arar situation. Is that the kind of public inquiry he is seeking?

With respect to the O'Connor inquiry, does he see any potential overlap with what Justice O'Connor is doing vis-à-vis looking at the relationship between CSIS and the RCMP and what this proposal would contemplate?

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10:45 a.m.


Gurmant Grewal Conservative Newton—North Delta, BC

Madam Speaker, first, I would like to acknowledge and share with members in the House that the enormity of this tragedy cannot be overstated. This is a non-partisan issue. Members from all sides of the House sympathize with the tragedy. However, after 20 years, where are we heading? What did we accomplish? Have we served justice to the families of the victims? Have we learned any lessons?

As I stated, only a judicial inquiry can give us some answers and provide us some lessons that we can learn from the tragedy.

The judicial inquiry is a public inquiry which is headed by a judge and its mandate is focused. That is why I said a judicial inquiry in my motion.

I think the members in this House would agree with me that prevention is the key. Even a common sense approach would have prevented those errors from happening. Now we need to secure our transport industry, our borders and the integrity of our borders. We have to provide Canadians a safe environment in which to live.

In this century, terrorism is going to be a serious threat. We should deal with terrorists, terrorism and terrorist organizations within our borders. We must develop cooperation at the international level to deal with the serious threat of terrorism in this century.

I think the inquiry would be in order. I am sure the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety will stand to speak and will order a public inquiry at her convenience.

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10:45 a.m.


Serge Ménard Bloc Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, first I want to join the previous speakers in congratulating the hon. member for Newton—North Delta for introducing this motion. In Quebec, we also share the pain of the victims' families and we have questions that require detailed answers. The hon. member is offering a good solution.

I also agree with him that this must not be viewed as a partisan issue. After all, members of all the parties in this House have called for a commission of inquiry. The parties that used to be in power were asked to establish a commission of inquiry and both gave the same response: no.

Among all the excellent reasons he presented so eloquently, I notice that he missed one. Is it because he does not feel it is or was significant enough not only in the prevention, but in the investigation that followed? I am talking about the rivalry that seems to exist between the two public bodies in charge of protecting our safety. Their mandates are quite different. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service mandate is not the same as the RCMP mandate, but both mandates were once carried out by a single body.

Does he think we should go back to having a single body in Canada that takes care both of preventing terrorist acts and of prosecuting terrorists who are not stopped in time? Does he think this may have played a role?

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10:50 a.m.


Gurmant Grewal Conservative Newton—North Delta, BC

Madam Speaker, it is a known fact that there was bungling by CSIS, the RCMP and various federal government institutions in the Air-India bombing fiasco.

Despite the fact that the warnings to authorities were given from outside Canada, the terrorist conspiracy was hatched and executed in Canada and still the Canadian system could not prevent that from happening.

What is the guarantee that it will not happen in the future? We need to review the whole security issue in a broader spectrum. I do not know what the solution could be, but certainly there should be cooperation among security agencies, not confrontation.

That is why a public inquiry is important. We need to find a solution and get to the bottom of the investigation.

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10:50 a.m.

Edmonton Centre Alberta


Anne McLellan LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to speak on the opposition motion before the House today, about a tragedy that took place 20 years ago.

On June 23, 1985, 329 people perished when Air-India flight 182 went down off the coast of Ireland. Entire families were lost. Children were orphaned. Parents and grieving families were left behind. Two hundred seventy-eight Canadians were on board and lost their lives.

On that day terrorism became a reality for all of us. Long before the events of September 11, 2001 brought terrorism into stark relief for the entire world, we knew evil.

In the 20 years since Air-India, there have been a number of investigations, inquires and several trials: the Seaborn report, the Security Intelligence Review Committee examination, the Canadian Aviation Safety Board report, the Kirpal commission of inquiry in India, the Cork inquiry in Ireland, the Reyat proceedings, and most recently the Malik and Bagri proceedings. Today's transportation and security systems have been fundamentally transformed as a result. We as a government continue to build on what has been done to date.

I believe that we need to take stock of what we have learned in order to better understand what remains to be learned. Therefore I will seek independent advice from an eminent person who can review all the material related to the Air-India bombing, someone who can meet the families and interview government officials so that he or she can give me independent advice in relation to outstanding questions of public interest which could be answered today, 20 years after this tragic event.

This review can only begin once we have determined whether the province of British Columbia will appeal the decision of Mr. Justice Josephson. If the province proceeds with an appeal, that must take priority and this process must await the result of that appeal.

This process of seeking independent advice will enable us to identify a way forward that can resolve any remaining public interest questions and build on the progress that we have made and the conclusions that have been drawn since June 23, 1985. Before I take any action, I want to meet the families next week as the start of an ongoing dialogue so that we have a good understanding of what questions remain unanswered for them.

I have been struck by the comments from some of the victims' families. They want to be sure that things have changed so that this tragedy is never repeated, so that no one else has to live with the pain and hurt that they carry every day. I share their commitment. I would like to assure the families and the House that things have changed since 1985.

I believe there is no greater responsibility for government than ensuring the safety and security of its citizens. The Government of Canada takes this job very seriously.

As we start this day of important debate, I believe it is important that we begin with the shared understanding of all that has happened since 1985 as we have worked together to create a safer and more secure country.

The investigation into this disaster is the longest and certainly most complex investigation in the history of the Canadian legal system. The RCMP has been investigating this incident for 19 years with the assistance of our law enforcement partners in Europe, India, North America and Asia. In fact, this investigation continues today. The Government of Canada's support of this investigation goes beyond the efforts of the individual departments and law enforcement agencies to get to the bottom of what happened that day and in the time leading up to the tragedy.

For example, in recognition of the difficulty and financial hardship that attending the trial might impose on families of the victims, the Government of Canada paid all of the costs of victims' family services, transcription, court reporting, and judiciary support, as well as courtroom and building security. We also covered half the costs of legal aid, prosecution management services, communications and media relations, audio visual costs and operating technologies.

That was the right thing to do. In short, the Government of Canada has devoted resources and efforts to bringing to justice those responsible for the deaths of the passengers and crew of flight 182. This includes the RCMP investigation, but also the other investigations and inquiries I mentioned earlier by our government as well as the governments of India and Ireland.

As we can see, the governments around the world have looked into this matter in detail and we have acted on the findings of these studies. We have been working diligently for the last 19 years to ensure with the greatest extent of certainty that is possible that such a disaster does not occur again.

An important step toward greater aviation security involved commissioning the Seaborn report. This document resulted in a number of actions taken by Transport Canada to enhance the security of our aviation system.

Time does not permit me to go into great detail this morning, but foremost among the changes were stringent requirements that forbade the carrying of checked baggage on international flights unless the checked passenger was also on board. This has since been extended to include domestic flights as well.

It is important to note that the actions we undertook put Canada at the forefront of international efforts against terrorist threats. We provided a model of excellence that was adopted by other countries in the International Civil Aviation Organization. Throughout the late 1980s and 1990s, Transport Canada continued to improve aviation security. Of course, the tragic events of September 11, 2001 shone a new light on how we ensure the safety and security of our skies.

The 2001 budget invested $7.7 billion over five years to help in the fight against terrorism and reinforce public security. It included $2.2 billion over five years to new aviation security initiatives.

Some of the actions we took included establishing the Canadian Airport Transport Security Authority, CATSA, to provide key air security services, and the installation of advanced explosives detection systems at Canadian airports that will cover 99% of all passengers travelling throughout our country and beyond.

We also placed armed RCMP officers on board selected domestic and international flights and provided $35 million in funding to help airlines undertake security modifications, like reinforcing cockpit doors.

More recently the government reaffirmed its commitment to aviation security improvements by dedicating an additional $16 million over five years to develop systems that will screen airline passenger information.

As we can see, the Government of Canada has been actively working over the past 20 years to make our skies safer for airline passengers and crews. But our accomplishments and lessons learned do not stop at aviation security. We have also been working hard to improve our national security in the aftermath of the Air-India disaster, particularly through the RCMP and CSIS.

Immediately following the crash of flight 182, the RCMP moved quickly to create an Air-India disaster task force, a dedicated team that worked out of both Ottawa and Vancouver. The RCMP also undertook a number of organizational realignments that reflected the changing environment that continues to evolve today. This included the establishment of the national security investigation directorate and the national security operations branch in 1988 and the criminal intelligence directorate in 1991.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service also moved quickly to respond to the Air-India disaster. CSIS enhanced capacity and personnel, and moved away from a focus on the cold war and provided greater attention toward terrorism, including Sikh extremism.

CSIS worked closely with the RCMP to exchange information and move the investigation forward. This close collaboration between the RCMP and CSIS was pointed out in a 1992 report by the arm's length independent security intelligence review committee, which lauded the “immediate and full cooperation” between the two agencies in the aftermath of Air-India. SIRC also highlighted the free exchange of information that took place between the RCMP and CSIS.

A memorandum of understanding was signed in 1987 between the RCMP and CSIS, solidifying this working relationship and clearly delineating their respective roles and responsibilities for Canada's national security agenda.

Since then, the relationship between these two agencies has grown stronger as they work shoulder to shoulder to keep Canada and Canadians safe, a fact that has once again been noted by SIRC in recent reports.

Budget 2001 recognized this vital relationship and committed $1.6 billion to increase policing and intelligence efforts in fighting terrorism. Through this investment, CSIS has expanded its investigative capacity by hiring more people, as well as upgrading equipment and technology.

The RCMP has also worked with its partners across the security community in the form of integrated national security enforcement teams in major Canadian cities.

Canada continued to build on this work in the late 1980s and through the 1990s as we entered the new millennium and we were once again brought face to face with evil on September 11, 2001. Since then, Canada has implemented further measures to enhance our national security.

First and foremost, we enacted the Anti-terrorism Act and the Public Safety Act, 2002. These two pieces of legislation were designed to improve Canada's capacity to prevent terrorist attacks, protect our citizens and respond quickly to identify threats.

As always, these objectives are pursued while promoting the values we as Canadians hold dear and the rights and freedoms we are guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Anti-terrorism Act defines terrorist offences and made the financing of terrorism illegal. It also creates offences that criminalize activities, like participating in a terrorist group, actions that take place before a terrorist event can occur. As such, this act is strategic, innovative and, most important, it is preventive.

The measures contained in the Anti-terrorism Act provide the tools the government and law enforcement need to deter, disable, identify, prosecute, convict and punish terrorists.

At the same time, the act protects the expression of political, religious and ideological expression so long as it does not intend to cause harm to Canada, Canadians or our allies around the world.

The Anti-terrorism Act also provides for the listing of terrorist entities, which means, among other things, that financial institutions must report on listed entities' property. Over 400 individuals and organizations are currently listed under these regulations, including Babbar Khalsa and Babbar Khalsa International, entities of a Sikh terrorist organization.

Finally, I cannot discuss enhancements to Canada's national security efforts without mentioning the national security policy that I launched in this House almost one year ago today. The national security policy is an integrated strategy that demonstrates the Government of Canada's leadership and commitment to protecting Canadians. It sets out the government's broad safety and security vision. It articulates our core national security interests, identifies the current threats facing Canadians and provides a blueprint for action to address these threats.

We have learned a lot in the past 20 years and we have acted on what we have learned. The Canada of today is a much different country than the Canada of 1985. We cannot overlook the progress we have made since that tragic day that flight 182 went down, 329 lives were lost forever and innumerable other lives changed forever. We also cannot ignore the longest and most exhaustive criminal investigation in Canada's history that continues to this day and that resulted in the conviction of Inderjit Singh Reyat.

I believe the intentions of the hon. member in putting forth this motion are obviously good but I believe it is premature to call for an inquiry before we speak to the victims' families and hear their specific questions, and before we allow the judicial process to play out, as it must.

Beyond the issue of how we proceed with respect to getting the answers we need, I believe we as Canadians and parliamentarians have another question to consider. As we approach the 20th anniversary of this devastating incident of terrorism, we also must consider what we can do as a government and as a country to commemorate appropriately the innocent men, women and children who lost their lives aboard flight 182.

I am committed to doing the right thing for those who were left behind after this horrible tragedy. I am open to a number of options as to how we move forward to bring closure to this horrible terrorist incident. However I do believe that it would be a disservice to all those who seek justice in this tragedy and, in addition, it would be an affront to the judicial process to support this motion at this time.

Therefore I restate my opposition to the hon. member's motion and I urge my colleagues in the House to join with me in seeking a balanced and measured approach to honouring the victims of Air-India flight 182.

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11:05 a.m.


Gurmant Grewal Conservative Newton—North Delta, BC

Madam Speaker, I listened carefully to the Minister of Public Safety and Deputy Prime Minister and her tone has certainly changed from that of March 16 when she said firmly that there would be no public inquiry. I now see that she is dithering, which confirms that the government is inflicted with a dithering problem. In fact, the Liberals have become serial ditherers on that side.

The minister has made two comments on which I would like to comment. She said that she would seek to get independent advice. The government has been in power for 12 years, since 1993. Did it not seek independent advice in 12 years on this issue? The Deputy Prime Minister, who was the justice minister, knows how much delay has been caused and that justice delayed is justice denied.

She said that she needs a better understanding of this issue. What part of this does she not understand? After 20 years, after investing $150 million, 250 RCMP officers and after listening to 115 witnesses, no justice was received. What further understanding does she need on this issue?

I would also like to point out the latest report from the Auditor General which is so scathing on security issues. Numerous terrorist cells and front organizations continue to remain in Canada according to the CSIS boss. A few years even the current Prime Minister attended a fundraising dinner for the Tamil Tigers, a terrorist organization or a front for a terrorist organization.

All the changes the minister has indicated are simply window dressing.

In January of this year, not back in 1985, lawyers for the alleged terrorist Adil Charkaoui moved to have the case against their client dropped after CSIS destroyed notes from two interviews with him. Federal Court Justice Simon Noel admonished the spy agency for destroying the notes and released the suspected al-Qaeda terrorist on $50,000 bail simply because the changes made were not effective.

The destruction of wiretap evidence even received the wrath of a U.S. judge during the trial of attempted millennium bomber Ahmed Ressam. The U.S. district court judge slammed CSIS and the Canadian government during Ressam's trial, stating:

I'm disturbed that the tape recordings don't exist anymore.... Apparently, that' s the Canadian way of doing things

That is a shame.

When the minister says that she needs independent advice and a better understanding of the situation, how much of a timeframe is she talking about, one week, two weeks? What timeframe does she have in mind, because it is already too late?

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11:10 a.m.


Anne McLellan Liberal Edmonton Centre, AB

Madam Speaker, let me say by way of preface that everybody on this side of the House came here this morning to engage in a non-partisan debate on a very important motion. This is not a partisan issue. I have to put on the record my deep concern in relation to some of the things that I have heard, both from the hon. member who just spoke and from those around him, in terms of the overt politicization of an issue on which we should all be working together.

As the hon. member himself recited some of the things that have happened over the past 20 years, we need to come together, working with the families, which is why I am seeking independent advice from an eminent person. We need to come together to determine what questions that are in the public interest remain unanswered and how we can find answers for those questions today, 20 years after this tragic event.

I do however want to reiterate that much has changed in the past 20 years. I would hope the hon. member does not deny that not only here in this country but around the world, in the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Italy, India, Australia and France, we have learned so much more over the past 20 years about the evil of terrorism and the mechanisms used by those who would commit this evil. We have put in place in this country the things that I have outlined, only some of the detail in terms of what we have learned.

One of the great tragedies coming out of this horrible event would be that the lives of innocent people were lost and the lives of the families of the victims were changed forever. However an additional tragedy would have been if we had not learned from what happened, either the previous government of the right hon. Brian Mulroney or this government, and had stood idly by and not made changes to the way in which we deal with the evil of terrorism and the threat of both domestic and global terrorist activity.

I do believe we have learned and we will continue to learn. In partnership with our allies, we will continue to do that which we believe is necessary to protect Canadians and honest, hard-working, justice-loving people around the world.

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11:15 a.m.


Serge Ménard Bloc Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Madam Speaker, I must say that I share the minister's opinion; it is time to find an appropriate way to commemorate this sad event and honour the victims. However, frankly, does the minister not believe that the best way to do this would be to find the answers to their many questions, and as soon as possible?

For example, could this tragedy have been avoided? Did shortcomings in the investigation prevent the real guilty parties from being punished? In my opinion, the answer to these questions is a priority for the victims' families.

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11:15 a.m.


Anne McLellan Liberal Edmonton Centre, AB

Madam Speaker, answers are indeed what everyone wants to see. In fact, there have been some answers provided over the past 20 years.

As I outlined in my remarks, there has been a great deal of process, a great many investigations, reviews and inquiries of one kind or another including a SIRC examination of this matter which issued a very detailed report in relation to some of the questions that have been raised. These questions were raised, quite rightly, by families and others in relation to policies surrounding CSIS, the relationship and the interrelationship between CSIS and the RCMP at that time.

Therefore, over these past 20 years there have been many things that have happened, many reviews and investigations. There have been some answers provided. Perhaps for all of us, and I include myself, some of those answers are hard to accept.

What is important now, as we move forward, is that we identify the remaining questions that are in the public interest and that are capable of answers 20 years later, after the process that has already occurred including the longest criminal investigation and trial in Canadian history and a judgment in which Mr. Justice Josephson in great detail outlined much of the factual context of this terrible tragedy.

At this point we must identify the questions that remain unanswered which speak to the public good. We also need to focus on how we get those answers in a way that potentially can bring closure to the victims' families and to others who have an interest in bringing closure to this horrible event.

That is why today I have announced that I will be asking an eminent person to provide me with that independent advice after meeting with the families. I will do that as well because I want to hear directly from the families.

This eminent person who will be independent of myself, my department and the government will meet with the families, government officials, any other interested parties and stakeholders. The task of this person will be to identify for me and the public, everyone, the questions that in his or her opinion remain unanswered that are in the public good. That individual can also speak to the way forward in terms of helping ensure that we find a mechanism by which we find answers to those questions.

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April 7th, 2005 / 11:20 a.m.


Gurmant Grewal Conservative Newton—North Delta, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Since this is a very important issue, and as the minister said that it is a non-partisan issue, we have some serious questions to ask the Minister of Public Safety. I ask for unanimous consent to extend the question and comment period for another 10 minutes.

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11:20 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Hon. Jean Augustine)

Is there unanimous consent?

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11:20 a.m.

Some hon. members


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11:20 a.m.

Some hon. members


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11:20 a.m.


Serge Ménard Bloc Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Madam Speaker, I examined this file with some emotion. I also heard the remarks and all the pain expressed so eloquently by the member for Newton—North Delta. I fully understand this pain and I assure him that I share it, as does everyone in Quebec who has heard about this tragedy.

We owe it to the victims to learn the truth and that is reason enough for there to be an inquiry. It will provide them with the answers they have been waiting for. There was a long legal process, a long investigation and the results are still, understandably, very painful for all concerned.

I will not repeat these reasons. I think they were expressed adequately and very eloquently by the member for Newton—North Delta. I do believe, however, that there are also numerous other reasons, one in particular being to ensure that this tragedy is not repeated.

We study history in order to learn from the past. If there is any area in which it is important to learn from our past, it is terrorism and all the attacks that have occurred in other countries.

I will begin with the briefest possible summary of the tragic events, which clearly demonstrate that the process which has just come to the end of one important stage, trial by jury, must be pursued further.

On June 23, 1985, an Air-India Boeing 747 exploded over the Atlantic. Everyone on board lost their lives. Of the 329 victims, 278 were Canadians. An immediate link was made to Sikh extremists who were opposed to the Indian government. After an investigation lasting 18 years, with a thousand ups and downs, three accused persons were brought before the courts. In March, however, they were finally found not guilty, for lack of hard evidence.

Since that time, there have been numerous allegations that CSIS, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, had botched the investigation, if not actually tried to cover it up intentionally. This is the largest mass murder in the history of Canada and a real ordeal for all the victims' family members who have recently seen two accused men acquitted for lack of evidence.

A year after the tragedy, although the investigators had reconstructed the chronology of the event, they had laid no charges. There were leads to Sikh extremists, who were placed under surveillance. Sikh militants Parmar and Reyat were arrested by the RCMP for conspiracy, and possession and manufacture of explosives, but they could not be linked to the Air-India attack. They got off with just a fine.

Parmar is known to the intelligence services of several countries. This Canadian citizen, a resident of the Vancouver area, has openly expressed the opinion that Sikhs must unite in battle, and must kill to avenge the storming of the Golden Temple. This is, of course, an opinion shared by very few Sikhs, who are known as a peace-loving people. Having been to India and having some knowledge of the Sikh religion, I know it to be a religion like Christianity characterized by love of others, forgiveness and understanding.

Three weeks before this attack, Air-India had already warned Canadian law enforcement authorities about threats of sabotage it had received. CSIS took these threats very seriously. It gathered video-taped evidence of several conversations during the month of June between Parmar and two other suspects, Bagri and Malak, against whom charges were laid 15 years later.

On March 5, 1985, CSIS put a wiretap on Parmar. On June 4, 1985, CSIS surprised him and another key suspect, Inderjit Singh Reyat, in the process of testing explosives on Vancouver Island, but they thought the two had been testing firearms.

On June 21, 1985, in the course of its surveillance work, CSIS intercepted a call between Parmar and Gill. During the conversation, Parmar asked Gill if he had delivered the papers and clothing to the same place. The latter said he had. The investigators interpreted these words as codes. According to them, “papers” referred to the plane tickets, and “clothing” to the suitcase bombs. In the meantime, Gill left Canada for England. He was never charged.

On June 22, 1985, an East Indian Canadian went up to the Canadian Airlines counter at the Vancouver airport and insisted his bags be ticketed through to India. The clerk, Jeanne Bakemans, initially refused, because the man's seat for his second flight could not be confirmed. After lengthy discussions, she finally took the bags, which contained the bomb that went off at Narita.

Two and a half years after the bombing of flight 182, the victims' families expressed frustration at the amount of time the investigation was taking: no arrest was made in connection with the incident.

On September 14, 1987, the Liberal opposition member, John Nunziata, reported that CSIS had known an attack on an Air India plane was being organized. His remarks created a real storm here in the House.

A week later, the RCMP was accused of being told of the attempt before it occurred. An informer, Paul Bessault, reported giving a tape recording to the RCMP indicating that an attack on an Air India flight was imminent.

In December 1987, the English network of the CBC revealed that CSIS had erased 300 tapes containing information on the bombing of flight 182. The conversations between the prime suspects, including Talwinder Singh Parmar, could have been used in evidence in the RCMP's investigation. Some, like Svend Robinson, believed that the tapes were erased because they contained information that would compromise the RCMP.

On October 15, 1992, Talwinder Singh Parmar was killed in a shootout with Indian police, when he returned to his country. Solicitor General James Kelleher rejected opposition calls for a royal commission into the catastrophe. He insisted that the RCMP had never been informed of the attack.

By the end of April 1995, 10 years after the tragedy, the RCMP investigation still had not solved the case. In an effort to get new evidence and new testimony, the police force offered $1 million to anyone who could provide information leading to an arrest.

The RCMP did identify six major suspects in the Vancouver area. However, it had difficulty gathering evidence and testimony that could help it lay charges in a criminal court. The investigation did, however, reveal who brought the suitcase bombs to the airport, who made the bomb, and who supervised the entire operation. Nonetheless, the RCMP still does not know the identity of the two men who checked the luggage or how they were recruited or paid, but it has a good idea of who it might be.

At Canada's request, Inderjit Singh Reyat was arrested in February 1988, in England, where he had moved in 1986. He was charged with making the bomb that exploded at the Narita airport in Japan. He was extradited to Canada after a lengthy legal battle. Found guilty in 1991, he served 10 years in prison. Shortly before he was to be released, he was suspected of building the other bomb. That is when he was given an additional five-year sentence after pleading guilty to manslaughter. The judge said he was convinced that the accused did not know the bomb he made would be used.

After 15 years of investigation and more than $26 million, the RCMP ended up laying charges against two individuals of Sikh origin. On October 27, 2000, Bagri and Malik were arrested and charged with first degree murder and conspiracy in the explosion of flights 182 and 301.

The trial of Bagri and Malik began on April 28, 2003.

During the trial, the RCMP entered thousands of pages into evidence. In its submission to the judge, the RCMP stated that CSIS, which had wiretapped members of Sikh extremist groups prior to the bombing, had an informant who knew the plane was going to be blown up. Three days before the flight, CSIS apparently asked the informant not to board Air India 182.

On Wednesday, March 16, 2005, Justice Josephson of the Supreme Court of British Columbia acquitted Malik and Bagri. The two men were accused of premeditated murder, attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder following the bombing of Air India's Boeing 747.

The trial lasted 19 months, heard from 115 witnesses and is estimated to have cost $130 million. However, it is not over yet.

A justice of the B.C. Supreme Court criticized CSIS for having destroyed tapes and transcripts of conversations, with a source linked to the bombing, which could have had a drastic impact on the trial. In fact, we still do not know for sure why these tapes were destroyed. Some claim it was a standard procedure, but there is also information to suggest that it was due to rivalry between CSIS and the RCMP.

I believe that a parallel inquiry is essential for a number of reasons. First, there must be answers, once and for all, to all the questions surrounding the largest terrorist attack involving Canada, and second largest in North America after the events of September 11, 2001.

The Liberal Party has, on numerous occasions, promised Canadians that it will hold a public inquiry to find out what led to the Air India bombing. It is time it kept this promise. I fail to understand why it has not, despite the fact that, when the Liberals were in the opposition, they called for such an inquiry. The reasons they give are surprising.

We are currently witnessing a public inquiry involving individuals accused of much less serious offences than this, and their trial has just been set for this June. What is preventing us from repeating this same transparent process, which could provide real answers and assess the evidence, so we can learn the truth about the important issues I will identify in my conclusion?

Twenty years after the tragedy, the families are still waiting for answers. They did get some answers, but not on the extremely important issues. Did the rivalry between the RCMP and CSIS hinder the investigation? Did this kind of rivalry interfere with preventing the attack? What does this bode for the future? Out of respect for the 329 afflicted families, we have to get to the bottom of this. I think that the names of those who are known, even though they may not have been convicted, should be released, as the commission looking into an issue that is no doubt serious, but nothing like 329 dead, has done.

An independent inquiry would prevent such injustice from happening again and would somewhat alleviate the pain and suffering of the families of the victims of the Air India tragedy, who are feeling that the Canadian judicial system has let them down.

Light must absolutely be shed on what the court has described as “unacceptable negligence” in relation to the destruction of evidence by the security intelligence service.

It is absolutely vital that we have an open and transparent process to find out what happened when an Air India airplane crashed. The families have the right to know. The communities have the right to know.

This inquiry was requested by representatives of the Conservative Party. In the past, it was also requested by representatives of the Liberal Party.

On March 21, 2005, former Liberal minister Herb Dhaliwal suggested that the federal Liberals were breaking an oft made promise by refusing to call an inquiry into the terrorist attack against an Air India airplane.

On May 17, 1995, the Liberals put forward a motion calling on the government to initiate a royal commission of inquiry into the Air India disaster of June 23, 1985, which claimed the lives of 329 people.

The motion was eventually struck from the order paper because time was up and there was no unanimous consent to continue.

The NDP supports this motion. The Bloc Québécois does also. So what are we waiting for? It is very important, not only for the families, who are entitled to explanations, but also for the Sikh community, which is also entitled to explanations. There is no doubt whatsoever that involving a justice of a higher court, with its acknowledged impartiality, would result in people being aware of the difference between these few terrorists and the Sikh community as a whole, and would make that community better known in Quebec.

I can still remember the coroner's inquest into the killing of Corporal Marcel Lemay by Indians. Right at the start, the coroner set out the legitimate claims of the Indians and what had led to the crisis.

I am certain that an inquiry will never restore the great and honourable reputation of Canada's Sikh community in the eyes of the Canadian public. But there is more to it than that. We are living in a world where terrorism is the main danger.

When I was growing up, the main fear was the atom bomb. Thank God, we avoided that, and now the main threat is terrorist attack. Attacks in defence of the cause of one country can end up impacting on another, as we have seen recently in Spain. So terrorism is an international threat.

The bodies best equipped to protect us from terrorism are the intelligence organizations. There was a time, I know, when these functions were given to the RCMP, which had the double mandate of preventing hostile or terrorist attacks by other nations and of prosecuting the guilty parties when such acts had been committed.

The MacDonald commission determined that these two functions were so different that they needed to be separated. It is clear, however, that both these activities involve policing methods that overlap.

I think it is time to take a look and see whether the split was a good thing. It is true that security agencies, like many organizations making use of secret information, have the unfortunate habit of guarding their secrets jealously. Remarkable progress can be made in investigations, however, when these bodies decide to pool their information. It has to remain secret, of course, to ensure successful infiltration.

We proved this point in Quebec in our fight against biker gangs. Once the Sûreté du Québec, the Montreal police and the RCMP had been convinced to work together, we made progress and managed to break the threat to public security posed by the Hells Angels.

I can see the United States is doing the same thing at the moment with the creation of the new homeland secretariat

This is one of the questions that the commission of inquiry must examine. I repeat, I fully agree that this matter must not be partisan. Representatives of all parties in this House have called for an inquiry.

The reasons the minister gave recently are unsatisfactory, particularly since there is a commission of inquiry, the Gomery commission, and people have been charged. Furthermore, how long are we going to wait? We have already waited 20 years. I think it is time for us and the victims to have answers, since we are facing similar dangers and have to know what went wrong so we can move forward and avoid other terrorist attacks.

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11:40 a.m.

Etobicoke North Ontario


Roy Cullen LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin for presenting a good summary of the tragedy that occurred on June 23, 1985 and of the subsequent events.

Through his exceptional experience as justice minister in Quebec, the hon. member understands Canadian law and the legal system very well. He also understands that the Attorney General of British Columbia was asked to rule on whether to appeal the verdict or not and still has not announced his decision. The Crown has three days to appeal a ruling.

The motion introduced today by the Conservative Party calls for an independent judicial inquiry.

I ask the hon. member for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin then, how can we hold an inquiry before the Attorney General of British Columbia hands down his decision?

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11:40 a.m.


Serge Ménard Bloc Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Madam Speaker, I think I have already answered that question. It would be for the same reasons that the Liberals used to create the Gomery commission, knowing as they did that the individuals were facing charges.

In my opinion, common law, with its rules dictating the precautions that must be taken to ensure the courts can render impartial decisions without undue influence, is much more flexible than civil law, which seeks to set out specific rules in clear regulations.

I have always preferred the rule of common law, because it is flexible: it depends on the circumstances. It means that the courts can render their decision without undue outside influences. That is what the member is referring to, I believe: the member is afraid that a commission of inquiry might have an undue influence on the decision of the courts.

However, people say that the higher the court, the less susceptible it is to outside influences. That is why judges are appointed for life or until retirement during good behaviour. Also, judges are taught to base their determination solely on admissible evidence, something that jurors are not trained to do. That is why it is best to protect the independence of jurors by not making certain things public.

This rule has evolved over time. I know, for example, that, with regard to the October crisis, the coroner's inquest was held up until after the trial of one of the accused.

However, the rules have changed, and there is clear evidence of this: charges were laid in connection with the sponsorship scandal, then the Liberals created a commission of inquiry into that scandal.

As a criminal lawyer, I have defended some highly publicized cases, such as the one involving Officer Gosset, who had the misfortune of accidentally killing—so I believe and two juries believed—a black man on November 11, 1987. This was one of the most highly publicized cases I have ever defended. The case was tried before two juries in Montreal, and I am convinced that they were able to set aside the information they had heard.

I do not, therefore, see how the Attorney General of British Columbia could be influenced either way by the creation of a commission of inquiry. I am absolutely certain that the British Columbia appeal court would not be influenced, and I am even more certain that, if it goes to the Supreme Court, there will be no influence whatsoever. If, after these long legal debates, it were to end up before another jury, that jury would be as intelligent as any other Canadian jury that has had to reach a verdict on a very high profile case. At any rate, as time passes, any verdict would be based solely on the evidence presented.

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11:45 a.m.


John Duncan Conservative Vancouver Island North, BC

Madam Speaker, I want to compliment the member for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin on his presentation.

With respect to what the B.C. government and the attorney general of the province might do in this case, I wonder if the member is aware, and this has been revealed by the British Columbia attorney general, that when Martin Cauchon was the federal justice minister, he put pressure and tied funding for the Air-India bombing disaster to the immigrant settlement provisions, the funding formula for British Columbia which was very unfavourable to British Columbia. He basically threatened that if B.C. did not accept that funding formula, the federal contribution toward the cost of the Air-India case would be cut. Certainly without federal cooperation this would create quite a problem for the province. There are ways to influence things and there was an obvious attempt to do that.

I wonder how much awareness the member would have had with his strong background in that area.

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11:45 a.m.


Serge Ménard Bloc Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Madam Speaker, the hon. member has just told me something I have trouble believing. I would never have believed there could be such influence. It is not because Mr. Cauchon was a member of another party that I could believe such a thing. On the contrary, with what I know of him and his reputation, it would seem to me that he would not have done such a thing. I cannot, therefore, readily comment on this. Obviously, however, if such a thing had been done, I would find it absolutely scandalous.

Personally, as I have already said, I think the approach to this discussion has to be non-partisan. I believe that a number of those involved did what they felt they had to do. I would, however, like to see a judge look at the rivalry between CSIS and the RCMP at that time, to give us some idea about and in particular to indicate to us whether such things could happen again and do harm to an inquiry.

As for the allegations made by the hon. member, this is the first time I have heard such a thing. I knew Mr. Cauchon very well, so I would be extremely surprised if he had done such a thing. If he had, I would certainly feel less than the great esteem I have for him at the moment.