Mr. Speaker, New Democrats welcome this public inquiry into the Air-India disaster announced today by the government. We hope that this inquiry will, at long last, provide answers to the questions that have haunted the victims' families and indeed all Canadians for over two decades.
On June 23, 1985, when Air-India flight 182 exploded off the coast of Ireland, all 389 people aboard, most of whom were Canadian citizens, were killed. There were 82 children among them. Twenty entire families were lost and many more families have been left to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.
This was the largest single act of terrorism and mass murder ever executed against our country. Yet, for two decades, government after government, both Conservative and Liberal, refused to acknowledge the need for a public inquiry.
On March 16, 2005, when the BC Supreme Court acquitted two men on eight charges related to the bombing, it was brought home once again to the families and friends of the victims and to all Canadians that two decades on, there is no justice for those who lost their lives on Air India flight 182.
During the trial, a great deal of gravely concerning evidence came to light about the role of Canada's RCMP and CSIS in the period preceding the bombing and in the years that have followed. This evidence demands greater examination.
Following the trial, New Democrats joined with the families to call upon the Liberal government to pursue a public inquiry. The refusal to do so was an unconscionable denial of justice. It is our sincere hope that this inquiry, announced today, will finally shed light on this dark corner of our collective past.
I join with all New Democrats, and I believe all members in this House, in commending the efforts of the victims' families. For 20 years now they have fought an often solitary battle against a wall of indifference and wilful neglect by the Canadian government. Where there ought to have been comfort, and swift and sure justice, there has been only painful silence.
Today at long last there is hope, hope that the questions which have haunted the victims' families, questions all Canadians are asking, will finally be answered.
As former Supreme Court Justice John Major undertakes this important and long overdue inquiry, we hope that he will endeavour to do so with the highest consideration to the pain and suffering endured by the families and always with their best interests in mind. We are confident that he will do so.
New Democrats trust that, through this inquiry, we will finally comprehend the events which led to the Air-India tragedy, that we may be able to heal the wounds of two decades of neglect, and most importantly, and this is what is so impressive about the families' struggle and effort in this regard, work to find answers that can prevent further such tragedies ever occurring again. With that, we may move forward together with greater understanding.