House of Commons photo

Elsewhere

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was liberals.

Last in Parliament November 2005, as Conservative MP for Newton—North Delta (B.C.)

Won his last election, in 2004, with 33% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Supply April 7th, 2005

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.

Supply April 7th, 2005

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--

Pope John Paul II April 5th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, the constituents of Newton--North Delta and I are deeply saddened by the passing of His Holiness Pope John Paul II.

The world has lost a champion of freedom and peace. He delivered powerful messages of harmony and democracy to the world during his 26 year papacy. In more than 170 visits to nearly 130 countries, he was tireless in his efforts to defend freedom and human rights. He was a constant voice for justice, non-violence and reconciliation for both individuals and nations.

Pope John Paul II was a man of extraordinary faith and courage. He never wavered in his struggle for what he thought was right. He led the Catholic Church with dignity, grace and purpose. He was and continues to be an inspiration to not only the one billion members of the Catholic Church but also to all other people of faith around the world.

May God bless his memory.

Petitions April 5th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today on behalf of the constituents of Newton--North Delta to present several petitions calling upon Parliament to use forcible legislative and administrative measures to preserve and protect the current definition of marriage as being a lifelong union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others and to recognize that marriage is the best foundation for families and the raising of children.

Air-India April 4th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, a public inquiry is needed to answer the serious questions raised about the investigation into the Air-India bombing. After the worst Canadian terrorist disaster, 20 years later and $120 million, Canadians deserve more than a shrug of the shoulders and a claim that things have changed.

There is no justice in what the Liberals are offering. What more will it take to convince the Deputy Prime Minister that a public inquiry is needed into the whole fiasco?

Air-India April 4th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, Canadians want closure to the sad story of the Air-India bombing. We must have final and clear answers to the issues surrounding this tragedy, including what went wrong in the investigative process.

A public inquiry would ensure this gross injustice never happened again. This case has been an absolute farce from the beginning with the judicial system and the families of the victims the clear losers.

When will the government allow justice to be served? When will it call a public inquiry into the Air-India fiasco?

Civil Marriage Act April 4th, 2005

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise on behalf of the constituents of Newton—North Delta to participate in the debate on Bill C-38, the civil marriage act.

In my eight years as a member of Parliament, there has never been an issue that has so inflamed and divided Canadians as the current debate over same sex marriage.

Unlike the Prime Minister and other members of his party, I have been consistent on this issue from day one. I oppose changing the definition of marriage and will vote against Bill C-38.

In 1999 I spoke in favour of reaffirming the traditional definition of marriage. In fact I led off the debate on the Reform Party motion which passed on a vote of 216 to 55. In 2003 I rose in this chamber to speak in support of another opposition motion seeking to preserve traditional marriage. By that time however, government members, including the current Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister, who had voted to support the traditional definition of marriage had backed down from their commitment to marriage and traditional Canadian family values.

I have consulted widely with my constituents on the issue of marriage. I have had several well-attended town hall meetings on the issue and have conducted surveys. I have heard from more than 14,000 people through letters, e-mails, phone calls and meetings.

During the 2004 election, voters knew exactly where I stood on the same sex marriage issue.

I think most Canadians would agree that gays and lesbians should be free to pursue whatever type of relationship they wish. I see no problem in legally recognizing homosexual relationships, but this should not be done by changing marriage. In 1999 homosexual couples were given pension, property and other rights by changing 68 federal statutes through Bill C-23. If there are any pending rights, they should be allowed.

Marriage is something more than a public recognition of a couple's mutual love and commitment. It is intimately connected to procreation. The procreative potential of marriage is a basic element of what marriage is, just as swimming is a basic element of being a lifeguard, and playing music is a basic element of being a musician.

Marriage provides the structure which protects the procreation and nurturing of children in our society. That is why it is self-evident to most people in history that marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman. A homosexual couple does not meet the qualifications for the title of “married”.

Abraham Lincoln, when debating an individual, sought to resolve the issue with a question, “Sir, if you call a tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have?” “Five”, responded the gentleman. Lincoln corrected the man, “Four, sir. Just because you call a tail a leg doesn't make it so”.

The Liberals are committing the same folly. Just because one calls it a marriage does not make it so. It is an exercise in self-deceit, a denial of reality.

During my years in elected office I have been involved in a number of debates involving measures that deal with discrimination. I have supported legislation in this House and have spoken repeatedly to prohibit inappropriately unequal treatment of individuals based on race, religion, gender, disability and sexual orientation. I have been outspoken on the need to protect the human rights of all people, whether they be Falun Gong practitioners in China, Muslims in Gambia, South Asians living in Canada, or people in labour camps in Tibet. I have spoken with Chinese officials on their human rights record. I have been an advocate of the Human Rights Commission in B.C.

The Liberals are attempting to frame the issue of same sex marriage in the context of justice and human rights. In doing so they are insulting all those people in the world who suffer from human rights abuses on a daily basis.

How could the Liberals equate the denial of marriage to homosexuals to unlawful imprisonment, abuse, torture, denying voting rights or freedom of speech?

The Prime Minister is playing crass politics when he paints gay marriage as a human rights issue. He knows that Canadians will not accept same sex marriage on its own merits, so he is attempting to tie it to human rights and charter issues dear to the hearts of Canadians. While this may be politically opportunistic, manipulative and beneficial, morally it is dishonest.

In fact, no national or international court or human rights tribunal at the national or international level has ever ruled that same sex marriage is a human rights issue. After New Zealand's court of appeal ruled in 1997 that the opposite sex definition of marriage was not discriminatory and that it did not violate the country's bill of rights, the plaintiffs took their case to the UN Commission on Human Rights. The commission rejected the complaint in 2002.

The Prime Minister and his justice minister claim that the Supreme Court has forced their hand knowing full well it did nothing of the sort. The Supreme Court delivered its opinion on the non-binding marriage reference on December 9. The court refused to answer the fourth question, whether the Charter of Rights and Freedoms requires that marriage be redefined. While the Supreme Court has said that Parliament may redefine marriage, it has not said that it must redefine marriage to include same sex couples.

It is not unjust nor a limitation of anyone's legitimate rights and freedoms to insist that marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman. The definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others does not discriminate against homosexuals any more than someone getting the child tax credit discriminates against people who do not have kids. The Prime Minister and his colleagues knew this in 1999. To suggest now that opponents of gay marriage are un-Canadian bigots is disingenuous to the extreme.

This legislation has many Canadians in an uproar, including those in ethnic communities who have moral, cultural and religious beliefs that lead them to oppose same sex marriage. The Liberals argue that those people must abandon their deeply held beliefs so they can be considered Canadians. Linking same sex marriage to what it means to be a Canadian by Liberals is dishonest and shameful.

The Sikh community is struggling with the same sex issue thanks largely to the Liberal government. Our religion does not recognize same sex unions, yet the Canadian government wants us to give up something that is very traditional and very religious. Most Sikhs, like other immigrant groups, are supportive of the Charter of Rights because it helps to protect from discrimination. However, that does not mean they support every Liberal policy put forward in the name of the charter.

It strikes me as inevitable that one day soon churches, temples and synagogues in the country will be compelled to sanctify same sex unions. Soon the protections given to religious officials will be challenged. It will probably begin with the removal of tax exemptions for religious organizations that refuse to solemnize same sex marriages.

There are already divisions within protestant denominations over same sex marriage. The United Church of Canada sanctifies gay marriage, as do some Anglican churches in Canada.

It is a losing battle. Already the morality of homosexuality is a discussion controlled by political correctness. People who say anything in the negative are automatically labelled as homophobic and their arguments are dismissed without further consideration.

The government has assured Canadians that this legislation will have no bearing on the conduct of marriages in churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and gurdwaras, but the Supreme Court has already ruled that this issue falls beyond the jurisdiction of the federal government.

In conclusion, the Liberals have brought forward anti-family policies since 1993. They fail to realize that the family is the foundation of our society. The government should not dare to engineer society. Its flip-flop since 1999 indicates that the government has a hidden agenda.

Same sex partners should be permitted to legally register their relationships if they wish to do so, but as a civil union and not as a marriage. This is a practical solution that would satisfy the vast majority of Canadians. The same privileges and laws would apply to both types of formal relationships. This is a middle way on this issue.

Bill C-38 is bad for Canada. If passed it would undermine the family and strike against a cornerstone of our society. Therefore, I will oppose this bill.

Petitions March 23rd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to present several petitions signed by over 4,500 petitioners from all over Canada.

The petitioners are calling on Parliament to take every administrative and legislative measure necessary to protect and defend the freedom to wear turbans and the five Ks, the symbols of the Sikh religion.

Wearing a turban is part and parcel of the Sikh religious faith. It is contrary to the tenets of the Sikh faith to conceal or cover the turban or head with any kind of object, such as a cap, hat or helmet.

The petitioners pray that Sikh truck operators will be exempt from wearing hard hats and that Canada Labour Code, R.S.C. 1970, c. L-1 not adversely affect members of the Canadian Sikh community.

The petitioners also call upon Parliament to protect the religious practices of Sikhs in all areas of the Canada Labour Code.

Petitions March 21st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of the constituents of Newton—North Delta to present several petitions calling upon Parliament to use all possible legislative and administrative measures to preserve and protect the current definition of marriage as being a lifelong union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others and to recognize that marriage is the best foundation for families and for the raising of children.

Canada-Gabon Tax Convention March 11th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I understand where the member is coming from, particularly on human rights records, which is important to all of us when we deal with a foreign state. However the job of the foreign ministry is to strengthen relationships and sell Canadian values when we go abroad. The diplomats and department officials and bureaucrats should not tell us that we should not raise the issue of human rights when we meet with foreign nationals.

I can remember my personal experience when I was in Tibet and I was told not to raise certain issues with the foreign minister who attended our meeting. I did not care what they were telling me. I raised the issue and I was told that I was one of the first Canadian politicians to raise the human rights issue with the Chinese government.

I then told Chinese officials point blank that I would like to visit their labour camps. I was the first foreign national to visit a labour camp in Tibet. I understand that we have to do our job but we should stand for Canadian values when we go abroad. Human rights are important to all Canadians and when we can talk about them, we should talk about them and we should take a strong stand.

On the other hand, the government's record is weak and it continues to be weak in closing the tax loopholes and tax havens. In fact, it is moving in the other direction. The five major banks are now trying to take advantage. I am sure that hundreds and thousands of other businesses will follow suit if the government does not close those loopholes and tax havens.

Those tax dollars could be spent for Canadian purposes. We know health care is in shambles and students are suffering from a lack of quality education. The money could be used for infrastructure development in our constituencies. Surrey Memorial Hospital and the Delta Hospital in my constituency both need money. They have a shortage of beds, doctors, nurses and medicines. We need tax dollars to be spent in Canada not siphoned out of Canada to tax havens.

I want to make a final comment with respect to our relationship with the United States. Our government has been dithering for five years on signing a tax treaty with the United States. In contrast, the Liberal members, one after the other, stand and make inflammatory and anti-U.S. comments and the Prime Minister does nothing to stop them.

Members of the opposition have raised those issues from time to time but the Liberal government continues to tolerate them, even keeping parliamentary secretaries as well as other members in their positions. Those members should be fired from their positions, which would send a strong message to our American friends that we will not tolerate any kind of nonsense from any member who goes against our American trading partners and our friends and neighbours.

We talk about signing treaties with Americans but the government's actions have been in the opposite direction so far. I would like the Liberals to get their act together.