Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized on behalf on the country’s Government for its failure to prevent the bombing of an Air India flight in 1985 that led to the death 329 persons, many of them Canadians of Indian origin, as well as to the families of the victims.
Speaking at Commemoration Ceremony in Toronto for Air India Flight 182, the Canadian Prime Minister said, “I stand before you therefore, to offer on behalf of the Government of Canada, and all Canadians, an apology for the institutional failings of 25 years ago and the treatment of the victims` families thereafter.”
He criticised the lack of acceptance of that tragedy as an “outrage” that was “made in Canada”.
He said that the “atrocity” was conceived and executed in Canada, by Canadian citizens.
While Sikh terrorists were behind the 1985 Kanishka bombing, Harper made it clear that there would be no compromise on the issue of terrorism, even if it was directed as India from Canadian soil.
He said, “It is incumbent upon us all, not to reach out to, but rather to marginalise, to carefully and systematically marginalise, those extremists who seek to import the battles of India’s past here and then to export them back to that great and forward-looking nation.”
Recently, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had communicated to his Canadian counterpart the growing concern within India that pro-Khalistan separatist elements were being allowed to regroup in Canada.
Harper’s apology came soon after an official report from an Ottawa-based Commission of Enquiry looking into the tragedy placed the blame for the tragedy squarely on the Canadian government for its multiple failures leading to the incident, compounded by more failures in the subsequent probe. That Commission was headed by former Canadian Supreme Court judge John C Major.
Justice Major had remarked that “a cascading series of errors contributed to the failure of our police and security forces to prevent this atrocity.” He had also recommended a formal apology from the Canadian Government to the families of the victims.