Canadian minister regrets MPs participation in Sikh parade

The parade glorified the alleged mastermind of an Air-India bombing as a martyr.
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Updated on Apr 21, 2007 04:42 PM IST
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PTI | ByHT Correspondent, Toronto

A Canadian minister has expressed regret over the participation of his Conservative Party's parliamentarians in a Sikh parade in British Columbia's Surrey that glorified an alleged terrorist.

"Had we known that this particular event was going to have that kind of an element of extremism, I don't think our MPs would have been there and we'll be very mindful about who's organising that particular event next year," said Jason Kenney, Secretary of State for Multi-culturalism and Canadian Identity.

However, other political parties continue to remain silent on their participation in the event they say was a celebration of Sikh culture, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation said on Saturday.

The parade on April 7 had enraged the Indian government because the organisers had included Talwinder Parmar, a militant advocate of 'Khalistan', in their display of Sikh martyrs and saints.

Parmar has been identified in a court in British Columbia province as the alleged mastermind behind a mid-air bomb explosion aboard an Air-India flight in 1985 en route from Canada to London that killed 329 people.

Born in Indian Punjab and later made a Canadian citizen, Parmar was killed by police in India in 1992.

Conservative, Liberal and NDP members of Parliament as well as British Columbia's Premier Gordon Campbell had attended the event last week. A week after the parade, federal NDP leader Jack Layton visited the temple that organized the event.

Indian officials had planned to launch a protest with Canadian authorities over the parade. "We are very much concerned that this happened," India's deputy consul-general in Canada Zile Singh said, adding the portrayal of Parmar as a martyr was "very objectionable."

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