Canadian PM steps in to defuse Kanishka impasse

Stephen Harper has stepped in to defuse a dispute that might lead to collapse of A-I trial.

india Updated:

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has stepped in to defuse a bitter dispute over top-secret government documents that could lead to the collapse of the Air-India Kanishka inquiry.

On Monday, in hard-hitting language, retired Supreme Court judge John Major, who is leading the 1985 Kanishka inquiry, had threatened to close down the crash investigation unless the federal government released thousands of secret documents.

Harper ordered national security officials Tuesday to look into the whole issue and swiftly expedite the investigation, the Star newspaper reported.

Major expressed frustration with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the department of foreign affairs for citing national security in denying information to the inquiry commission.

"Let me be clear that I have instructed, and it is my understanding, that Justice Major has been given unedited all documents that related to the Air India inquiry, " Harper said.

He also expressed his surprise at the news of Major's frustration.

Harper also downplayed the amount of information involved in the dispute.

"What is at issue is in about 10 percent of the cases a dispute about what by law can and cannot be made public. I have instructed my national security adviser to meet with people in the various departments to impose a non-restrictive interpretation of the law and to expedite resolution of this dispute as quickly as possible," he said.

First Published: Feb 22, 2007 13:04 IST