It has been twenty years since the worst mass murder and terrorist act in Canada's history took place, with the loss of Air India Flight 182. We are no closer to seeing justice done than we were on June 23rd, 1985. On that day, 329 mostly Canadian lives were consumed by an explosion at 31,000 feet and their bodies were buried in the Irish Sea. Two more lives were lost at Narita Airport in Japan shortly before Air India 182 went down.
Their histories will live on as a shameful example of Canada's inability to deal with reality. Their futures and those of their descendants are forever lost to us. In good conscience, we cannot go into that future without the illumination of a public judicial inquiry on behalf of the familes and on behalf of the future safety of all Canadians.
After the recent verdict of innocence, I was extremely impressed by the reactions of the families. Although they were deeply hurt by the apparent lack of justice, they all spoke passionately and calmly and with a deep respect for being Canadian. Their grace and dignity in a very difficult and painful situation set a fine example. We owe them the closure and justice that are being denied.
It has been twenty years of justice delayed, and there is no question that this is now justice denied. The Canadian justice system has been tied in knots of impotence by those who are clever enough and rich enough to do so. The members of the RCMP, CSIS and other organizations have undoubtedly done their best. The net result, however, is that someone has gotten away with 331 counts of first-degree murder.
Justice Josephson said in his judgment that the acquittals of Ajaib Singh Bagri and Ripudaman Singh Malik were the result of unacceptable negligence in the handling of evidence. It took twenty years to get to this point. We're no smarter or more reassured that we have fixed the situation, let alone brought the guilty parties to justice. On a scale of lives lost, this is 165 times more egregious than the miscarriage of justice in the O.J. Simpson case.
We have no decent option other than holding a full public judicial inquiry into this case. It will not be about guilt or innocence for the crime. It will be about the ability of our public safety and security apparatus to ensure our safety. It will be about finding out how terrorist individuals and organizations could have so effectively manipulated our security and justice systems.
The Deputy Prime Minister, Solicitor General, and Minister for Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Anne McLellan, spoke in Parliament yesterday about the futility of a public judicial inquiry. Instead, she will seek advice from an eminent but un-named Canadian, before she proceeds.
She opines that it might be premature to hold an inqury. Premature?! Twenty years!? After she has consulted the mystery Canadian, she will have a chat with the families and listen to what are their concerns. Madam, they have given you their concerns loud and clear. They want a public judicial inquiry. Please quit hiding behind your authority and ability to prevaricate and obfuscate and respond.
She wondered aloud about whether B.C. might appeal the Josephson decision and said that any public judicial inquiry couldn't take place while that appeal was in progress. Nonsense. The appeal would address the evidence and the public judicial inquiry would address the process.
She spoke of the investigations that our partners-in-justice in India and Ireland had conducted. Indeed they have, and members of their organizations have concluded that our process was flawed and incompetent.
Has anything changed? She would have us think so and, in fairness, some positive changes have been made. However, evidence is still routinely being destroyed, and who knows who will get away with murder in the future because of it? How many witnesses will live under death sentences by organized crime and terrorism and have to live out their days in witness protection programs?
Yesterday in the House, Ms. McLellan and her Parliamentary Secretary did the Ali shuffle that they are so good at. We've already spent $130 million on this case, they offer as a reason to quit. Well folks, you've also spent one billion after another on an idiotic gun registry to absolutely no positive effect. How about giving a bit of the same sticktoitiveness to our national security? I think that Canadians would understand.
The irony is that Canada, itself, was not even the direct target of this heinous crime. Canada is a rich multi-cultural mosaic, and I enjoy that very much. An unfortunate by-product of that benefit is that we have also inherited many Old World hatreds, terrorism and criminality, that are now being played out against Canadian citizens and our country.
Our justice, security and immigration systems have had their hands tied, despite their best intentions and the dedication of the individual members of their organizations. Yesterday, Anne McLellan repeated the old (and true) expression that a government has no greater responsibility to its citizens than to ensure the security of the state. Well, madam, you and your government have let us down in the areas of justice, immigration, national security, national defence, and more. I don't think that you have what it takes to fix it. Move over.