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NRI, Navdeep Bains's demand for an apology, absolutely unacceptable by PM

Ottawa, Feb. 22, 2007
Darshan Malhotra and J Gill, windsor

On Wednesday, this was one of the nastiest spats in months, sparked a political storm in the House of Commons when Prime Minister, Stephen Harper tried to read from a newspaper article that links a Liberal MP's in-law to the Air India investigation. Outraged Liberal MPs drowned out Prime Minister Stephen Harper with chants of "shame!"

Newspaper article was about to describe an article from the Vancouver Sun pointing out that Darshan Singh Saini, father-in-law of 29-year-old Ontario MP Navdeep Bains was once a spokesman for Babbar Khalsa, a group officially recognized by the Canadian government as a terrorist organization. He is on a list of potential RCMP witnesses in connection with the 1985 Air India bombing that killed 329 people. The RCMP would interview Saini and other witnesses through investigative hearings made possible by the Anti-Terror Act. Those hearings allow the authorities to compel people to testify. This inquiry will be shut down if Stéphane Dion prevails in his new-found and oddly passionate quest to kill provisions of the 2001 Anti-Terrorism Act that permit such investigations.

Dion’s Flip Flop on Anti-Terror Law a Failure of Leadership
Stéphane Dion’s decision to pull his support for Canada’s Anti-Terrorism law at a time when the threat of terrorism is growing constitutes a failure of leadership that could endanger the safety of Canadians. Dion was a Cabinet Minister in the former Liberal government that approved the Anti-Terrorism Act in 2001 following the 9/11 attacks in the United States.

On March 1, that provision of the act will die unless Parliament decides otherwise.

Prime Minister has flatly refused to apologize for comments that suggest the Liberals are refusing to extend anti-terrorism measures in order to protect the Ontario MP Navdeep Bains's father-in-law.

"Mr. Harper's actions today are the worst kind of gutter politics that I have seen in nearly 20 years in this House," said Mr. Goodale.

"His statement severely calls into question his personal judgment," said Mr. Goodale. "This unconscionable attack on a member of parliament can not stand, and speaks volumes about Mr. Harper's style of politics.

Judicial independence

The Liberals are opposed to a three-year extension of that provision, along with one that allows for preventative detention for 72 hours. The preventative detention clause has not been used to this point.

The NDP and Bloc Quebecois also support allowing the two clauses to fade out.

The Canadian Judicial Council issued a statement on Tuesday that criticized the way the Conservatives propose to change how judges are selected.

"Because the majority of voting members are now appointed by the Minister, the advisory committees may neither be, nor seen to be, fully independent of the government. This puts in peril the concept of an independent body that advises the government on who is best qualified to be a judge," said the statement.

"Will the prime minister stop attacking the independence of the judiciary?" Dion asked.

"The Liberal Party opposes the change we made, which is to give the police a voice in this process," Harper said.

Now Canadian voters are entitled to make their own individual judgments on whether the Prime Minister was engaging in dirty pool by opening the pages of the Sun in the privileged environment of the House of Commons. But they would be well advised to ignore the slanted, indignant language that some other media outlets are trying to disguise as
impartial reporting.

The PM is being accused of suggesting that the Liberals changed their policy on anti-terror legislation to protect Mr. Bains’ father-in-law, Darshan Singh Saini. In fact, it is only by clairvoyance that reporters can claim to know what Mr. Harper would have said in his complete reply. He was shouted down long before he had the chance to make the “suggestion” being freely attributed to him (readers may wonder why the Liberals did not sit quietly and let him continue covering himself with “shame”. (Sources-Canada Post)



Hon. Navdeep Singh Bains, P.C., M.P. Critic for International Trade

Prime Minister Stephen Harper isn't backing down or apologizing after he attempted to read into the record in question period a newspaper article detailing how the RCMP wants to interview the father-in-law of a Liberal MP in connection with the Air India case.