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Last Friday, the Liberal government removed a direct reference to “Sikh extremism” in its annual Public Report on the Terrorism Threat to Canada. This came after several prominent Sikhs in Canada told the Liberals that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other politicians would be barred from attending upcoming community events. The updated version of the report instead discusses “extremists who support violent means to establish an independent state within India.”
Over the weekend Amarinder Singh, the chief politician for India’s Punjab state, denounced this change as a “knee-jerk decision that was clearly aimed at protecting [Liberal] political interests in an election year.”
Canadian politician Ujjal Dosanjh – a former federal Liberal cabinet minister and NDP Premier of British Columbia – has been speaking out against Sikh extremism since the 1980s. He spoke with the Sun’s Anthony Furey about this issue. The below is a condensed version of his remarks.
What did you think when the original version of the report referenced “Sikh extremism”?
I thought it was a positive development. I thought it was long overdue. It was innocuous in terms of the way it was expressed because it referred to Sikhs but then put “Khalistani threat” in brackets right after. It did not talk about Sikhs except those that are Khalistanis. It also references Islamic extremists. I didn’t feel the report maligned any Sikhs who didn’t believe in violence along with Khalistan.
What were your thoughts when complaints came in about the wording?
Their slogan was prove it or remove it. This kind of shocked me because the intelligence community agencies must know that even recently you have Khalistanis going to Pakistan and coming back and prominently taking part in anti-India activities.
What did you think about the change to the wording?
I think Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has bowed to hard-right Khalistanis. If he had bowed in the same way to hard-right fundamentalist Christians on any issue, there would be devastating criticisms of him by the Liberals, Conservatives and NDP. Except in this particular case the identity politics has won the day. This is an extreme case of political pandering by Mr. Trudeau. He capitulated to the hard-right Khalistanis and undermined the Canadian intelligence agencies or at least their independence in the way they want to identify their threats. Once again, after the SNC-Lavalin saga he interfered in a process that is and ought to be free from political meddling or meddling from politicians who pander to a minority group or pressure groups of any kind whatsoever.
What sort of precedent does this set moving forward?
I’m somewhat concerned that neither the NDP nor the Conservatives have been critical of Mr. Trudeau and his government on this issue. I believe that Canadians need to understand that this step has undermined the Canadian intelligence agencies and their ability to stand up for national security and public safety in Canada. I think Canadians needs to understand that this isn’t right, what’s happened — it’s unprincipled and it’s essentially kowtowing to a few Khalistani vociferous elements who say they represent the majority of the Sikhs. They don’t. They have loud voices. The silent majority chooses to remain silent and I believe that what’s happened isn’t correct. It shouldn’t happen in a free and democratic country.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019