TORONTO - His allies are dropping like flies. First the friendly provincial Premiers started to wilt and die on the electoral vine.
Bereft of those Premiers’ echoing support, his government’s policies – domestic and international – stand naked for examination by a skeptical public. 2019, the election year, is just around the corner.
His Cabinet appears increasingly like a hastily-assembled, after- thought, side serving to the main meal. Pollsters are reporting increasingly consistent public disaffection with his programmes and his Ministers.
Angus Reid, for example has taken to measuring levels of perceived public discontent with them, as indicated elsewhere in these pages. Now, he is discovering that his mainstays within the Liberal Party and his own caucus are under the gun, so to speak.
The Canadian Sikh Association (CSA), an organization that aspires to represent a dimension of the “integrated”, Canada-focused, Sikh community, has called for the resignations from the Liberal caucus of all Sikh MPs and Senators. Why?
Ralph Goodale, Minister for Public Security, last week, published his annual Report on Public Safety, which he is also required to present to Parliament.
The report refers to potential terrorist threats that certain extremist groups pose to Canadian security. Among them, the Report lists Sikhs.
Shades of 1985, when, in the wake of Air India flight 182, then Foreign Minister Joe Clark, labelled another Sikh organization, the WSO, a terrorist group. Flight 182, from Vancouver to Bombay, with 329 people on board, was bombed out of the sky. It was a tragedy, a terrorist attack on Canadian citizens without parallel, before or since.
The suspects were Sikhs, an ethno-religious group from the Punjab – a region of India. Some of them had organized themselves under the banner of the World Sikh Organization (WSO) to advocate for the interests of the Diaspora, and for the “creation/establishment/liberation” of an independent Sikh nation, Khalistan.
The community itself in Canada is richly diverse, as one would expect of a people who have been part of the fabric of Canada for over one hundred years. They have created and are involved in a plethora of church (gurudwara), social, business and political groups.
Nonetheless, the WSO began to assert itself aggressively, and especially after the Joe Clark statement, started to experience some early political success with the needy opposition Liberal Party under Jean Chretien. From “defender” of the community, it has emerged as the organizational arm of the Trudeau Liberal Party.
Its feelers are everywhere. Its “face” is Minister Navdeep Bains; its organizational structure is run by his father and his family. Yet, a now public report to Parliament, by one of his Ministerial colleagues has the e.ect of branding all Sikhs as a terrorist threat to Canada.
The public outcry has even spurred the risk-averse Ralph Goodale into a quasi step back. Where is Bains in all of this?
The Canadian Sikh Association issued a press release, Saturday, railing against the insensitivity of the Canadian government, falling just short of accusing it of a designed, deliberate, attempt to seek the favour of the Indian government by tarnishing all Sikhs with the terrorist brush. And it condemns the 20 Sikh MP’s and Senators (almost all from Trudeau’s caucus) for their ignominious silence.
Sukhpaul Singh, Chair of the Board, is vigorous and direct: “The actions of this Prime Minister and the government will prove that when it comes to defending Canadian rights they don’t fully grasp the fundamentals of the Charter nor have the appetite to defend Canadians.”
Some MPs of Sikh background, using social media, are pleading innocence and naïve ignorance, claiming the system does not allow for their input prior to tabling Acts or Reports. But one member of the Canadian Sikh Association, speaking on background, will have none of it.
“These people owe us good, honest representation that guard our integrity and values our role in Canada”, he says. “Instead, they are busy fighting o. allegations of sexual assault, fraternizing with people convicted of attempted murder, and getting mixed up in RCMP investigations into their questionable land deals, gambling and money laundering schemes.”
Then they are missing in action when the community takes a hit, he adds, woefully, we are back where we started in 1985.