New Canadian Media
Tuesday, 28 February 2017 19:42

Mr. Reyat, Please Do the Right Thing

Commentary by Suresh Kurl in Richmond

Time passes, sometimes leaving behind only a knot of hurtful memories. Thirty years have gone by waiting for the news, when the living victims of the Air India tragedy would hear, feel and spend the rest of their days with some sense of justice. It seems like they will never realize their hopes.

Just ask those whom destiny left behind only to mourn loved ones lost on June 23, 1985.

The Air-India Bombing was not a car accident caused by a drunken driver on an icy Canadian road. It was a well planned, well financed and well executed aviation mass murder of 331 individuals. They had no idea before and after they boarded the plane that they were being taken – not to meet their relatives – but to the end of their own lives. Eyes still get moist and tears still roll down the cheeks when someone or something reminds Canadians of that dreadful day.

Inderjit Singh Reyat, the designated technician-cum-schemer of the 331 murders, made the bomb, tested the bomb and handed it over to his associate master-minds to execute the rest of the plot, to shatter the plane over the Atlantic Ocean. They did this rather effectively, leaving the Irish authorities scooping dead babies, lifeless adults, packed suitcases, floating dolls and pieces of the broken airplane for evidence.   

Two wrongs don't make a right

The Air India Bombing was plotted and executed to avenge the wounded honour of the GoldenTemple, a respected seat of worship and devotion. This temple assault, referred to as "Operation Blue Star" by the New Delhi government, had the approval of the Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and was no less evil than the bombing of the Air India flights that followed.

Mrs. Gandhi could have chosen some other political and peaceful solution to resolve the national crisis, but she did not, just as Mr. Reyat and his associates could have adopted some other peaceful path to achieve the Sikh separatist agenda. But they did not, because they, especially Mr. Reyat, the designated technician, must have believed, "Two wrongs equal one right."

Co-incidentally, there are a few similarities between Mrs. Gandhi and Mr. Reyat. Both of them have the same derivative Sanskrit root, "in-" meaning, stubborn, determined, bold and energetic. 

Second, both of them suffered the consequences of their Karma (behaviour). PM Gandhi was assassinated at the hands of her trusted body guards. Reyat was doomed by his loyalty to his co-conspirators.

Not a solo plot

Who will ever believe that such a plot was the work of one person?  

Moreover, Mr. Reyat ended up protecting, insulating and covering his criminal associates through his own "perjury".  I call it destiny.

Third, their actions were a response to the demand for the creation of a separate nation, "Khalistan'.

Fourth, no one seems to admire them for the violence soaked sacrifices they made to  attain their objectives.  

Last week, Mr. Reyat was released from federal prison; technically, "paroled out". Where Mr. Reyat is going to live or with who he is going to live with is not of significance. What is significant is that he could never be free from the prison of his own guilt.

He might not even be able to sleep soundly. He might even suffer vivid nightmares of exploding planes and falling dead babies from the sky: all because he is unwilling to reconcile with the truth, compassion and honesty and universal love, the tenets of every religion, including his own religion.

Redeeming himself

Spiritually speaking, Mr. Reyat can only redeem himself of his portion of sins by disclosing the names of those who were involved in plotting, financing and executing this crime, which put him and him alone away in prison for a long time and caused him to suffer, socially, financially and spiritually.   

Mr. Reyat is a Sikh. If he believes in God, he must also believe in Karma, its consequences and rebirth.  If all this is true then the only option Mr. Reyat has is to pray for peace and strength to tell the truth and cleanse his conscience. Truth sets us free. Truth heals our wounded spirit. Truth prepares us to face our Creator.

As a spiritual human being, I am asking him to do the right thing for his soul and for the sake of his children and their children. He alone has the power to offer the gift of justice and peace to those he has victimized.  

Mr. Reyat, leave this world with your head high with pride, not bending low, burdened with the weight of lies and a guilty conscience. 


Dr. Suresh Kurl is a South Asian Community Activist, a former university professor, retired Registrar of the B.C. Benefits Appeal Board (Govt. of B.C.), a former Member of the National Parole Board (Govt. of Canada), a writer and public speaker.

 

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Commentary
Tuesday, 06 September 2016 14:01

Fraser Health’s Sehat Program Catching On

  A program aimed at improving healthy living in the South Asian community – and being promoted in local temples – is catching on, thanks to the efforts of “wellness ambassadors” like Simon Fraser University co-op student Roman Bhangoo.
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Published in Health
Tuesday, 06 September 2016 14:01

Indian visitors to BC up 21 pct in June

  Victoria: The number of overnight visitors from India to B.C. increased by 20.9 per cent in June this year from the previous June as international tourists to the province surpassed the two-million mark for the first six months of 2016.
According to Statistics Canada, 2,307,624 visitors came to [...]

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Published in India

  The Province of British Columbia has successfully issued an Indian Rupee denominated bond on the London Stock Exchange, making it the first-ever foreign government to issue a bond in the Indian offshore market and strengthening increasingly important trade and investment ties with India, Finance Minister Michael de Jong [...]

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Published in Economy

Guest Commentary by Stewart Beck

Moving day in West Vancouver – after two years of leasing and realizing the market wasn’t going to plateau, we bought a home in North Vancouver. Our soon to be old “hood” is busy: Down the street, a home is being demolished, the third in the two years we’ve lived here.

The dump trucks and the construction are an aggravation but you can rationalize this with the employment generated by the new builds.

However, the two houses already built have been empty since their construction was finished. Not the best for the neighbourhood.

Vancouver’s real estate market has captured the attention of the world. Thanks to the media, everyone knows that the value of the city’s real estate has grown at an unrealistic and unaffordable rate. Local residents are being crowded out, both geographically and financially.

And, no matter who you are and how you describe it, the out-of-proportion escalation in the cost of real estate is being blamed on the movement of Chinese money, legal and/or illegal (those who are politically correct use the term “foreign investors”) into the Vancouver and Toronto markets.

The staggering growth in China’s middle class, the current Chinese political environment, the Chinese investor’s penchant to speculate, and Vancouver’s reputation as among the most liveable cities in the world have contributed to these rising prices.

Something needed to be done and Premier Christy Clark’s announcement of a 15-per-cent tax on non-Canadians buying residential real estate was one way to deal with this politically volatile issue.

The new tax will likely achieve what it sets out to do.

It should cool the market and reduce the discriminatory effects of foreign investment. Foreign speculators will be given a framework in which to operate, and will pay their fair share to the province’s treasury. Meanwhile, legitimate investors will build the new costs into their decision models.

The tax is likely to help keep home ownership within the realm of possibility for middle-class families living in Metro Vancouver. This will level the playing field for citizens, creating a more balanced environment between citizen and foreign buyers.

This announcement has been a long time coming.

 The reality of a self-regulated market is that foreign speculators are going to use the regulatory framework to their advantage. It is not up to foreign governments to control how their citizens invest; rather, it is the responsibility of Canadian leaders.

The new tax is unlikely to come as a surprise to the Chinese government or Chinese investors. Indeed, China’s consul-general in Vancouver addressed the matter last year, saying that B.C. regulators, not Chinese investors, should be blamed for rising prices.

She suggested a number of policy options, including improved oversight of the real estate development community and a luxury tax on overseas investors. Essentially, she was saying that if we provide the environment for speculators from Mainland China or other countries to operate, they will do so.

No one likes tax increases, though, and an argument can be made that a 15-per-cent tax will create a disincentive to investment.

However, with an election looming next year, a policy that has the potential to improve the domestic political environment will be welcomed.

That said, the new tax will only be effective if it’s properly enforced. The province will need to ensure that foreign investors are not using resident family and friends to bypass the tax, and will need to verify that buyers are truthfully disclosing their citizenship.

If the government can address these concerns, and work out the wrinkles along the way, then this new policy will succeed in its mission.

By addressing the issue directly and creating a fair playing field, the province will also cool the rhetoric around Chinese investment and economic relations, paving the way for closer economic ties in the future, backed by public opinion unaffected by a real estate dilemma.

Stewart Beck is president and CEO of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada.

By arrangement with the Asian Pacific Post

 

Published in Commentary

WE all have bad days, even bad weeks. Life takes its toll on all of us causing occasional sleepless nights, changes in appetite and mood. But what if they persist and those symptoms are in fact the early signs of something more serious?

Often we dismiss the early symptoms of depression and anxiety disorders as […]

Indo-Canadian Voice

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Published in Health
Friday, 19 August 2016 12:15

Refugees: Opportunity will Trump Tragedy

Commentary by Steve Dooley in Surrey

A Surrey forum held earlier this year on helping Syrian refugees settle in our area started with an ice-breaker. Participants were asked to stand if they were born outside Canada.

About a third of the room stood.

They were next asked to stand if their parents were born outside the country. More stood.

Grandparents? More took to their feet.

And at great grandparents, nearly the whole room was standing.

In the multicultural dynamic that is Canada, we know that apart from our Aboriginal communities, all of us, at one point in our family lineage, came from somewhere else.  And over the nearly 150 years of nation building, there have been many paths to becoming part of the Canadian fabric.

Some have been relatively easy, others, born of great tragedy – those fleeing war, trauma and abuse, not necessarily coming to Canada as a choice.

Eager to contribute

And with the picture of a lifeless child on a beach in Turkey, the world opened its eyes to the latest forced migration from Syria, with many Syrian refugees arriving in Canada over the past six months.

Many refer to the settlement of Syrian refugees as a crisis. There have been fears that federal government targets would overwhelm settlement services and host municipalities.

There have been many challenges in meeting immediate and short-term needs of refugees, who woke up after a long flight, finding themselves in this new place called Canada.

Long wait lists for English training, housing shortages, particularly for larger families, and lack of employment opportunities are very real problems being addressed in communities across Canada.

A recent experience I had with a small group of refugees in Surrey has led me to believe that far from a crisis, the settlement of new refugees in Canada is in fact a huge opportunity.

Being a good neighbour

As the lead researcher on a year-long, recently completed study involving Simon Fraser University and several community partners, I had the pleasure of working with seven recent refugees from Myanmar, Somalia, Iraq and El Salvador. They were recruited as project research assistants (RAs) to help set the study’s scope, recruit participants, lead focus groups, interpret findings and participate in community planning.

While each had a personal story of tragedy and survival, they were eager to contribute, brought a broad set of skills and capacity to the work, and become leaders within their own communities.

The study, Our Community Our Voice: The settlement and Integration Needs of Refugees in Surrey, B.C., was a joint effort between SFU, the Surrey Local Immigration Partnership (LIP) and the City of Surrey.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada provided funding through the Surrey LIP. SFU’s involvement exemplifies the University’s commitment to engaging our communities, being a good neighbour and helping to solve issues that affect our communities.

Our report, which will help the city draft its settlement plan, spoke to the many issues facing refugees, and lays out a series of recommendations, from additional resources for new or existing programs targeting health, language, employment and housing, to improving how we communicate with refugees at all levels of the settlement process, and helping the community to better understand and engage with refugees during their transition.

Talents and dreams

No one understands this better than the refugees themselves, who deeply informed our discussions. And our RAs were the bridge.

In community development we often refer to skills development as “capacity building”.

It was clear to me that these refugees brought a lot of capacity to the amazing work they did, and I was thrilled and humbled to have the opportunity to work with this stellar group of individuals.

There is still much work to be done, but these RAs showed us first-hand how the refugees coming to Canada bring far more than the label imposed on them.  They have talents and dreams and hopes for their children.

And, while some will find their way back to their homelands, most will become part of the Canadian fabric, stay and make contributions to nation building.

Some will live quiet and simple lives, while others go on to become lawyers, doctors, nurses and teachers, or go into politics, start a new business venture, open a new media outlet.

They will build things, work in construction and on the factory floor. So will their children. But through the actions of daily living, all will contribute to the Canadian dynamic.

Based on Canadian history and my own experience from this study, I know, with time, there is space for opportunity to trump tragedy. It is not a crisis we have on our hands, but another in a long series of humanitarian support efforts that over time will lead to positive impacts on our neighborhoods, our cities and our nation.

Thirty years from now, in another community forum on how to support the latest wave of refugees, people will be asked to stand if they are born outside Canada. The Syrian refugees of today will stand thinking back on their own experiences of settlement.  

And, they will lend a hand.

Steve Dooley has been the Executive Director of Simon Fraser University's Surrey campus for the past 3 years. Having developed his community based research interests over 20 years, he continues to address social and civic issues such as refugee settlement, poverty, and crime reduction. Steve co-chairs the City of Surrey's Poverty Reduction Coalition and sits on Surrey's Local Immigration Partnership (LIP).

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

 

 

Published in Policy
Thursday, 11 August 2016 15:01

Housing Market Slows to a Simmer in B.C.

 THE British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that 9,900 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) in July, down 3.4 per cent from the same month last year. Total sales dollar volume was $6.57 billion in July, up 5.4 per cent compared to the previous year. The average MLS residential […]

Indo-Canadian Voice

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Published in Economy

  I write this columnas a family man who has raised my children in Surrey, and as a small business owner who employs several Surrey residents.  I like to think that I balance both perspectives when I consider the kind of government I want to see in charge of BC.
Because of my training [...]

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Published in National

   THE latest international visitor numbers continue to show positive increases, as British Columbia’s tourism industry keeps flourishing.

The number of overnight international visitors coming to British Columbia grew significantly for the first five months of 2016, according to Statistics Canada. From January to May, 1,650,703 visitors came to the province, resulting in a 14% […]

 

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Published in India
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Poll Question

Do you agree with the new immigration levels for 2017?

Yes - 30.8%
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The honest truth is there is still reluctance around immigration policy... When we want to talk about immigration and we say we want to bring more immigrants in because it's good for the economy, we still get pushback.

-- Canada's economic development minister Navdeep Bains at a Public Policy Forum economic summit

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