We are a rule of law country…

TORONTO – It is a self-glorifying, quasi-condescending observation towards “peoples” who do not appear to share the same “Olympian standards of deference” to the law that we claim for ourselves. As I watched some video reproductions of Sikh Vaisakhi parades in Vancouver last week, I kept thinking of a Hero in Canadian Journalism – Tara Hayer – who risked Limb and then Life to expose the truth so that we could say Canada is a “rule of law country”. 

I wondered what his family must have felt as they watched elements of the organization many claim were responsible for maiming and then executing Mr. Hayer openly glorying in public adulation for their separatist Khalistani movement in Canada. It used to be a cultural religious celebration, until a thuggish group converted it into an anti- India manifestation.

There may be “justification” for people to pursue a path to autonomy, sovereignty or indeed independence from other entities in their native lands. Overt expression of them, accompanied by violent suppression on Canadian soil of any disagreement with that policy must surely be unacceptable. It was not with the terrorist-murderers of the FLQ in Quebec in the early 1970s.

Tara Hayer (in the pic above), writer-publisher of Indo-Canadian Times in Vancouver and fervent defender of Sikhism had become a critic of Gurdwara (church) organizations and elements that torqued up the activities of both the World Sikh Organization and the International Sikh Youth Federation. In 1985, several individuals from those groups concocted a plan to construct bombs, board them on airplanes and explode cause their explosion [in English and Japanese airports].

The plan did not proceed as hoped by the conspirator/terrorists. Two people died in Narita, Japan. A further 329 were assassinated over the Atlantic as Air India flight 182 exploded on its approach to Ireland. That was 39 years ago. Tara Hayer followed the “investigation” closely and wrote about it and its findings extensively. No plan as nefarious as the cynical mass-murder of innocent civilians to achieve a “political goal” could possibly be airtight.

He began to “call it as it is” and “as he saw it”, on the evidence. Clearly, he had an impact. I had made many friends in the Sikh community as a result of my political involvement from 1984 onward. Most of them professed to know details and individuals involved and warned me to stay clear of certain individuals and events sponsored by their associates and sympathizers.

By 1988, In London, England, he had occasion to overhear one of the lead conspirators, Ajab Bagri “confess” to the plan and his role in it. Tara Hayer “handed over” whatever information he had compiled to the RCMP and offered to testify in court. His reward was an attempt on his life that left him paralyzed from the waist down.

He and his family were under constant threat: “shut down your paper, or else…”  The ‘or else’ happened, in 1998, when he was brutally murdered, in his own garage, shortly after closing the paper. His wife was the first to come upon his lifeless body.

She convened her family, told them to ‘stop the presses’, post a picture of Tara on the front page with the headline announcing his death, and to keep the paper going in his name. What courage!

Tara Hayer remains the only Canadian journalist /publisher killed on Canadian soil. The Court could not accept the testimony previously presented by him. Twenty-five years later, the murderers are still free. Despite this, Canada still calls itself a country where the rule of law prevails.

In the pic , Vaisakhi parade in Vancouver (photo: Vancouver Sun)