April 10, 2019 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
Brampton (April 9, 2019): Over 400 community members attended a community meeting at Brampton City Hall hosted by the Ontario Sikh and Gurdwaras Council and Ontario Gurdwara Committee in partnership with the World Sikh Organization of Canada.
The meeting was called to discuss the addition of “Sikh (Khalistani) Extremism” to the 2018 Public Report on the Terrorism Threat to Canada. The meeting was called to initiate a dialogue between the Sikh community and MPs and to receive an update as to where this matter currently stands.
Sikhs across Canada expressed their objection at the inclusion of “Sikh (Khalistani) Extremism” to the 2018 Public Safety Canada Report on Terrorism Threats to Canada. The Report does not make any reference to current extremist activities in the Sikh community and simply states, “some individuals in Canada continue to support Sikh (Khalistani) extremist ideologies and movements.”
Despite invitations sent to over 60, MPs from across southern Ontario, the meeting was only attended by Ruby Sahota (Liberal), Garnett Genuis (CPC) and Raj Grewal (Ind.) NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh also attended and made a statement.
In his statement, Jagmeet Singh said that the NDP had introduced a motion requiring Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale to appear before the Standing Committee on Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to explain why sections targeting specific communities were added to the 2018 Public Safety Report. Today, at the committee, the motion by NDP MP Matthew Dubé calling on Minister Goodale to appear before June 21, 2019 was passed with the support of all members of the committee. Liberal MP Ruby Sahota successfully put forward an amendment to the motion asking that the Minister appear as soon as possible.
The MPs present at the community meeting furthermore affirmed that they would work with the community to ensure Sikh representation be included on the Cross-Cultural Roundtable on Security.
Also yesterday, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale issued a statement in which he acknowledged that “the language used to describe some threats unintentionally maligned certain communities….and is not in line with the values of the Government of Canada”.
While the 2018 Report has not been revised and still contains the section on “Sikh (Khalistani) Terrorism”, Minister Goodale in his statement has said that an addendum to the Report now suggests that in the future the term “Extremists who support violent means to establish an independent state within India” will be used as necessary and appropriate.
The MPs who were present were presented with questions from the community about the inclusion of the term “Sikh (Khalistani) Extremism” and why widespread demands that it be explained or removed had not yet been heard.
After hearing from the community members, the MPs present and the Notice of Update from the Minister, the Sikh organizations will be reconvening internally to discuss next steps.