Racism may be behind reluctance to call Air India inquiry: N.S. senator
By MURRAY BREWSTER,April 9, 2005
HALIFAX (CP) - Racism may be at the root of Ottawa's hesitation in calling a full inquiry into the Air India prosecution, a Nova Scotia Liberal senator said Saturday.
Terry Mercer told a meeting of provincial Liberals it looks bad that no inquiry has been called.
"We as Liberals need to ask ourselves this question, the government needs to ask itself this question: If there were 350 white people on that plane, would we be waiting for an inquiry?," Mercer asked delegates during a question-answer session with federal Nova Scotia Liberals.
"I'm afraid the answer to that question is that we would have had an inquiry ready to roll."
Senior members of the federal cabinet at the convention considered the comments a slap in the face.
"I believe he's absolutely wrong," said Public Works Minister Scott Brison.
"Both our party and our government are committed to seeking justice and doing so within a country that believes very strongly in multiculturalism and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms."
But Mercer said the investigation by the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service was botched.
The situation is no different than the intelligence failures in the U.S. that led to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and those problems were fully explored by the Americans, the Atlantic senator said.
In June 1985, 329 people died in the bombing of an Air India Flight 182.
Last month, a British Columbia judge acquitted Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri of murder and conspiracy charges.
In calling for an inquiry, Mercer is siding with the families of the victims, who expressed frustration and anger at McLellan's decision.
Mercer, who was among former prime minister Jean Chretien's last senate appointments, said he has raised his concerns behind closed doors among the federal Liberal caucus and other members agree with him.
However, he refused to say how many.
There are a number of people in Canada's South Asian community who also believe racism is behind the reluctance, Mercer said.
"Canadians have a nagging feel, and Canadians of South Asian descent have, that we would have had an inquiry or one would have been planned," he told reporters during a break in the convention.
India, US sign open skies policy
The Cabinet has cleared new air services agreement with USA which allows for unlimited flights between India and USA. Also, the number of flights between Britain and India are to be raised to 56, from the present 42 by 2006.
The Cabinet has cleared new air services agreement with USA. This allows for unlimited flights between India and USA with no restriction on destination cities, reports CNBC-TV18.
Further, Britain and India have agreed to more than double the number of flights between the two nations. This has the potential to open up dozens of lucrative new routes for airlines.
The two countries have signed a civil aviation agreement. Under the deal, 56 flights originating from Mumbai and Delhi will land in London every week. London will also host 14 flights from Bangalore and Chennai every week. Meanwhile, the number of flights from London to India will be raised from the present 42 to 56 by 2006.
Muslim, Christian groups oppose gay marriage: Coalition calls on immigrants to participate in rally
Excerpts from: National Post - April 5, 2005
By Melissa Leong
MARKHAM - A coalition of more than 80 mosques, Christian groups and other organizations have joined to fight the Liberal government's same-sex marriage bill, starting with a rally on Parliament Hill.
The Coalition for the Defence of Traditional Marriage was formed about two months ago in opposition to Bill C-38, the Civil Marriage Act, which will legalize same-sex marriage in Canada.
The event began with a minute of silence in honour of Pope John Paul II. Tony Markwick, spokesman for the coalition, reminded the crowd that the Roman Catholic leader denounced the legal recognition of same-sex unions during a meeting with Canada's ambassador to the Vatican.
''The finest testament to [the Pope] would be to honour and follow his final wishes for this country regarding natural marriage.''
Monsignor Terence D'Souza, a pastor at St. Francis Xavier Church in Mississauga, said he is insulted that Prime Minister Paul Martin, who is in favour of same-sex marriages, would attend the Pontiff's funeral.
''It's the slap in the face of a dead pope,'' said the pastor, who was appointed a chaplain to the Pope last year.
''[Mr. Martin] insults the entire Catholic Church and he insults the Pope.
''Marriage is geared for a future.... Same-sex legislation cannot create life.''
Standing Committee of Citizenship and Immigration meets in Toronto for hearings on "Recognition of the International Experience and Credentials of Immigrants "
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) recently established the Foreign Credential Recognition (FCR) program, with the goal of providing a consistent, pan-Canadian approach to international credential assessment and recognition and the upcoming cross-Canada Hearings on the Recognition of the International Experience and Credentials of Immigrants sponsored by the Standing Committee of Citizenship and Immigration.
Internationally trained immigrants are currently disadvantaged by the lack of consistent credential assessment standards and guidelines used by Ontario colleges. The issue of how to achieve consistency involves many aspects of how a college operates. For example, individual faculty or faculty coordinators are usually given the responsibility of developing standards and guidelines for determining how equivalencies should be assessed for college credit in their particular program discipline. This may result in internationally trained immigrants receiving and having access to varying quality and scope of service among colleges and programs.
Another barrier exists in some regulated professions, where assessments of academic credentials that are accepted as equivalent to Ontario standards by the relevant occupational regulatory body may not be accepted by a college, or vice versa. Consequently, internationally trained immigrants may not be receiving optimum credit for past education and may be duplicating learning.
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