Canadian wars over Air India inquiry
Posted on : 2007-12-05 | Author : Gurmukh Singh
News Category : World

Toronto, Dec 5 - The inquiry into the widely criticised investigation of the 1985 Air India bombing is further souring ties between the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIF) and the Royal Canadian Mounting Police (RCMP).

First, RCMP deputy commissioner Gary Bass pointed fingers at CSIF for not letting his men pursue the mysterious X just days before the Air India bombing. Now former CSIS director Reid Morden has opposed giving intelligence gathering powers back to the RCMP.

Intelligence gathering was taken away from the RCMP in 1984 when CSIS was created. This strained the relationship between the RCMP and the new spy agency.

Instead of giving them to the RCMP, the spy agency had erased hundreds of tapes of conversation of the Air India plot mastermind Talwinder Singh Parmar in 1985.

This led to acquittals of the suspect in the bombing of the Kanishka flight on June 23, 1985 that killed all 329 people on board.

The furore over the erasure of tapes led to the resignation of then CSIS director in 1987.

Morden, who then took over this job and left in 1991, has opposed changes to law to let the RCMP launch investigations on mere suspicion - not solid proof - in terror cases.

When the inquiry judge, John Major, suggested this, Morden said: 'My reflex reaction after 35 years in large bureaucracies is that - whether it is legislation or a lower form of regulation or rule - if there is not the goodwill, if there is not the intent to make the underlying legislation or regulation work, the ingenuity of people to do otherwise will continue.'

Currently, CSIS can launch investigations on a mere suspicion of terror crime while the RCMP needs solid proof about a crime to be committed.

When the judge said that the 'lower threshold' for the RCMP could be limited only to terrorism cases as 'terrorist activities have the effect of potentially destroying countries, civilizations', Morden said: 'It is too high a price to pay to give that lower threshold to the police.'

Instead, he suggested, a new intelligence position at the federal level to co-ordinate the work of various agencies.

The RCMP has been accused of allowing the Air India bombers to carry out their plot and later derailing the investigations.

(c) Indo-Asian News Service
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