Air India failures a national disgrace
Despite ample warnings of a threat to Flight 182, nothing was done
Saturday, May 05, 2007
Iain Hunter, Times Colonist
How is it that none of this came out in the unsatisfactory sequence of trials that followed, in annual reports of government agencies, in testimony before parliamentarians? Bob Rae's review to see whether a public inquiry was warranted produced none of these revelations. Perhaps it wasn't meant to, so as not to prejudge what this inquiry would reveal, but there was not a hint of them in his 2005 report.
And there were people like Anne McLellan, public security minister when there was a clamour for a public inquiry, who claimed there was no need for one because it wouldn't reveal anything new.
And then there was James Bartleman, who told the Major inquiry Thursday that he'd seen the CSE report warning of the June 22-23 attack and gave it to the senior RCMP officer on the interdepartmental Sikh terrorism task force -- and then prepared to go on holiday.
Bartleman, now lieutenant-governor of Ontario where a lot of Air India's extended victims live, can't remember the name of the RCMP officer he delivered the communication to -- but he can remember how rudely he was brushed off for stepping on someone else's turf.
He seems to have been embarrassed into silence. He never mentioned it in writing about those days in his autobiography.
Bartleman, remember, was the director general of intelligence analysis and security for what is now Foreign Affairs.
Yet he assumes that by passing off information to some other official he was performing this function.
Gordon Smith, his boss as deputy minister, has expressed surprise he was not informed.
Major's right. It's not merely a lack of oversight. It's dereliction of duty by those with responsibility for the most essential function of government -- the protection of its citizens -- and it has shamed the nation.
© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2007