Remarks prompt B.C. premier to boycott Sikh parade
B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell has carried through on his pledge to boycott the annual Vaisakhi parade in Surrey, B.C., on Saturday after one of the organizers failed to apologize for controversial remarks about Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh and B.C. Liberal MLA Dave Hayer.
The trouble started after organizer Inderjit Singh Bains told a Punjabi-language radio station that the two Sikh politicians were not invited to the event, which has come to draw upwards of 100,000 people each year.
Both Dosanjh and Hayer have spoken out against violence that afflicted the province's Sikh community in the 1980s. Sikh separatists were blamed for bombing two Air India planes. More than 300 people died in the attacks.
Bains said Dosanjh and Hayer would need security if they were to attend.
"Obviously, it's totally unacceptable in Canada that anyone would say those things about a public official," Campbell said about the matter on Friday. "Right now, I'm not expecting to go. I would have to hear an awful lot from the organizers of the parade with regard to what actually it is that they think they're trying to accomplish."
Dosanjh said he has brought the matter to the attention of the RCMP.
"For them to single me out means that it is a direct implicit threat against me and it is an invitation for others to do violence to me if I do attend," Dosanjh said.
Other politicians such as Liberal MP Sukh Dhaliwal were present at the parade on Saturday.
Dhaliwal called Bains' remarks hypocritical.
"Sikhism is about accepting everyone," he said.
Although the celebration had all the marks of a family event, there were also a few signs of Sikh separatism along the parade route.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Renu Bakshi and files from The Canadian Press