OTTAWA: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has described the 1985 Air India bombing as the "single worst terrorist attack" in the country's history as he paid tribute to 329 victims of the Kanishka Flight 182 which exploded mid-air.
"On this day in 1985, Canadians awoke to news that defied belief, and left our country in a state of shock and suffering," Trudeau said yesterday, marking the National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Terrorism in Canada.
Air India Flight 182, bound for London after picking up passengers in Toronto and Montreal, disappeared from radar off the coast of Ireland on June 23, 1985.
A bomb planted on the plane in Canada in an act of terror exploded on board, killing all 329 people on board, including 280 Canadians.
"The Air India bombing remains the single worst terrorist attack in Canada's history. This horrific act of malice and destruction left families and friends grieving the loss of loved ones, and brought pain that will never completely go away," the prime minister said.
"In times of tragedy and testing, Canadians have shown that the values which bring us together inclusion, compassion, justice, and equality are much stronger than the forces that try, and fail, to wedge us apart," Trudeau said.
"Terrorists believe, through cowardly and violent acts, that they can make us question not only our safety but the democratic institutions that keep us safe," Trudeau said.
They are wrong. Canadians are for facts and diversity, not fear and division. Our society thrives on inclusivity, and these acts only strengthen our resolve for unity," he added.
He said, "Canada condemns all forms of terrorism. We stand in solidarity with our allies, and the international community, in the ongoing fight to prevent radicalization and fight terrorism at home and abroad."
"On behalf of the Government of Canada, I extend my condolences to everyone everywhere who has lost loved ones to terrorism. We also thank and honour those who work each day to keep our citizens, communities, and country safe," he said, referring to serval terror attacks across the world.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said that only one person has been brought to justice and there are those who still walk free.
"The investigation will not be completed until those have been brought to justice," Sajjad said.
A British Columbia Supreme Court judge and a public inquiry later found that the bombings were carried out by the Babbar Khalsa, headed by former Burnaby mill worker Talwinder Singh Parmar.
In British Columbia, Premier John Horgan paid tributes to the Kanishka victims as flags at the Parliament Buildings in Victoria flew at half-mast.
"Canadians will never forget this act of terror that took the lives of 329 people, including 280 Canadians. Our hearts go out to the families and friends of the victims," Horgan said.
"Perpetrators of terrorism seek to shatter our sense of safety and peace. Their violent acts try to turn communities against one another. We must never allow anger, fear and hatred to take root in our hearts. We will not let these senseless acts of terror change who we are," the Premier added.