Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has defended his response when asked if he would condemn any Canadian Sikhs who glorify Talwinder Singh Parmar, the mastermind of the 1985 Air India bombing, as a martyr.
Singh was asked in an Oct. 2 interview on CBC’s Power and Politics if he thought it was appropriate for some Sikhs to glorify Parmar by displaying posters of him in temples. The Brampton-born lawyer-turned-lawmaker responded by denouncing terrorism, but stopped short of naming Parmar or decrying his admirers.
On Sunday, Singh was again asked why he refrained from unambiguously criticizing Parmar’s supporters.
“I made it absolutely clear, unequivocally that I condemn any violence against anyone in the world, particularly violence perpetrated against Canadians,” Singh said at an Ottawa event that kick-started a tour designed to boost his profile among voters.
“Air India happened when I was about five years old, but I’m very clear on it… I’ve attended memorials with respect to the victims and the families and the survivors of this horrific and heinous act.”
Singh then remarked that “anyone held responsible needs to be denounced” and said “there’s still a lot of questions that are unanswered,” prompting one reporter to ask him if he was intentionally creating a “grey area” (Parmar didn’t stand trial and was shot dead by Indian security forces in 1992, but is widely regarded as a key architect of the worst terrorist attack in Canada’s history).
“I’m not here to tell what a community should or shouldn’t do,” Singh responded. “The fact that this is something that I have to say is troublesome, the fact that that’s not an obvious question to you… why would anyone assume otherwise?”
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Singh then turned his attention to his campaign strategy leading up to the next federal election, saying he would target votes in suburban ridings, which he termed a “high-risk, high-reward” approach.
The 38-year-old also said his resignation from the Ontario legislature would be ratified in the coming weeks.