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Victims matter…

unless they are Indian, apparently.

Anyone who watches commercial video online will be familiar with the ad campaign Victims Matter. I’ve seen that ad more times than I can count. It rings hollow when the government completely ignores the concerns of the Air India bombing victims’ families, and treats them with disdain.

From Terry Milewski at the CBC:

In a series of meetings over the past two months, ministers Kenney and Toews have floated a trial balloon: modest and symbolic payments on the order of $20,000 to $25,000. The ministers emphasize that this is not to be considered “compensation” in the legal sense — as were Libya’s $10-million payments to the Lockerbie families. Rather, the two ministers insist, these “ex-gratia” payments would serve as goodwill gestures which entail no legal liability.

Shipra Rana wipes an eye as she talks to the media in June about losing relatives in the Air India bombing. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press) Major did recommend such payments — but he said much more. For one thing, he said the government should not decide for itself how much to pay; an independent body should do that. The government rejected that finding — which seems to fit with the official record described by Major. Here’s another sampling:

“For the longest period of time, the government seemed dedicated to self-justification and denial of fault that led it to cast a blind eye and a deaf ear to the suffering and the needs of the families. The government was too preoccupied with its international reputation to appreciate its obligations to the families of the victims. It was so keen on debunking any notion that the bombing was tied to deficiencies in Canadian safety and security that it alienated the very people who deserved support and empathy: the families of the victims.”

Major wasn’t done. He went on:

“In stark contrast to the compassion shown by the Government of the United States to the families of the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, for all too long the Government of Canada treated the families of the victims of the terrorist attack on Flight 182 as adversaries. The nadir of this attitude was displayed when the families’ requests for financial assistance were met by the government’s callous advice to seek help from the welfare system. Even after the modest settlement of the civil litigation, a settlement which, ironically, prevented the families from receiving disclosure from government of the extent of the deficiencies in the pre-bombing period, the government was slow to recognize any duty towards the victims or their families.”

Finally, Major noted that the government had steadfastly tried to keep the truth from them.

“For over two decades, the Government of Canada and its agencies stood adamantly opposed to any public review. … the government was indiscriminate in its denials, doggedly denying all potentially unflattering facts, even some that had been uncontrovertibly shown to be true. As well, the government’s constant over-claiming of privilege and its continued withholding of information have had a painfully negative impact on the vulnerable families of the victims of this immense tragedy.”

Victims matter, my ass.

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