Sikh politics in Canada
Why is Canada's largest Sikh temple being sued by its own members?
Government gives grants to temples, premier visits
Last Updated June 28, 2007
By Terry Milewski, CBC News
Ontario's provincial government gave $750,000 to various Sikh temples in 2006-2007 to help them settle new immigrants.
- The Malton temple, where Air India Flight 182 bombing mastermind Talwinder Parmar is among the Sikh martyrs pictured on the walls, got $100,000. Premier Dalton McGuinty visited the temple this year on Vaisakhi Day.
- The Rexdale temple, which this year hosted a meeting of the Khalistan Liberation Organization, also received $100,000. In October 2006, the Rexdale temple hosted a fundraiser in honour of the two Sikhs who murdered Gen. Arun Sridhar Vaidya.
- The Dixie Gurdwara got $250,000. Its governing body, Ontario Khalsa Darbar, is being sued by some founding members of the temple, who allege that the directors have failed to account for $2.5 million in membership fees.
Extracts from a Superior Court order for disclosure of the temple's financial records say "the fundamental financial disclosure has not yet been made."
Balraj Deol, a Sikh business owner from Brampton, Ont., said that the temples should be strictly religious institutions that stay out of politics. That line is crossed when temples put "Khalistan" signs on the walls, he said.
"When you read behind that sign, we have thousands of lives lost back home, thousands of innocent lives lost in that movement, and we have 331 innocent people lost in the two tragedies of Air India and Narita. That is what is behind that Khalistan," he said.
"These charitable organizations which are tax exempt, their funds, their space, their congregations should not be allowed to use for a political purpose, and that should be a very fine line and it should be enforced."
Deol finds it especially troubling that the Dixie Gurdwara is receiving provincial funding while being sued for alleged mismanagement.
"The opposition, which took the management to the court, is claiming that almost $2 million of membership funds are not accounted for somewhere in the system, and now they are getting another quarter-million dollars from the government."
When asked if the grants indicated that the Ontario provincial government felt these were legitimate organizations, Deol replied: "Well, the government is probably looking for votes. It's politics of votes, which hurts, and I would say politicians are not behaving responsibly in this case."
- RELATED: Court ruling (pdf)