British Columbia

Sikh temple apologizes to B.C. politicians

Leaders of a Sikh temple in Surrey, B.C., have issued an apology for what they called "misconstrued" comments directed at two B.C politicians.

Apology not accepted by Vancouver MP

This controversial float, which appeared in Saturday's Vaisakhi parade in Surrey, honours Sikh separatist extremists as martyrs. ((CBC))

Leaders of a Sikh temple in Surrey, B.C., have issued an apology for what they called "misconstrued" comments directed at two B.C politicians.

The Gurdwara Dasmesh Darbar temple committee released an apology statement early Wednesday morning, saying there was no need for comments made by parade organizer Inderjit Singh Bains just prior to Saturday's Vaisakhi parade in Surrey, just east of Vancouver.

Bains told a Punjabi-language radio station that MP Ujjal Dosanjh and MLA Dave Hayer were not invited, and should bring their own security if they chose to attend the event.

"They have never been invited," Inderjit Singh Bains said during an interview on Radio Sher-e Punjab "If they come, they need to bring their own security."  

But on Wednesday, the committee said the comments were not intended as threats, but instead noted the inability to provide special security for all officials.  

Apology not accepted by MP

Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh said the apology is just an attempt by the temple to keep the parade permit, and he doesn't believe it is sincere. 

"Absolutely not," said Dosanjh on Wednesday morning.

"Why would you single out an individual, me in particular, who has never attended that parade, and never intended to attend that parade, and single him out and say that if you come there, you watch your own back and you are responsible for your own safety," he said.

Both Dosanjh and Hayer are Indo-Canadians who have spoken out about extremism in Metro Vancouver's Sikh community.

Dosanjh was severely beaten in an attack attributed to Sikh extremists in 1985. In 1998, Hayer's father, Tara Singh Hayer, was shot dead in his driveway after speaking out about the Air India bombing.

"I walk around the streets of this province, and this country, absolutely free of fear. Why would they want to instil fear in my mind, or in the minds of other people?" he said.

A number of politicians had demanded apologies for the comments and Premier Gordon Campbell skipped the parade as a result.

Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts said the city will review the status of the annual Sikh Vaisakhi parade after a controversial float was included in the event Saturday.

The parade has become controversial in recent years because it has featured photographs of Sikhs linked to the Air India bombing and other Sikh militant operations.