Tory MP Wai Young backtracks from claim CSIS failed to warn of Air India bombing

Tory backbencher Wai Young, MP for Vancouver South, told a local church on June 29 that CSIS knew beforehand of a bomb on Air India Flight 182, which blew up 30 years ago, killing 329. Young said CSIS was unable to tell RCMP because information-sharing was not allowed.

Vancouver South MP admits she 'misspoke' in speech to church that also compared Conservatives to Jesus

Tory MP says CSIS knew about Air India bombing

8 years ago
Duration 2:56
MP Wai Young also compares the Conservatives to Jesus for passing anti-terror legislation, Bill C-51

In a speech to churchgoers in her riding two weeks ago, Conservative backbencher Wai Young, the MP for Vancouver South, compared the Harper government to Jesus and accused Canada's spy agency, CSIS, of knowing in advance about Canada's worst-ever attack — the 1985 bombing of Air India Flight 182.

The bombing killed 329 passengers and crew. Young said CSIS failed to warn the RCMP about the bomb for legal reasons. She offered no evidence.

First elected in 2011, Young told worshippers at the Harvest City Church that the Harper government was working "in the same vein" as Jesus by passing the new anti-terror legislation, bill C-51.

She added that, "If bill C-51 had been in place 30 years ago, Air India would never have happened. Those some 400 lives would have been saved."

Instead, Young alleged that CSIS let the bombing happen because, she said, the law at the time did not allow the spy agency to tell the RCMP what it knew.

"CSIS knew or heard that there was a bomb on board this plane," she said. "But because of the strict laws that government departments have, they cannot share information between departments.… Because they couldn't share that information with the RCMP, the RCMP could not act to take that bomb off that plane. Today, with C-51, they will be able to share that information."

Young declined a request for an interview to explain her remarks.

The factual record, however, contradicts her. After a series of criminal trials and a lengthy inquiry under retired Supreme Court justice John Major, no evidence has ever surfaced to suggest that CSIS knew there was a bomb on the Air India plane. Nor has there been any evidence, even if it had known, that any law prevented CSIS from advising the RCMP.

Rather, Major's inquiry concluded there was a lack of co-ordination between CSIS and the RCMP in the investigation of the bombing, and that this should be remedied by having both agencies report to a national security adviser.

The Harper government rejected that recommendation.

'I don't read the newspapers anymore'

In her June 29 speech to the Harvest City Church, Young also criticized "most journalists" because, she said, they did not respect facts and should call themselves "columnists" instead.

"I do not read the newspapers anymore, because most of the facts in there are not factual," Young told the congregation. 

"One of the key tenets of being a journalist is that you are supposed to be reporting the facts," she said.

In an emailed statement late Tuesday from her Vancouver office, Young said, "I misspoke with regards to the investigation of the Air India bombing.… I regret this error."

Endorsed by man once accused of bombing

Young came to notice for the first time during the 2011 campaign, when she was endorsed by Ripudaman Singh Malik, the Vancouver businessman accused of mass murder in the Air India trial.

After four years of proceedings, the judge acquitted Malik and his co-accused Ajaib Singh Bagri, but found that Malik had paid more than $100,000 to the family of the convicted bomb-maker, Inderjit Singh Reyat.

Reyat refused to testify against Malik and Bagri, and remains in prison for perjury in that case.

Young said at the time that she did not know who Malik was when he endorsed her.


Terry Milewski worked in 50 countries during 38 years with the CBC. He was the CBC's first Middle East Bureau Chief, spent eight years in Washington during the Reagan, Bush and Clinton administrations and was based in Vancouver for 14 years before returning to Ottawa as senior correspondent.


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