Maninder Gill, Queen's Medal Recipient, Defends Award Despite Weapons Charges

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DIAMOND JUBILEE MEDAL
Maninder Gill says he deserves his Diamond Jubilee medal for his fundraising work despite outstanding firearms charges. (Handout) | Rideau Hall

VANCOUVER - A British Columbia man who received a Queen's Diamond Jubilee medal from the federal NDP while facing firearms charges says he deserves the recognition for raising $10 million for charity through his family's radio station.

Maninder Gill said Tuesday that New Democrat MP Jinny Sims awarded him the medal at a banquet hall in Surrey on the weekend and that about 30 others were also recognized for their community service.

Gill, 49, said the charges he faces stem from an August 2010 incident when he was attacked by what he called "Khalistani goons" with knives for his stance against Sikh extremism by people vying for a separate state carved out of India's northern province of Punjab.

"This issue is only from Khalistani goons. I always speak against people who want an independent state in India. These are local people."

Gill, the managing director of the radio station, said he was exiting a temple with his wife, niece and daughter after giving a speech when the incident occurred and that he was acting in self-defence.

Two charges, including attempted murder, were dropped and he now faces "four or five minor charges," Gill said.

One man was shot in the leg during the incident outside the temple.

"I have been honoured by the provincial government.. . I've spent my whole life for raising money with radio-thons."

Gill said former premier Gordon Campbell recognized him in 2009 for his efforts to raise money for local hospitals and the victims of earthquakes in Pakistan and Haiti.

Sims said in a statement she was not aware of Gill's pending trial when she awarded him the medal.

"I recognize the seriousness of the crime he has been accused of committing and apologize to those who were offended that he was presented with the medal," Sims said.

"The Canadian legal system treats everyone fairly by ensuring that each accused person is considered to be innocent until they are found to be guilty in a court of law. It is therefore my responsibility to reserve making any other comments until this issues has been adjudicated by the court system."

Thousands of people across Canada are being awarded Diamond Jubilee medals by MPs for their social contributions to mark the Queen's 60th anniversary on the throne.

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