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Feds call for vigilance, 28 years after Air India bombing

06/23/2013 05:43 EDT | Updated 08/23/2013 05:12 EDT
It has been 28 years since Canadians experienced the most horrific act of terrorism, and the somber anniversary has become known as the National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Terrorism.

On June 23, 1985, a bomb on Air India Flight 182 killed all 329 passengers and crew members aboard, 280 of them Canadians.

- In-depth: Air India Flight 182

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In a statement released to mark the anniversay, Prime Minister Stephen Harper expanded the scope of the anniversary beyond the Air India bombing to include other terrible acts that have directly impacted Canada, and Canadians.

“Today, we pay tribute to the memory of victims of this atrocity, and to those who have lost their lives in other acts of terrorism, including during the September 11, 2001 attacks in the U.S., and, recently, the Boston Marathon bombings and the terror attack in Woolwich, London," he said.

Harper also outlined several initiative the Canadian government has undertaken in recent years, including sending troops and diplomats to Afghanistan "to prevent that country from again becoming a base for terrorism," and undertaking security measures within Canada's border, such as passing Bill S-9 last week, which he said would allow Canada to take measures to prevent nuclear terrorism.

Harper said the elimination of terrorism continues to be at the forefront of his government's priorities, as recent commitments demonstrate. Two years ago, on the 26th anniversary of the bombing, Harper announced the $10-million Kanishka Project, named after Air India Flight 182, which is a five-year national research project to understand recruitment tactics and detect conspiracies.

In a written statement, Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews said that although Canada has rarely been a target of terrorism, it is nevertheless a growing threat.

"Although we as Canadians rarely have to face this brutal reality, recent terrorist events and arrests demonstrate that terrorism poses a real threat to Canada and remains a global problem," he said in a written statement.

Toews said that he is committed to giving police the tools they need to properly protect the country.

"We place the utmost priority on preventing, countering and prosecuting terrorism. The best way to honour the memories of the victims of Air India Flight 182 is to remain vigilant and work to ensure such a heinous act is never repeated."

In April, the federal government also passed the Combating Terrorism Act (Bill S-7), which was advertised as an important tool in disrupting plans for terrorist attacks and in investigating past acts of terrorism.

- 8 things to know about the new anti-terrorism bill

No closure, compensation for families

In the case of the Air India bombing, no one has yet been convicted for the crime itself.

In 2011, Inderjit Singh Reyat was sentenced to nine years for perjury stemming from statements made as a Crown witness in the 2003 trial of Ripudiman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri. In 2010, Malik and Bagri were acquitted on charges of conspiring to blow up Air India Flight 182.

- Read more: Air India bomber gets 9 years for perjury

- Air India families treated with 'disdain': PM

Newton-North Delta New Democrat MP Jinny Sims asked Sunday for the federal government to implement recommendations that came out 2010, four years after an inquiry into the Air India bombing was launched.

"On the anniversary of this atrocity, I ask all of us to join together in remembrance of the victims and their families," she said.

"Today I urge the Conservative government to give the affected families and all Canadians solace by implementing the reccommendations that came out of the Air India inquiry, recommendations that have thus far been ignored."

In 2010, Harper offered a formal apology for the "institutional failings" that led to the Air India bombing and the "administrative disdain" in which the victims' families were later treated. He made no mention of compensation for the families of the victims.

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