Gurpreet Singh: Dave Hayer's opposition to religious extremism will be missed in the B.C. legislature

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The announcement by Surrey-Tynehead Liberal MLA Dave Hayer not to run in the next provincial election has come as a rude shock to moderate Sikhs in Greater Vancouver.

With the defeat of Ujjal Dosanjh in the last federal election, Hayer had become the lone moderate voice among Indo Canadian politicians on the west coast.

Hayer is a vocal critic of terrorism and religious extremism. He has consistently opposed fundamentalism and recently raised the Air India issue in the B.C. legislature.

Bombs placed on two planes left 331 people dead on June 23, 1985 in the worst world's worst case of aviation terrorism before 9/11. The bombings were blamed on the Sikh separatist group Babbar Khalsa.

Hayer’s father Tara Singh Hayer, a slain editor of the Indo Canadian Times, was a potential witness in any Air India trials until he was murdered in 1998.

Though he died as a critic of terrorism, Tara Singh Hayer once supported Sikh separatists. Ironically, he glorified Talwinder Singh Parmar, the alleged mastermind of the Air India conspiracy in his writings.

Tara Singh Hayer later fell out with the militants and survived a first attempt on his life in 1988, which left him paralyzed.

Dave Hayer has time and again sought action against the conspirators behind the Air India bombings. His frequent criticism of militancy has evoked sharp reaction from fundamentalist groups. It is even rumoured in the community that the fundamentalist lobby had him removed from the position of parliamentary secretary after Christy Clark became the premier—and may have actually influenced his decision to quit.

He was not alone in criticizing fundamentalism when Dosanjh was a member of Parliament. Dosanjh, who lost his seat as Vancouver South MP in 2011, also invited trouble for repeatedly criticizing Sikh fundamentalists.

The former Liberal MP was beaten for his moderate views in 1985. Dosanjh also received many death threats for speaking out against violence.

Although I don't agree with Hayer's right-wing politics and have annoyed him at times by speaking out against B.C. Liberal cutbacks and the anti-labour position of his party, his consistent opposition to terrorism deserves appreciation.

Once, I publicly mocked him as an ineffective MLA who was only good for holding coffee meetings with his constituents. Yet I always respected him for speaking out against fundamentalism. His father's past allegiance with Sikh separatists may have been problematic, but Dave Hayer was more consistent and clear in his thoughts against terrorism and never compromised with those forces.

He even honoured Dr. Darshan Gill, a leftist newspaper editor who fought against militancy and died last year of cancer. This was despite the fact that his father had differences with Gill when Sikh militancy was at its peak in Canada.

Gurpreet Singh is Georgia Straight contributor, and the host of a program on Radio India. He's working on a book tentatively titled Canada's 9/11: Lessons from the Air India Bombings.

Comments (8) Add New Comment
Teggs
It is to the credit of die hard Indophile Gurpreet Singh, who while praising another chip of the same block Dave Hair, NEVER EVER misses any opportunity to be the mouthpiece of Indian propaganda mills and spew unadulterated venom against Sikhs who are fighting for justice and human rights.
As a veteran propagandist who wears the clock of a journalist he shamelessly talks about non-existent fundamentalism and terrorism in Canada while being COMPLETELY silent about the mass murder of tens of thousands of Sikhs by his New Delhi masters.
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g kaur
It's unfortunate when an apparently Sikh reporter neglects the teachings of his own faith and conforms to the western media imposed classifications of moderate and fundamental. All sikhs are one of the same, as are all humans but I guess people of your generation have difficulty letting that go. People like you and Dave Hayer perpetuate this unnecessary division amongst a community trying to heal and unite over years of divisions.
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DavidH
@ g kaur: In Canada, reporters and columnists are not required to adhere to the "teachings" of their own faith. Furthermore, it is silly to suggest that "all Sikhs are one of the same". Or are you saying that Sikhs represent a "drone army"??

@ Teggs: It is ironic that you condemn the author of this article as deeply biased when it is obvious to a blind man that you are also deeply biased. Do you really expect to gain support for your position by accusing your opponent of "unadulterated venom" and of being a "veteran propagandist"?

If you can't put your hatred and contempt behind you, your cause is lost. Canadians will tune you out. Soon, I hope.
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Bikramjit Singh
Our resident Desh Bigot Gurpreet Singh doesn't like Sikhs using their democratic power to vote out or remove people whose politics they do not agree with. A few weeks ago he had an article about a communist woman who was urging her communist and left wing followers how to take over Sikh Gurdwaras! It is a good sign that the old left wing communist types and India's yes men in Canada are being voted from power both as political representives and as the administrators of Sikh Gurdwaras. Gurpreet Singh perhaps needs to move back to the country whose spokesman he has been since he came to Canada,
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DavidH
It's very interesting to see the hatred, intolerance and racism of the South Asian community, posted here for all to see.

Those who demand tolerance from others do not seem wiliing to grant the same freedom to others ... eh?
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Bruce
Was about to make a comment, then realized DavidH said all I wanted to say, but more eloquently and to the bone.
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G Kaur
DavidH, i'm surprised you are able to contort my words so easily. The "teachings of their own faith" refers to the basic principle in the Sikh scriptures that all humans are equal and man-made divisions are unnecessary. That is what I was referring to. Mr. Singh and his generation need to stop perpetuating these unnecessary divisions.

Our generation is trying to get past these labels and promote the teachings that we are all humans, and to realize there is more to unite us than divide us (and that isn't with Sikhs alone as I clearly mentioned). The human race has more to unite us regardless of religion, race, etc.

Realizing that there doesn't have to sides, fighting and conflict does not in any way signify Sikhs to be a "drone army" but rather a cooperative and peaceful community.

"If you can't see God in all, you can't see God at all"

I'm surprised of how this message signifies hatred, intolerance and racism, but I guess one will interpret only what they would like to see and hear.

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Satnam Singh Sidhu
It is an old article but always fresh and alive in minds of those who suffered during 1978 on wards in India under a well planned strategy of Indian top level politics and bureaucracy at central government to put down demands of Punjab for more autonomous state (province).

In other words Punjab wanted to lead a change in political structure in India, under which all states would have enjoyed more decision making power at provincial level, leaving less control in the hand of NATIONAL government.

Punjab were struggling for similar right as being enjoyed by Canadian provinces and USA states.

This could have been a big change in India. It was not favorable to Center Government of India. One reason behind it was not to lose control. Second reason was the politics was controlled by Hindi speaking demographics of India. That Hindi speaking lobby had every effort to finish all regional languages in India and enforce Hindi as national language.

That Hindi Lobby was so strong in Center Government that they portrayed non-Hindi speaking provinces as enemy to India. It is called India but majority Hindus call it Hindustan. A land of Hindus. Who is Hindu? Who practices various Hindu deities (Number is unknown but huge) and consider Brahmins (Top caste in Hindism) as their religious priests and speak Hindi.

Moreover Sikh Gurus openly criticized the social system under Hinduism which was totally racist, discriminatory, gender biased, caste based, slavery type. In 1699 tenth Sikh Guru officially gave birth to new society with new values and religion. That was Equality and Freedom of speech.

Fifth and Ninth Guru of Sikhs were tortured to death by Muslim emperors in Lahore and Delhi because Gurus also wrote about the insincerity and ill-practices of Muslim priest called Mullah and Kaji.

Since majority Sikhs in Punjab speaks Punjabi and practice Sikhism, they are always on hit list of Hindu fundamentalists.

When Punjab demanded for autonomy, it was portrayed as a separatist movement by Center Government governed by majority Hindus. Co-incidentally one of Sikh religious organisation called Dhamdhami Taksal, came in direct conflict with Government, when a small sect of Sikh followers called Namdhari started insulting Holy Guru Granth Sahib of Sikhs.

Center Government took advantage of it - portrayed it as separatist movement to take focus away from demands of Punjab.
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