Canada promises better handling of terror cases
VANCOUVER: Canada has vowed to improve co-operation between its police and intelligence services to combat terrorism and avoid a repeat of the Air India bombing, but it is still working on details of how it will do that.
The government released a "road map" for dealing with terrorism cases that echoes some recommendations of an official inquiry this year that found a "cascading series of errors" in Canada's handling of the 1985 bombing of Air India Flight 182. The explosion over the Atlantic Ocean, while the plane was en route from Montreal to India via London, killed 329 people and remains history's deadliest bombing of an airliner.
"The threat of terrorism is real, persistent and evolving... It is not too late to learn from the atrocity that was Air India," Public Safety Minister Vic Toews told reporters in Ottawa.
The new plan, parts of which had already been unveiled, promises improved intelligence-sharing among police, the national spy agency-the Canadian Security Intelligence Service-and government finance officials.
The Air India inquiry found that police and intelligence officials failed to share evidence that could have stopped the attack before it happened, and also found that infighting hampered efforts to catch and prosecute those involved.
Despite one of the most intensive investigations in Canadian history, only one person was ever convicted in connection with the bombing, and the Canadian government apologized this year to the victims' families.
Toews acknowledged that Ottawa is still wrestling with thorny legal and privacy questions concerning how information collected for national security purposes can also be used as evidence in criminal cases. "Intelligence is collected for very different purposes and is collected differently than evidence for a criminal trial," Toews, a former prosecutor, told reporters. -Reuters