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Air India bombing: Canada's saga continues

Many fear the security gaps that resulted in the 1985 Air India bombing still exist.

Then, on June 12, someone who attended a meeting of Sikh extremists told the RCMP that a radical leader informed the meeting that an attack would occur in two weeks. The RCMP did not share the information with CSIS.

The commission also found a litany of transportation security failures the day of the bombing, including the fact that the suitcase bomb that downed Air India was allowed on the plane even though the passenger who checked it never boarded.

After the bombing, the RCMP mishandled trial witnesses and overlooked important leads before shelving the investigation for years. The federal government, meanwhile, was more concerned with protecting itself against liability than in helping the families of victims, the commission reported. The government ordered officials not to refer to the attack as a “bombing,” and cabinet ministers refused to meet family representatives for more than a decade.

Last June, Prime Minister Stephen Harper officially apologized for the “institutional failings of 25 years ago and the treatment of the victim’s families thereafter.” The government has also promised compensation.

Last December, in its official response to the Major commission’s 64 recommendations, the government was widely criticized for being vague about beefing up airport security, and for rejecting the establishment of a national security “czar,” who would ensure that CSIS and the RCMP coordinate their efforts.

Many fear the security gaps that resulted in the Air India bombing still exist.