OTTAWA, Ontario, Can.: Commons Speaker John Fraser will attend a special reception on Parliament Hill sponsored. By Canadian Sikh weeks after External Affairs Minister Joe Clark raised the ire of the Sikh community by warning politicians against meetings with three Sikh groups.

The buffet reception April 23 in the Centre Block of the Parliament Buildings is the second such event marking Vaisakhi, the anniversary of the founding of the Sikh faith.

Clark can’t attend but one of the event’s organizers said the minister’s wife, Maureen McTeer, plans to be there. One of Clark’s top aides, William Chambers has also indicated he plans to attend.

Clark angered the Canadian Sikhs earlier this year when he circulated a letter to seven provincial premiers, asking them not to meet with or give public support to three Sikh groups Clark called dangerous radicals.

The letter said the premiers should not meet with members of Babbar Khalsa, the International Youth Federation, or with the World Sikh Organization. It said these groups advocate a separate Sikh nation in the Indian state of Punjab.

At least two of the organizations, Babbar Khalsa and the Sikh Student Federation say the separate Sikh state to be known as Khalistan should be created, no matter what the cost.

Clark was forced to defend the letter in the Commons and he took the charges one step further by stating that radical Sikhs pose “the greatest internal security threat” faced by Canada.

He cited several attacks in Canada and involving Canadian interests as proof of his allegation and repeated his original statement that the violent radicals represent only a minuscule proportion of the Sikh community.

But the Commons multiculturalism committee demanded he appear before it to explain his letter and the statements. His office is reported to be preparing a dossier supporting his comment that the radical Sikh minority is a threat to Canadian security.

The organizer of the dinner next month said he is not sure how many members of Parliament will attend, but added that about 40 showed up last year. He said Fraser will give a short speech at the reception.


Article extracted from this publication >> April 22, 1988