Having turned a blind eye to the Tamil Tigers for so many years, we no longer have credibility in lecturing Sri Lanka over its post-war policies, Martin Collacot, the Canadian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka in 1983 said.
The fact that Canada alone chose not to send its foreign minister to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo, however, may be more the result of domestic Canadian considerations - such as increasing political support among Tamil voters - than anything else, he wrote in a comment tiled "How Canada became the odd man out in Sri Lanka" in National Post.
Canada has the largest Sri Lankan Tamil community outside of South Asia and many Tamils living in Canada came here as refugees. Indeed, in one year alone (2003), Canada accepted far more Tamil refugee claimants than all the other countries in the world combined. Some of these refugees had ties to the Tamil Tigers military and terrorist group that was then fighting against Sri Lanka's government, the former Canadian High Commissioner said.
The voting power of these Tamils distorted Canadian policy: Liberal governments repeatedly ignored CSIS recommendations that the Tamil Tigers be designated as a terrorist organization, even though Britain and the United States had done so. As a result, the Tigers were able to use Canada as one of their principal bases for fundraising - a situation that may well have contributed to prolonging the conflict and carnage in Sri Lanka.
Even after the Conservatives took office in 2006, and wasted no time in adding the Tamil Tigers to the official national list of terrorist groups, Tiger supporters continued to exercise considerable influence within the Liberal Party of Canada. At the Liberals' December 2006 leadership convention, for example, a block of delegates pressing to have the Tigers removed from the terrorist list played a key role in the selection of the new leader.
As for calls for an international investigation into the alleged massacre of Tamil civilians, many killings occurred in large measure because the Tigers chose to use their own population as human shields.