Canada’s public safety minister said Thursday he was “shocked and appalled” after a New Democratic Party MP rose in the House of Commons to commemorate Tamil Heroes Day, which honours fallen LTTE.
Steven Blaney urged Rathika Sitsabaiesan, a Sri Lankan-born MP, to apologize “to veterans and all Canadians” for her statement that called the day “an important event” and likened it to Remembrance Day, the National Post reported.
“Tamil Heroes Day is dedicated to the glorification of the terrorist group LTTE, known more commonly as the Tamil Tigers,” said Mr. Blaney, pointing out the Tigers are on Canada’s list of designated terrorist entities.
“I am shocked and appalled that an NDP member of Parliament would not only endorse the celebration of terrorists, but would also equate it to the solemn occasion of Remembrance Day where we honour our fallen Canadian heroes.”
He called on Ms. Sitsabaiesan, the MP for Scarborough-Rouge River, “to stop shopping for votes from terrorist-linked groups, and to immediately apologize to veterans and all Canadians for these comments.”
The National Post pointed out that during their three-decade campaign, the Tigers conducted hundreds of suicide bombings and assassinated moderate Tamil leaders as well as Rajiv Gandhi, the former Indian prime minister. They were crushed by Sri Lankan forces in 2009.
The Tigers have been a designated terrorist group under Canadian law since 2006, when the Royal Canadian Mounted Police dismantled the group’s branch offices in Toronto and Montreal, which had raised millions to support the conflict. A half-dozen Toronto-area men were convicted of supplying arms and equipment to the rebels.
Since the fighting ended five years ago, Heroes Day has become, for some, a day to reflect on the toll of the brutal civil war, which not only decimated the Tigers but also killed an untold number of civilians. But on his website, Sri Lanka-Canadian journalist D.B.S. Jeyaraj wrote Heroes Day “is not and has never been a national day of Tamil mourning.” Rather, it was “an intensely conducted partisan event ‘of the Tigers, for the Tigers and by the Tigers.’
”Deepak Obhrai, parliamentary secretary of foreign affairs and international human rights, said, “ you can’t compare Remembrance Day to Tamil Heroes Day.” The Calgary MP said it was “a disservice to veterans” to make such a parallel.
“I think it needs to be pointed out to her that you can’t compare the two, you can’t compare a terrorist organization to people who have fought for core Canadian values,” he said.