Our hearts are hollow.
We had hoped that, after two decades, after a generation, that justice would be done. That 331 lives would speak stronger than legal jargon, that frail memories would have spoken with a stronger voice, that acceptance of evidence condemning the accused would have been made.
But such was not the case. And there lies a tragedy almost as cruel as the one that shattered so many families 20 years ago.
So many had hoped that our justice system would have provided solace for those who lost so much, but the evidence was not, in the words of Mr. Justice Ian Bruce Josephson of the B.C. Supreme Court, compelling enough, was not sufficient to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Indeed, he said, "the evidence had fallen markedly short" of that standard.
This case was about combatting terrorism, and that has not been achieved. The failure to solve this case has told the world that terrorism can flourish in Canada, that terrorism can be perpetrated with impunity.
We hear the words from the RCMP that the investigation will continue. But it has been 20 years. Do we believe that anyone else will ever go before the courts, that justice will ever be done for the families of 331 innocent souls?
My father, Tara Singh Hayer, publisher of the Punjabi-language newspaper the Indo-Canadian Times, was to have been a witness at the trial. In August of 1988, just days after his newspaper had published an article on Air-India naming someone he believed had had close involvement, he was shot at close range with a .357 magnum revolver and left paralyzed. This did not stop him from giving signed statements about the case to the RCMP. In November of 1998, he was assassinated as he was getting out of his car. Do we believe justice will ever be served in the maiming and killing of my father?
Today, we now have serious doubts that justice ever will be served. On that tragic day in 1985, 329 lives were blown to pieces in the skies over Ireland. In Japan, two innocent baggage handlers at Narita Airport were taken from their families.
All by people who may still live among us in British Columbia. People who may still walk among us, while 331 people will never smile again, will never hug their loved ones, will never walk the Earth again.
We are shattered, as are so many others. While a public inquiry might help to repair flaws that were apparent in our justice system, might bring closure, might lay blame, might renew confidence in our legal system and in our investigative forces, it cannot bring back those lives. It truly cannot bring justice to those who chose to rise above the law, to destroy innocents, in an effort to speak against their own perceived and perverted sense of injustice.
They only brought injustice to our community. For that, we shall ever be divided, until one day under the judgment of God we will all find justice, honesty and closure.
But as long as the victims' families are alive, as long as the children and the children of those children live, we will never forget. And we will continue to seek justice.
We must prevail, because if we give up, if we stop believing that honesty and faith and the truth are more important than ideology, then the terrorists will prevail.
Too many people fought and died in wars to bring freedom and justice to this country to let that happen. We must have faith that, one day, justice will come, that closure will come for all those who lost loved ones.
We believe that, had my father, Tara Singh Hayer, lived to see this day, had lived to testify, that the case of what happened to Air-India Flight 182 would now be resolved. But he is dead, along with other witnesses to this horrific event.
For my father, terrorists took that opportunity to testify away, again stole justice from all those who have lost so much.
The tragedy in this is that we have not only lost so many lives so long ago, but we will have a community divided and a justice and investigative system called into question.
For many Canadians, an enormous tragedy is the loss of faith in a system on which all of us must rely.
Yet we cannot allow evil to prevail. We must have hope, we must have faith, that the RCMP, that government, that the people will one day bring those responsible to justice.
My father died for that belief, and we hold it today despite this decision. Even if it takes another generation, another 20 years, we believe that, so long as we remain committed to the truth, justice will be done.
Dave Hayer is the Liberal MLA for the B.C. riding of Surrey-Tynehead. Isabelle Martinez Hayer is his wife.