Yesterday, Public Eye published an interview with Bill Cunningham, executive director of the federal government minister's regional office in Vancouver, where he explained his presence at a demonstration attended by former members of a terrorist group banned in Canada. In that interview, Mr. Cunningham said he might not have attended the rally had he known the International Sikh Young Federation was going to be there. But, according to our tipsters at the rally, when The Vancouver Sun's Kim Bolan asked about the presence of the former federation members, the Martini shaker told her "I don't know if it was one or two people or if it's many, but I don't think the actions or past of a few should be reflective of the altruistic goal of the larger group." The group was protesting the alleged arrest and torture of 2,000 to 3,000 innocents within the last few week by the Indian government. In related news, the Opposition leader's office has now started asking questions about Mr. Cunningham's appearance at the event. The following is a copy of their news release.
Office of the Leader of the Opposition
Cabinet du chef de l'opposition
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 13, 2005
Liberal's big day out
Senior Liberal aide speaks at rally organized by terrorist group
OTTAWA - Liberal candidate and Martin organizer Bill Cunningham spoke at a rally this weekend in Vancouver. The event was organized by former members of the International Sikh Youth Federation, a terrorist group banned in Canada. Cunningham is presently a ministerial staffer for Industry Minister David Emerson and Leader of the Government in the Senate, Jack Austin.
Question: Who authorized Mr. Cunningham to speak at this rally?
Cunningham addressed the rally, standing in front of a large sign that said "Save Punjab." (Vancouver Sun, July 11, 2005)
"So I was there to receive their - I didn't know whether it was a petition, proclamation, manifesto or whatever it was." - Bill Cunningham (Public Eye Online, July 12, 2005)
Cunningham received a letter from the group, which he said would be sent to Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew. Even in retrospect, he has no concerns about the group or rally. (Public Eye Online, July 12, 2005)
Cunningham admitted the original request for a government representative was sent to the regional office for Emerson and Austin, where he works as a senior staffer. He says a similar request probably went to the Prime Minister's Office and other BC Ministers before it was sent to him. (Public Eye Online, July 12, 2005)
Who authorized Mr. Cunningham to speak at this rally? The Minister's office or the PMO?
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For more information: Official Opposition Press Office (613) 947-2400