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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Bob Rae to probe need for Air India inquiry

Not that anyone cares, but isn't Bob Rae a dead-ringer for Bruce Davidson as Senator Kelly in the X-Men movies?

Wait a minute... do you know what this means?



Newly appointed as an independent advisor to the government on calls for an inquiry into the Air India disaster, former Ontario premier Bob Rae says he hopes to work quickly.

Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan announced the appointment Tuesday, charging Rae with providing independent advice on the bombing that killed 329 people aboard an Air India flight in 1985.

In an interview with CTV's Canada AM, Rae said Wednesday morning that he expects to be talking to relatives of the victims within days.

"I want to get on with it," he said. "I think it's important for us to move forward and for us to recognize that the families have waited for a long time for some resolution of what happened."
Rae has already found himself the subject of criticism, however.

Ottawa Air-India 182 Victims Families Association spokesperson Susheel Gupta told the Globe and Mail that Rae was an unqualified candidate for an unnecessary job.

"He's not an anti-terrorism expert, he's not an investigator," Gupta told the paper. "It offends me and it angers me, but sadly we are used to being treated like this."

After twenty years without answers about the crash off the Irish coast that claimed his mother, Gupta said the need for an inquiry should be obvious.

"The questions are already out there. Why do we have to come up with the questions?"
Responding to the criticism, Rae said he has relevant experience -- including five years on the security intelligence review committee.

But he's not interested in debating his credentials.

"Having been in politics for 20 years, I'm used to people saying nasty things or things that aren't very kind or negative things," he told CTV's Canada AM on Wednesday.

"So that doesn't trouble me at all.

"I think one just has to work ahead ... and I think there are a number of people who are very interested in being constructive," he added, suggesting Gupta might eventually be among them.
The government has asked Rae to review all materials and previous inquiry findings, such as those conducted by the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) and the Canadian Aviation Safety Board; and transportation and security measures related to the bombing.

"Only when we have a good understanding of any outstanding questions that can reasonably be answered now can we decide on the next steps, but I want to emphasize that I am open to all options," said McLellan.

Before becoming a partner at Toronto-based international law firm Goodman Phillips & Vineberg, Rae had a distinguished career in the public sector.

He served as Premier of Ontario from 1990 to 1995 before retiring from politics in 1996. He was appointed member of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada in 1998 and served as a member of the Canada Transportation Act Review and SIRC.

He was educated at the International School of Geneva and University of Toronto, and he was a Rhodes Scholar at Balliol College, Oxford.

He is President, and past-Chairman, of the non-profit, international organization Forum of Federations.


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