Trudeau visits gurdwara after government removes reference to Sikh extremism

VANCOUVER — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the dedication to helping others at the heart of Sikh faith are also “fundamental to who we are as a country.”

Trudeau spoke today at one of the largest Sikh temples in the country, Vancouver’s Ross Street Gurdwara, and was set to take part in a massive parade to mark the Sikh holy day of Vaisakhi.

Attendees at the morning ceremony sat on the floor, many of them in colourful turbans, as speeches by several political leaders were broadcast on two massive screens.

Trudeau praised the Sikh community for its values of “equality and social justice” and noted its long history in Canada dating back to the turn of the 20th century.

His speech came just hours after the federal government agreed to remove a reference to Sikh extremism from a report on terrorism.

The language was changed late Friday to remove any mention of religion, instead discussing the threat posed by “extremists who support violent means to establish an independent state within India.”

The 2018 Public Report on the Terrorism Threat to Canada drew the ire of the Sikh community when it was released in December.

For the first time, the report listed Sikh extremism as one of the top five extremist threats in Canada.

Although the objections were largely about the inclusion of Sikhs at all, because of the report’s lack of evidence to back it up, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said he would at least ask for a review of the language the report used.

He said entire religions should never be equated with terrorism.

There are roughly half a million Canadians who identify as Sikh, most of them in the Greater Toronto Area and suburban Vancouver.

After speaking at the gurdwara on Saturday, Trudeau and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan were to march in Vancouver’s Vaisakhi Parade.

The Canadian Press

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