Premier David Eby says federal ministers have assured him British Columbia will get the information it needs to ensure the safety of its residents after a Sikh leader was killed in June.
His statement came on the same day that gurdwara councils in B.C. and Ontario called for the immediate suspension of all security and intelligence agreements with India and repeated their calls for a public inquiry into the death of Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Surrey, B.C.
The British Columbia Gurdwaras Council and Ontario Gurdwaras Committee say it is clear, based on public reports, that intelligence agencies were aware of the threat to Nijjar’s life, which “suggests a concerning failure of Canada’s security agencies to prevent a foreseeable violent crime and gives rise to wider concerns within the community.”
Eby said on Friday that he “strongly” suspected the federal government was holding back information that could help the province protect its residents with connections to India from foreign interference.
The premier spent two days in Ottawa this week meeting with various ministers and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and says he expressed the need for more information about safety concerns from the intelligence community so B.C. could “put in place provincial responses to address these issues faster.”
While Eby says he’s received no additional information about the killing, Trudeau and Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc made commitments to him to improve information sharing.
“The mechanisms by which that will happen are not clear yet, because they also advised that they believe the CSIS Act is the thing that’s frustrating that information sharing, and they both committed that the work is well advanced in addressing that blockage,” Eby told reporters Tuesday.
The CSIS Act outlines Canadian Security Intelligence Service roles and responsibilities, grants specific powers and imposes constraints. It also prohibits the agency from investigating acts of lawful advocacy, protest or dissent.
“I look forward to those reforms and we’re taking all the steps we can in partnership with them to get whatever information can be shared despite that block without compromising any criminal investigation, so the province can take the actions we need to take to protect British Columbians,” Eby said.