Sunday, June 05, 2005

What Will Bill Siksay Say on Monday?

In the House of Commons, Statements by Members is always a prime spot for individual MPs to show their stuff. Take this example from Friday's Hansard:

Mr. Bill Siksay (Burnaby—Douglas, NDP): Mr. Speaker, earlier this week the B.C. federal NDP caucus made a statement on the beating and humiliation in Richmond, B.C. of an Indo-Canadian youth.

This young man reported that he was assaulted, had his turban knocked off and his hair shorn. We deplore in the strongest possible terms this shocking attack. We are deeply concerned about the apparent racist nature of the attack. Our sympathy and thoughts are with the victim and his family.

The Indo-Canadian community has contributed much to our region and our country through its hard work and generosity and the richness of its faiths, languages, and culture. When someone from the Sikh community is attacked, we stand in solidarity with the victim and the community.

The Richmond RCMP has vowed to track down the people responsible and we support its call for any information from the public that will help bring the perpetrators to justice.

We call upon everyone in the lower mainland and indeed all Canadians of every origin and faith to work together to achieve a society where racist attacks no longer occur.

Now I'm sure Mr. Sikay felt rather pleased with himself about his statement. Right up to the point when he saw this story from CBC News:

B.C. police are calling off a hate-crimes investigation, after a Sikh teenager admitted he made up a story about a group of white men beating him and cutting his hair.

Police had appealed for tips earlier in the week, after the 17-year-old said five men jumped him behind an elementary school in Richmond on May 26.

Cpl. Peter Thiesson told a news conference on Saturday that the teen's wounds were self-inflicted. He said they snatched off his turban and chopped his hair, which – for religious reasons – had never been cut.

The teenager admitted on Friday that it never happened, Richmond RCMP said at a news conference Saturday.

"He disclosed to us that in fact he had fabricated the entire incident," Cpl. Peter Thiesson said.

"The injuries that we observed on him that required medical attention were self-inflicted, that he cut his own hair and that he disclosed this to no one."

I suppose we should cut Mr. Siksay a break. After all, commenting on a fake story, in a public forum such as Parliament, is nothing new.

If there's any lesson for MPs to learn, it's to think about a situation before opening your mouth (anyone for a bowl of Grewal?). When it comes to the news, things are not always what reporters see.