Joint statement of SLCAC and SLCAB about the verdict on TGEWA
Posted on July 8th, 2022

Sri Lankan Canadian Action Coalition Inc

Toronto July 7th – As you know, the Sri Lankan Canadian Action Coalition and Sri Lanka Canada Association of Brampton challenged the Tamil Genocide Education Week Act (TGEWA) on the basis that the Ontario government did not have the authority to make statements regarding a genocide that they claimed took place in Sri Lanka. While it is evident that our country suffered greatly from the war that occurred over many years, not a single competent international authority or Canadian federal government has recognized that a genocide occurred in Sri Lanka. In fact, the UN Human Rights commissioner has explicitly stated that there is currently no evidence for genocide.

Through the TGEWA, the Ontario government is indirectly mandating the education system to teach our students inaccuracies about Sri Lankan history which will impact generations to come. Historians, scholars, and educationists, and not politicians, should decide what should be taught as history.

We undertook this serious responsibility for our community, our temples and for Sri Lanka, despite many challenges.

On June 28th, 2022, we received the verdict for the Constitutional Challenge case we pursued on behalf of the Sri Lankan community to refute the claims made in the Tamil Genocide Education Week Act, 2021.

The verdict says that TGEWA is within the authority of the Ontario Provincial government’s jurisdiction. The judgment, delivered was not what we had hoped for, given our strong case. However, in her 18-page verdict, Ontario Superior Court Justice Akbarali did make some noteworthy statements:

[9] Over the course of these applications, I heard evidence about the Sri Lankan civil war, and specifically, whether or not what occurred amounted to a genocide of Tamils.

[10] A finding of genocide at law can neither be made nor excluded based on the record before me. Such a determination, under international criminal law, cannot be made in a two-day application based on a few written affidavits from individuals who were in Sri Lanka during the civil war and evidence from dueling experts. I make no findings about whether there was, or was not, a Tamil genocide in Sri Lanka.

[11] In this application, I am not deciding who bears the blame, or who bears more of the blame, for the tremendous suffering and trauma that occurred as a result of the Sri Lankan civil war.

Justice Akbarali, based her judgement on what he believed to be the constitutionality of the TGEWA stating the following:

[12] Nor am I deciding whether it was wise for the Ontario Legislature to pass the TGEWA. The wisdom of the legislation is a question that belongs solely to the Legislature, and more indirectly, to the voters of the province.

[13] The question before me relates only to the constitutionality of the TGEWA. I confine my reasons to that issue only.

Brief Conclusion

[14] For the reasons that follow, I find that the TGEWA is intra vires the province and does not violate the applicants’ ss. 2(b) or 15 Charter rights. As a result, the applications are dismissed.

[44] Second, while the TGEWA makes reference to genocide using words in its preamble that invoke the definition of genocide in international criminal law, it does not claim to determine that genocide has taken place beyond a reasonable doubt, the standard of proof within criminal law.

[45] The proceedings in the Legislature did not purport to follow any kind of process that one would expect to precede a determination under international criminal law that a government engaged in genocide. No oral evidence was led. No documents were reviewed. No arguments were made. No law on genocide was referred to. A declaration of genocide for purposes of international criminal law follows lengthy investigations of the facts, and a careful analysis of the law, because declarations of genocide under international criminal law have international consequences.

We are truly concerned with the ramifications of this judgement which included many political inferences. Justice Akbarali quoted the names of the politicians who made a statement during passing of Bill 104 in Ontario parliament and also produced the non-binding Federal motion by Gary Anandasangaree on May 18th, 2022, 8 days before the hearing of our case against TGEWA.

We believe that it is not in the best interest of the Ontario community to be supporting the teaching of a non-established Tamil Genocide to Ontarians, pushed by a political agenda. Our education system should be ruled by objectivity and exempt from political influences. Allowing politics into our classrooms damages the integrity of our institutions and risks turning our world-renowned education system into a propaganda tool.

Our lead counsel Dr. Fairley stated:

With respect to the division of powers portion of the reasons, pp. 5-12, the judge quotes volumes on one-sided statement of provincial MPPs and the TGEWA’s proponent Mr. Thanigasalam in support of the bill, as evidence of its purportedly educational” character, without noting at any point the exclusion of alternative viewpoints your community sought in vain throughout the legislative process. Paragraph 38 is particularly telling where the Akbarali J. acknowledges the Act recognizes a Tamil Genocide”, without dealing with our central submission that such a declaration is false, belying any legitimate educational purpose. In short, the Court’s rationale proceeds on a false premise. In that regard, the decision completely ignores the expert evidence of Dr. Schabas on point.

At this stage, we are evaluating all options before proceeding to appeal the verdict that must be filed before July 31st, 2022. While we believe that we must keep fighting to ensure the integrity of our history and of our Canadian school systems, the financial burden has become immense. The associations are looking into all possible avenues to go forward with this cause.

We would like to thank the community who rallied behind us, donated and came together to raise funds by organizing many events. We will continue to pay the outstanding amount to our lawyers even though this verdict is has been delivered while we are facing financial hardships due to the increased challenge of raising funds.

We encourage you to contact us with any additional questions, comments or ideas at info@srilankancanadian.ca

You can see the full verdict here:

https://drive.google.com/…/1tBXeY44MepcLDVibxvl…/view…

You can see the full statement from our lead counsel here:

https://drive.google.com/…/1tFsv61aeeMJUkYPebZJ…/view…

Please continue to support our efforts to raise funds:

1. eTransfer email (Auto deposit enabled):

eTransfer@srilankancanadian.ca

2. GoFundMe Link:

https://www.gofundme.com/…/legal-fund-for-fighting…

3. Paypal (one time or monthly donations):

https://tinyurl.com/28ndshwy

4. Cheque:

Sri Lankan Canadian Action Coalition Inc

Suite 401, 900 Greenbank Road, Nepean, Ontario,K2J 4P6,Canada

Sri Lankan Canadian Action Coalition and Sri Lanka Canada Association of Brampton

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Sri Lankan Canadian Action Coalition Inc
Suite 401, 900 Greenbank Road, Nepean, Ontario,K2J 4P6,Canada

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