Canadian PM Harper to apologise for Kanishka bombing; compensation likely

At a national memorial in Toronto today for the 329 victims of the Air India 'Kanishka' bombing, families still mourning their loved ones will finally hear the words for which they have waited 25 years.

Canada's Prime Minister Stephen HarperPrime Minister Stephen Harper, in an address marking the 25th anniversary of the bombing and his first public comments on what he called a ''damning'' inquiry report, plans to acknowledge the catastrophic failures of intelligence, policing and air security that led to the bombing, and the prosecutorial lapses that followed.

His message will be a formal apology on behalf of the Canadian government to the victims' families, transmitted with the simplest of words: ''We are sorry.''

According to excerpts of his remarks that have been accessed by the media, Harper intends to outline a bald truth that has dogged successive governments, Conservative and Liberal, which had refused to call an inquiry into the affair. ''The destruction of Air India Flight 182 on 23 June 1985 was, and remains, the single worst act of terrorism in Canadian history,'' Harper's address says.

The address and formal apology attempts to capture the sheer horror of a disaster that has not eased with time: ''We know only that terrorism is an enemy with a thousand faces, and a hatred that festers in the darkest spots of the human mind. This was evil. Perpetrated by cowards. Despicable. Senseless. And vicious.''

Harper will also acknowledge that the words come late, and may offer only a small measure of comfort. ''Some wounds are too deep to be healed even by the remedy of time. We are sorry,'' he will say.