A huge crowd packed a Surrey Sikh temple Sunday to pay respect to Tara Singh Hayer — the only journalist ever murdered in Canada.

Hayer was gunned down Nov. 18, 1998 in his Guildford garage after writing critically of violent extremists and agreeing to be a witness in the Air India bombing case.

His Liberal MLA son Dave Hayer said Sunday the family is still pained by the fact that no one has ever been charged in the murder of his father, who was in a wheelchair after an earlier assassination attempt.

“It is a sad day when we have to still go back and remember after 14 years that there still hasn’t been any closure in my dad’s case,” Hayer said at the Brookside Gurdwara.

Hayer said details about the murder have emerged through related court cases, the media and at the inquiry into the 1985 Air India bombing.

Police have information linking the murder to the Babbar Khalsa terrorist group, which was also behind the bombing.

“My father was a man who didn’t really look after himself and his family. He was always looking after the community and society,” Hayer said. “He always said if you believe in something, you have to stand up for it, even if it means risking your own life.”

Hayer’s sister Rupinder Bains, who continues to run her father’s community newspaper, the Indo-Canadian Times, with relatives, said the anniversary is a difficult day.

“For our family, it is very very frustrating. Every year we keep hearing ‘OK something is going to be done, don’t give up hope,’ ” she said.
“We always remember him day and night. But this time of year is the hardest for the family.”

Surrey RCMP Insp. Gary Begg said Tara Hayer was a symbol of freedom of the press.

“As we gather here today, 14 years after his death, it is incumbent on us all that we embody and preserve the freedom that Tara Singh Hayer ultimately died for — a free and independent press that is open and accessible to all people,” Begg said.
Politicians of all stripes attended the event.