Skip to main content Skip to local navigation

Professor Alice MacLachlan on Air India, public inquiries, morality and search for truth

Professor Alice MacLachlan on Air India, public inquiries, morality and search for truth

The release of the Air India inquiry report Thursday will help solidify a public narrative around the deadliest terrorist attack perpetrated in Canada, wrote The Globe and Mail June 16:

As it was with Britain’s Bloody Sunday report and apology on Tuesday, or the residential schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada event launched Wednesday, or the inquiry report into the death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski to be released Friday, this is a moment when the public will be forced to come to terms with its past.

Alice MacLachlan, a philosophy professor in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, says these concluding chapters share an important undercurrent: a recognition that the past must be dealt with. There’s no statute of limitations on moral responsibility, and the traditional mechanisms of justice aren’t able to deal with these ruptures satisfactorily.

“The wrongs of the past, whether it’s Air India or Bloody Sunday or the residential schools, can’t always be measured out materially or legally…. Part of dealing with the past means negotiating our moral and political relationships with each other, so we find ourselves taking up a language like apologize, forgive, reconcile, come together,” MacLachlan said.

There has been an accelerating trend around the world in the last three decades in which dozens, if not hundreds, of official apologies have been issued by various heads of government or churches, MacLachlan said. “An apology is still about maintaining control of a story,” she said. It offers a sense of closure or finality, at least in theory. The response to apologies among victims is usually mixed, she said, but it’s often much more positive with the public.

Republished courtesy of YFile– York University’s daily e-bulletin.