Se­cu­rity ad­viser tried to dis­pel mis­in­for­ma­tion

Kingston Whig-Standard - - NATIONAL - JOAN BRYDEN and JIM BRONSKILL

OT­TAWA — Justin Trudeau’s na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser says it’s the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment’s fault that a con­victed at­tempted as­sas­sin was in­vited to events with the prime min­is­ter dur­ing his trou­ble­plagued trip to In­dia.

But Daniel Jean pointed Mon­day to a “co-or­di­nated mis­in­for­ma­tion” cam­paign about the gaffe to jus­tify his con­tro­ver­sial as­ser­tion that fac­tions in In­dia tried to sab­o­tage Trudeau’s Fe­bru­ary visit.

Jean was tes­ti­fy­ing be­fore the House of Com­mons pub­lic safety and na­tional se­cu­rity com­mit­tee about a back­ground brief­ing he gave re­porters dur­ing the trip, in which he sug­gested rogue el­e­ments in In­dia were be­hind the em­bar­rass­ing rev­e­la­tion that Jas­pal At­wal had been in­vited to two events with Trudeau. At­wal, a B.C. Sikh con­victed of at­tempt­ing to as­sas­si­nate an In­dian min­is­ter in 1986 dur­ing a visit to Bri­tish Columbia, was pho­tographed at one event in Mum­bai with the prime min­is­ter’s wife, So­phie Gre­goire Trudeau. His in­vi­ta­tion to a sec­ond event was re­scinded af­ter news of his pres­ence broke.

Dur­ing the me­dia brief­ing, Jean ad­vanced the the­ory that rogue fac­tions in In­dia may have ar­ranged for At­wal’s at­ten­dance in a bid to pre­vent Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi from be­com­ing too cosy with a for­eign gov­ern­ment they be­lieve is sym­pa­thetic to ex­trem­ist Sikh sep­a­ratists. On Mon­day, Jean ac­knowl­edged there would not have been a scan­dal had Lib­eral MP Ran­deep Sarai not asked for At­wal to be added to the guest list or if the names on that list had been vet­ted by the Prime Min­is­ter’s Of­fice.

“It was a faux pas. It should not have hap­pened,” he told the com­mit­tee. But he added: “There were peo­ple who were try­ing ... to make that faux pas a lot big­ger by fab­ri­cat­ing false sto­ries and my in­ter­ven­tion was to de­bunk that.”

Once news of At­wal’s pres­ence sur­faced, Jean said there ap­peared to be a co-or­di­nated cam­paign to ped­dle false sto­ries that At­wal was a mem­ber of the Cana­dian del­e­ga­tion and that the RCMP, the Cana­dian Se­cu­rity In­tel­li­gence Ser­vice and the Cana­dian High Com­mis­sion in In­dia had all been alerted to his pres­ence on the guest list days ear­lier but had done noth­ing. He cited in­cor­rect re­ports by both In­dian and Cana­dian me­dia. It was those false re­ports, he said, that prompted his de­ci­sion to brief re­porters.

JUSTIN TAN/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Daniel Jean

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