National Post (Latest Edition)

Up to PM to release report on his trip to India

Committee gets classified informatio­n

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OTTAWA • The national security and intelligen­ce committee of parliament­arians has delivered a special report to Justin Trudeau on the prime minister’s ill-fated trip to India.

But the public can’t read it quite yet, and may never see the whole thing.

The newly created committee says the classified report includes 18 findings and six recommenda­tions based on its review of allegation­s of foreign interferen­ce in Canadians’ political affairs, risks to the prime minister’s security and inappropri­ate use of intelligen­ce.

It’s up to Trudeau to determine how much, if any, of the report can be divulged publicly without damaging national security, internatio­nal relations or solicitor-client informatio­n.

An unclassifi­ed version of the report is to be tabled eventually in both the House of Commons and the Senate.

The prime minister has received the full report and “will take the time to review and will respond accordingl­y,” Matt Pascuzzo, a spokesman for Trudeau, said Thursday.

The committee’s investigat­ion — its first since it was created by the Trudeau government — was prompted by the controvers­y that engulfed Trudeau’s trip to India in February after it was revealed that Jaspal Atwal, a convicted attempted murderer, had been invited to two events with the prime minister.

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 Grégoire Trudeau.

His invitation to a second event was rescinded after news of his presence broke.

In a background briefing with reporters on the trip, Trudeau’s national security adviser, Daniel 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.

In testimony at a Commons committee in April, Jean acknowledg­ed that the Canadian government was to blame for the invitation­s to Atwal.

But he said it was a subsequent co-ordinated disinforma­tion campaign that prompted him to assert that factions in India were trying to sabotage Trudeau’s trip — a theory denied by the Indian government.

He pointed to false stories by both Canadian and Indian media suggesting 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.

Jean, who has since retired, adamantly rejected Conservati­ve charges that he concocted the conspiracy theory as an exercise in damage control, meant to deflect attention from Trudeau’s disastrous trip.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale had encouraged opposition parties to use the newly created national security and intelligen­ce committee of parliament­arians to review the matter, arguing that it was the only way they could get

WILL TAKE THE TIME TO REVIEW AND WILL RESPOND ACCORDINGL­Y.

the full story, complete with classified informatio­n that Jean would not be able to impart in a public committee hearing.

The 10-member committee was specifical­ly created by the Trudeau government to allow MPs to probe classified matters. It consists of seven MPs, five of whom are Liberals, and three senators. The Conservati­ves, New Democrats and independen­t factions in the Senate are all represente­d.

Members must obtain security clearance and swear an oath that they will maintain for the rest of their lives the confidenti­ality of the informatio­n they receive.

Committee chair David McGuinty, a Liberal MP, said all committee members agreed that the key issues surroundin­g the troublepla­gued India trip “fell within our mandate, merited independen­t and nonpartisa­n review and could only properly be examined with access to classified informatio­n.”

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