Canadian Govt Agrees to Brief Opposition Over PM Trudeau’s India Visit
After heated debate, Liberal Party-led Canadian government accepts Opposition's demand to let its national security adviser testify before the House of Commons committee.
The controversy over convicted Khalistan sympathizer Jaspal Atwal’s appearance at a Canadian government event during Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to the country refuses to die down. After a 21-hour marathon voting forced by the Conservative Opposition last month, and a week of heated debate between Trudeau and Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, the Liberal Party-led Canadian government relented to their demands over the issue on April 3, the Canadian media reported.
The government has offered to give an unclassified briefing by Trudeau’s National Security Adviser Daniel Jean to the MPs on Commons Committee, and a more in-depth classified briefing to Conservative leader Andrew Scheer. The offer was accepted by Scheer with a condition — he wanted journalists and Conservative MPs to be able to sit in on the non-secret portions of Jean’s briefing.
The government has accepted the condition after weeks of refusing to cave in to their demand of having Jean talk about Trudeau’s India trip in February this year before the House of Commons’ National Security Committee.
A letter has been sent to Scheer “indicating that we will work with his office to coordinate the classified briefing for him on matters related to the national security of Canada as soon as possible,” according to Privy Council Office spokesman Paul Duchesne.
Jean wrote to the chair of the public safety and national security committee “to offer an unclassified briefing at the earliest practical opportunity should that be the wish of the standing committee,” Duschesne added.
Last month, the Conservatives had tried to force Jean to appear before the committee to testify over his allegations that rogue factions in the Indian establishment tried to sabotage Trudeau’s trip by planting Atwal’s presence. After their attempts were blocked, they began a protest by starting a 40-hour marathon voting session over 250 budget bills. The marathon voting was called off after 21 hours after MPs cited exhaustion. The Conservatives said even with 21-hour voting, “the point was made” and that they are not going to stop raising the issue.
Jean, in a background briefing to reporters travelling with Trudeau, had said that rogue forces within the Indian government were responsible for the Atwal controversy. He said that Atwal was closely connected with members of the Indian consulate in Vancouver, and observed that it was strange that the ban on Atwal’s travel to India was lifted by Indian authorities after more than three decades. The Indian government dismissed these claims.
Trudeau backed his national security adviser, although some within the Liberal Party called the invitation to Atwal an “honest mistake.” British Columbia MP Randeep Sarai had accepted responsibility, telling reporters that Atwal had asked to be placed on the Canadian High Commission’s guest list and that he passed it along.
Atwal was convicted in 1987 of an attempted assassination of Indian minister Malkiat Singh Sidhu during a visit to Vancouver Island in 1986.