Canadian Opposition Plans 40-Hour Voting to Call Attention to Atwal Incident
Canadian Conservative leaders plan to force all-night voting in protest over government’s refusal to let the national security adviser testify about his comments over invitation to Jaspal Atwal during Justin Trudeau’s India trip.
In a bid to put pressure on the Canadian government over its flip-flop statements over its invitation to convicted pro-Khalistan activist Jaspal Atwal during Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s India visit in February, the Opposition forced MPs to stay in House of Commons all night, voting on more than 250 motions on March 22, the Canadian media reported.
The call for budget voting was in retaliation to Liberal Party MPs voting down a motion that would direct Trudeau’s national security adviser Daniel Jean to testify before the House of Commons’ National Security Committee about his allegation in a press briefing that Atwal was placed by “rogue elements” of Indian establishment to embarrass the Canadian prime minister.
The Opposition, which believes that the disruption that will cost the House an overtime bill is warranted, said that they need the “same rights” as journalists.
“We are going to show that Parliament is going to sit until they do the right thing,” Conservative foreign affairs critic Erin O’Toole was quoted as saying by CBC.
We are making the Liberals work late because they refuse to be transparent about Justin Trudeau’s conspiracy theory about India. This has hurt our relationship with India and impacting our Canadian farmers and agriculture sector. https://t.co/0noF7RicBp
— John Barlow (@JohnBarlowMP) March 22, 2018
Today we are debating the India-Atwal scandal and the Prime Minister’s attempt to obstruct Parliament from questioning his advisor whom he allowed to speak to the media but not MPs. pic.twitter.com/4duBHZ6VaT
— Erin O’Toole (@ErinOTooleMP) March 22, 2018
The Prime Minister has failed to be honest with Canadians about the Atwal affair and the only other person who knows the truth is the Prime Minister’s National Security Advisor.
As a result, the House will debate… https://t.co/MZHS83DEUn
— Randy Hoback (@MPRandyHoback) March 22, 2018
Opposition leader Andrew Scheer took to Facebook to accuse the Liberals of keeping the public in dark about the circumstances that led to the invitation forwarded to Atwal to an official Canadian government event in India:
Atwal was invited to an official dinner reception hosted for Justin Trudeau by Canada’s envoy to New Delhi on Feb. 22. The invitation was revoked when Atwal’s background came to light. He was convicted in 1987 for attempted assassination of a visiting minister from Punjab the year before.
At first, Atwal’s presence was attributed to British Columbia MP Randeep Sarai’s “honest mistake.” The MP had accepted responsibility, telling reporters that Atwal had asked to be placed on the Canadian High Commission’s guest list and he passed it along.
Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland had called the invitation an “honest mistake” in an interview with CTV Network days after the incident. Freeland’s statement was seized by the Opposition in the motion they placed before the House of Commons.
While the Indian government strongly rejected the “rogue elements” theory, Trudeau made the matters complicated by getting behind the “rogue elements” theory put forward by Jean. He reiterated the stance, saying that Jean is a “a professional, non-partisan, veteran public servant who only says what he knows to be true.”
Jean had said in the press briefing that Atwal’s presence was arranged by factions within the Indian government who want to prevent Prime Minister Narendra Modi from getting too cozy with a foreign government they believe is not committed to a united India, CBC reported.
“Both of these scenarios can’t be true and the fact they brought up the India conspiracy theory also is a blight on a good relationship with an important country,” O’Toole said, the report added.
The motion placed before the House says: “That, given the Prime Minister has supported a claim that the invitation issued to a convicted attempted murderer was the work of a foreign government attempting to interfere in Canadian foreign relations, while others in the government, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs, claimed that the invitation was an ‘honest mistake’ on the part of the Canadian government, the House call upon the Prime Minister to instruct his National Security Advisor, Daniel Jean, to appear before the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security to provide the Committee the same briefing he gave to journalists on February 23, 2018, and that the briefing take place in public and no later than March 30, 2018.”
Liberal Party MPs, who believe that testimony by Jean must take place behind closed doors, blocked twice the Opposition’s attempt. In response, the Conservatives tried to get 250 or so budget votes to “draw attention to the government’s lack of transparency on this matter.”