RCMP should have alerted PM’s protective detail about Jaspal Atwal: Review
By The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — The RCMP should have alerted Justin Trudeau's protective detail that Jaspal Atwal — a man with a serious criminal record and a history of violence — might turn up during the prime minister's February trip to India, says a review of the turbulent visit.
By The Canadian Press
The newly released report from the national-security committee of parliamentarians says the RCMP “recognizes that it erred” in not passing along the information about Atwal, who had been convicted of attempted murder years earlier.
The heavily censored report, tabled Monday in Parliament, says government agencies do not have a comprehensive system for vetting guest lists for foreign events involving the prime minister and have not conducted a “lessons learned” exercise to identify areas for improvement.
Trudeau was embarrassed during the overseas trip when it was revealed that Atwal, a B.C. Sikh convicted of trying to assassinate an Indian minister in 1986, had been invited to two events with the prime minister.
Atwal was photographed with Trudeau’s wife and at least one cabinet minister during a Feb. 20 event in Mumbai, and an invitation to a second event, in New Delhi, was rescinded after news broke of Atwal’s presence.
The committee report says the Mounties had information on Feb. 13 about Atwal’s possible presence in India during Trudeau’s visit.
“That information caused RCMP personnel to search criminal databases, revealing information that should have triggered the notification of the Prime Minister’s Protective Detail and the briefing of senior officials: neither the Protective Detail nor officials were notified,” the report says.
Trudeau’s national-security adviser, Daniel Jean, suggested during a background briefing in February that factions in the Indian government had sabotaged Trudeau’s trip.
Jean advanced the theory that rogue factions in the Indian government arranged for Atwal’s presence in a bid to prevent Prime Minister Narendra Modi from becoming too cosy with Canada’s government, one they believe is sympathetic to extremist Sikh separatists.
The security committee, which includes members of the House of Commons and the Senate, announced in April that it would study various questions about the trip, including allegations concerning risks to the prime minister’s security, foreign interference in Canadian politics and inappropriate use of intelligence.
The Liberal government passed legislation last year to create the new committee as a forum where politicians with the highest level of security clearance can hear secret testimony.
— Jim Bronskill
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