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Jaspal Atwal.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau skipped Question Period on Monday as the opposition demanded proof that India was behind the presence of a convicted would-be assassin during his trip to the country last week.

The Conservatives wanted to know whether the Prime Minister believes the "conspiracy theory" suggested by his national-security adviser that India's intelligence service tried to embarrass Canada by giving a visa to Sikh extremist Jaspal Atwal so he could attend receptions with Mr. Trudeau.

"This is a very serious allegation," Tory House Leader Candice Bergen said. "What proof does the Prime Minister have that the government of India did this?"

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale shut down allegations of a conspiracy theory, saying they are "absolutely and utterly false."

"All Canadians can be assured that our police and our security agencies have done their job in relation to this visit," Mr. Goodale said.

Mr. Atwal was invited to a dinner reception at the Canadian High Commissioner's residence in Delhi with the Prime Minister last Thursday after being photographed with the Mr. Trudeau's wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, and Liberal Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi at another event earlier in the week. Mr. Atwal was a member of the International Sikh Youth Federation, which is deemed a terrorist group in Canada and India, when he was convicted of the attempted murder of Indian cabinet minister Malkiat Singh Sidhu in 1986.

Repeating Mr. Trudeau's statements to date, Mr. Goodale said Mr. Atwal should have never been invited to the receptions and that his invitation was rescinded.

But as the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) continues to distance itself from Mr. Atwal, he is telling a different story. In an interview with the Canadian Press Saturday, Mr. Atwal described his friendly relationship with Mr. Trudeau.

"We know each other. He knows my name, he'll come and say, 'Hey Jas, how you doing?' We have a good relationship. I never see any problem," he said. "But now he says, 'Oh, Jaspal's not supposed to be here, this and that.' It surprised me."

Mr. Atwal claims he has known the Prime Minister for years, saying the pair sat together in his Hummer and chatted during one of Mr. Trudeau's visits to B.C. in 2008 or 2009.

The PMO said there is no merit to the assertions by Mr. Atwal, especially the claim that he and Mr. Trudeau were friends.

Mr. Trudeau said last week that Liberal MP Randeep Sarai – one of 14 MPs on the trip to India – invited Mr. Atwal to the dinner reception. He said he would be speaking with Mr. Sarai upon his return to Canada, but the PMO said on Monday that meeting had not happened yet. The PMO said Mr. Sarai is still a member of the Liberal caucus.

After initially pointing the finger at Mr. Sarai, the Canadian government later spread the blame to "factions in India" it says may have orchestrated the Atwal matter.

Speaking to The Globe and Mail on condition of anonymity last week, a senior government source said the Indian factions in question are concerned about the threat of Sikh extremism, especially among the Sikh diaspora in Canada, and believe that the Canadian government is too complacent on the matter. The source did not say whether said factions were linked to the Indian government.

The source also said Mr. Atwal was recently removed from a blacklist of people banned from India. Mr. Atwal said any suggestion that the Indian government helped him get off the blacklist or into the reception is a "total lie."

Phil Gurski, a former Canadian Security Intelligence Service strategic analyst, said the Canadian government's theory that India was behind the Atwal controversy is hard to believe.

"Really? Now we're into conspiracy theories?" Mr. Gurski said.

"I think they just made a mistake. Somebody dropped the ball. Somebody didn't do the proper vetting."

Justin Trudeau is pledging a ‘conversation’ with Liberal MP Randeep Sarai. Sarai is claiming responsibility for inviting convicted failed assassin Jaspal Atwal to two high-profile receptions during the prime minister’s India trip.

The Canadian Press

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