A high-level national security committee has delivered a special report to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about his controversial India trip, making six recommendations stemming from allegations of foreign interference, security risks and inappropriate use of intelligence.
The specifics of the classified report from the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, however, won’t necessarily be made public. For national security reasons, the Prime Minister is legally entitled to request a revised version of the report and has up to 30 sitting days to release it in both the House of Commons and the Senate – meaning it could be delayed until the fall.
“The Prime Minister has received the report. He will take the time to review and will respond accordingly,” said Matt Pascuzzo, a spokesman for the Prime Minister’s Office.
The report also includes 18 findings about Mr. Trudeau’s ill-fated visit to India last February.
The trip was dogged by security concerns after it was revealed that Jaspal Atwal, a B.C. Sikh convicted of trying to assassinate an Indian minister on Vancouver Island in 1986, had been invited to two events with Mr. Trudeau, and was seen posing in pictures with the Prime Minister’s wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, and cabinet ministers at an event in Mumbai. An invitation to a second event was rescinded after news broke of Mr. Atwal’s presence.
Liberal MP Randeep Sarai initially took responsibility for inviting Mr. Atwal to the events. But Mr. Trudeau’s national security adviser, Daniel Jean, then suggested during a background briefing that rogue factions within the Indian government may have sabotaged the Prime Minister’s trip in a bid to prevent Prime Minister Narendra Modi from becoming too cozy with a foreign government they believe is sympathetic to extremist Sikh separatists.
The two different accounts led Conservative MPs to press the government to explain who was responsible for Mr. Atwal’s presence during the Prime Minister’s trip, which was heavily criticized for everything from his elaborate outfits to the lack of substantial announcements.
Mr. Jean later told a parliamentary committee that it was his idea to brief reporters to counter what he called a co-ordinated misinformation campaign against three Canadian public institutions – the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the RCMP and the Canadian High Commission in Delhi.
“I never raised a conspiracy theory,” Mr. Jean told the House of Commons’ public safety and national security committee in April.
“What I said is that there was co-ordinated efforts to try to misinform, and I said that these were either private people – it was definitely not the Government of India – and if it was people from India, they were acting in a rogue way.”
Yet, later in his testimony he said suggested people from the government who “are not blessed” may have been responsible.
The new national security committee, comprising seven MPs and three senators with the highest level of security clearance, heard testimony from witnesses in April and May. All of the meetings were held in private.
In a statement in April announcing the undertaking, the committee, which has access to classified materials, said the issues could have important implications for Canada’s national security and sovereignty.
“All Committee members were in agreement that the key issues fell within our mandate, merited independent and non-partisan review, and could only be properly examined with access to classified information,” Liberal MP David McGuinty, the committee chair, said in a news release on Thursday.
Mr. McGuinty said officials met all requests for information within the deadlines and complied with all follow-up requests.
The special report is the first for the committee, which was established by the Trudeau government in June, 2017. The committee members, who were appointed in November, are bound by the Security of Information Act.
In addition to special reports, the committee is required to submit a classified annual report detailing its national security reviews to the Prime Minister and an unclassified version must be tabled in both houses of Parliament.