Politics

National security oversight committee to probe events surrounding Trudeau's India trip

The federal government’s national security oversight committee has agreed to conduct a special review of the incidents surrounding Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s trip to India.

Committee to probe alleged foreign political interference, security risks to PM and misuse of intelligence

Sophie Trudeau and Jaspal Atwal pictured at a film industry influencers event with Indian film stars in Mumbai Feb. 20. The national security oversight committee will probe how Atwal managed to get so close to the prime minister and what foreign influences may or may not have been involved. (Name withheld by request)

The federal government's national security oversight committee has agreed to conduct a special review of the incidents surrounding Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's trip to India.

Conservative senators introduced a motion calling on Trudeau's national security adviser, Daniel Jean, to appear before the Senate defence and security committee to answer questions about the trip.

That motion was amended in late March to instead ask the oversight committee to review the matter behind closed doors. The committee considered the request and decided it was appropriate.

"The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP) is conducting a special review of the allegations that have been raised in the context of the prime minister's trip to India," a statement from the committee said Monday.

"Specifically those [allegations] relating to foreign interference in Canadian political affairs, risks to the security of the prime minister, and inappropriate use of intelligence."

The committee will provide a classified report on its findings to the prime minister in late May. An unclassified version of the report will be tabled in both the House of Commons and the Senate.

The Liberal government has been fending off a series of attacks on its credibility since the prime minister travelled to India in February.

While on that trip, CBC News reported that Jaspal Atwal, a Canadian convicted of attempted murder for trying to assassinate Indian cabinet minister Malkiat Singh Sidhu on Vancouver Island in 1986, had been invited to a formal event hosted by the Canadian High Commissioner Thursday in Delhi.

Atwal had also appeared at an Indian film industry event in Mumbai, where he was photographed with Liberal cabinet minister Amarjeet Sohi and Trudeau's wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau.

Weathering the storm

As the story of the security lapse began to consume the news cycle, Jean offered journalists in the Parliamentary Press Gallery an off-the-record briefing about how the security lapse was allowed to occur, and whether political elements in India may have been involved.

Since the media coverage of that briefing first emerged, the Conservatives have pressured the government to have Jean provide the same briefing to MPs.

Conservative MPs carried out some procedural trickery two weeks ago — including a marathon voting session on a series of motions in the House that lasted the better part of 24 hours — to protest efforts by the Liberal government to kill a motion that would have demanded Jean appear before the committee to answer questions about the Atwal invite.

Trudeau offered instead to have Jean give Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer a classified briefing. Scheer agreed, on the condition that Jean gives the House of Commons national security and defence committee an unclassified version of the briefing first.

Jean has agreed to the appearance and could testify before the committee, which is scheduled to take place on Monday, April 16 at 12:00 p.m.

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