Jaspal Atwal affair set to heat up as Daniel Jean appears at committee over India trip
The House of Commons returns after a two-week break on Monday and all eyes will be on the man in the hot seat as Daniel Jean prepares to testify before committee on what has become known as the Jaspal Atwal affair.
For weeks, Conservatives have called for Jean, the national security adviser to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to appear before a committee to answer questions about why they say he told reporters in a background briefing that factions of the Indian government may have had an interest in derailing the prime minister’s February trip to India.
A senior source, whom Global News agreed during the briefing not to identify, raised a number of concerns following news that Atwal, a former Sikh extremist who was convicted in the 1980s for trying to assassinate an Indian politician, had attended a reception where he took photos of himself with senior Liberal cabinet members as well as Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau.
Atwal had also been invited to attend a reception at the residence of the Canadian High Commissioner meant to celebrate the end of the official visit.
That invite was yanked back after media reported it had been issued to the convicted attempted assassin.
WATCH BELOW: It’s not up to Jaspal Atwal to vet himself: lawyer
While Liberal MP Randeep Sarai took the blame for inviting Atwal to the reception, the source said there were outstanding questions over why Atwal was allowed back into India, given that he had for years been on a travel blacklist maintained by the Indian government.
Atwal, the source suggested, had held meetings with Indian government officials in Vancouver prior to being removed from the travel blacklist, and hinted there may be factions in India that wanted to make the Trudeau government look soft on Sikh extremism.
The issue is one that dogged Trudeau throughout the trip as well as prior to it.
The Indian High Commissioner vehemently denied the suggestion and the Conservatives went on the attack, arguing the fracas had damaged relations with India and calling on the government to explain its evidence.
The Conservatives also declared before the House of Commons that they believed the source to be Jean.
They also forced a 20-hour filibuster on budgetary votes after a motion they had put before the House of Commons asking for Jean to appear before a committee was defeated.
On April 4, Jean agreed to give the committee an unclassified briefing on the trip to the committee and is scheduled to appear for one hour at noon on Monday.
It is expected Jean will face a barrage of questions from opposition members on that committee that aim to uncover exactly what information the government might have to suggest Indian factions wanted to scuttle the trip.
He will likely also be asked about what evidence exists surrounding the removal of Atwal from the Indian government travel blacklist as well as why no one vetted the former extremist before he was granted an invitation.
A second, classified briefing on the matter has been offered to Conservative Leader and Privy Council member Andrew Scheer, which he has accepted.
No formal date has been set for that briefing.
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