Security report on Justin Trudeau’s India trip finds serious ‘gaps’ in vetting process
A new report on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s infamous India visit has found stunning “gaps” in the vetting process around foreign events and the RCMP admitted they failed to inform Trudeau’s protective detail that Jaspal Atwal, a B.C. Sikh convicted of trying to assassinate an Indian minister, had been invited to two events with the prime minister.
The redacted report, released Monday by the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians revealed new details about how the RCMP “had information that suggested that Mr. Atwal was going with the Prime Minister on the official trip to India, but did not validate that information.”
“The RCMP had information that Mr. Atwal had a serious criminal record and a history of involvement in violent acts, issues which should have been identified as security risks to the Prime Minister and his delegation,” the report said. “The RCMP recognizes that it erred in not providing that information to the Prime Minister’s Protective Detail.”
The report also strongly criticized the RCMP over their risk assessments and protocols for sharing security information.
“The RCMP assertion that the Prime Minister’s Protective Detail would not have changed its security posture even if it had known of Mr. Atwal’s presence at the event and his history of violence was questionable, at best,” the report said. “The conclusion of officials from the security and intelligence community that Mr. Atwal was not a threat was based on a narrow interpretation of risk that did not reflect his known criminal record or [redacted].”
Trudeau was embarrassed during the trip when it was revealed that Atwal, the would-be assassin, was not only invited to events with the prime minister but was photographed with Sophie-Gregoire Trudeau and at least one cabinet minister during an event in Mumbai.
An invitation to a second event was rescinded after news broke of Atwal’s presence.
Trudeau’s national security adviser, Daniel Jean, suggested during a background briefing with media 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 cozy with the Canadian government, which they believe is sympathetic to extremist Sikh separatists.
The report also found that the RCMP officer in charge of security told the committee that the prime minister’s security could have identified the threat had it been given more information ahead of time.
“A name check even on Google would have identified and flagged this individual if the guest list would have been accessible to security,” the officer said.
The committee made a total of 18 findings and five recommendations, which included calls for greater co-ordination between agencies like the RCMP, the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service, and Global Affairs Canada.
“The government should develop and implement a consistent method of conducting background checks by all organizations involved in the development of proposed guest lists for foreign events with the Prime Minister,” the report said. “An interdepartmental review should be undertaken to identify key lessons learned following these events.”
NDP MP Nathan Cullen, the party’s critic for ethics and democratic reform, criticized the report noting that 10 out of the report’s 18 findings and three out of five recommendations were partially or completely redacted.
“The Prime Minister’s Office gets the last look and took out a big black pen. Real answers are under that black pen,” Cullen said in a twitter post.
Conservative leader Andrew Scheer also joined in criticizing the redactions accusing the Liberals of not being fully transparent.
“The security report on Justin Trudeau’s disastrous trip to Indian was ‘released’ today. Unfortunately the Trudeau Liberals got to it first and redacted most of the information. So much for transparency,” he wrote.
*With files from the Canadian Press
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