OTTAWA — The national security and intelligence committee of parliamentarians has delivered a special report to Justin Trudeau on the prime minister’s ill-fated trip to India.
But the public can’t read it quite yet, and may never see the whole thing.
The newly created committee says the classified report includes 18 findings and six recommendations based on its review of allegations of foreign interference in Canadians’ political affairs, risks to the prime minister’s security and inappropriate use of intelligence.
It’s up to Trudeau to determine how much, if any, of the report can be divulged publicly without damaging national security, international relations or solicitor-client information.
An unclassified version of the report is to be tabled eventually in both the House of Commons and the Senate.
The committee’s investigation — its first since it was created by the Trudeau government — was prompted by the controversy that engulfed Trudeau’s trip to India in February after it was revealed that Jaspal Atwal, a convicted attempted murderer, had been invited to two events with the prime minister.
Atwal, a B.C. Sikh convicted of attempting to assassinate an Indian minister in 1986 during a visit to British Columbia, was photographed at one event in Mumbai with the prime minister’s wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau. His invitation to a second event was rescinded after news of his presence broke.
In a background briefing with reporters on the trip, Trudeau’s national security adviser, Daniel Jean, advanced the theory that rogue factions in India may have arranged for Atwal’s attendance in a bid to prevent Prime Minister Narendra Modi from becoming too cosy with a foreign government they believe is sympathetic to extremist Sikh separatists.
In testimony at a Commons committee in April, Jean acknowledged that the Canadian government was to blame for the invitations to Atwal. But he said it was a subsequent co-ordinated disinformation campaign that prompted him to assert that factions in India were trying to sabotage Trudeau’s trip — a theory denied by the Indian government.
He pointed to false stories by both Canadian and Indian media suggesting that Atwal was a member of the Canadian delegation and that the RCMP, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Canadian High Commission in India had all been alerted to his presence on the guest list days earlier but had done nothing.
Jean, who has since retired, adamantly rejected Conservative charges that he concocted the conspiracy theory as an exercise in damage control, meant to deflect attention from Trudeau’s disastrous trip.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale had encouraged opposition parties to use the newly created national security and intelligence committee of parliamentarians to review the matter, arguing that it was the only way they could get the full story, complete with classified information that Jean would not be able to impart in a public committee hearing.
The 10-member committee was specifically created by the Trudeau government to allow MPs to probe classified matters. It consists of seven MPs, five of whom are Liberals, and three senators. The Conservatives, New Democrats and independent factions in the Senate are all represented.
Members must obtain security clearance and swear an oath that they will maintain for the rest of their lives the confidentiality of the information they receive.
Committee chair David McGuinty, a Liberal MP, said all committee members agreed that the key issues surrounding the trouble-plagued India trip “fell within our mandate, merited independent and non-partisan review and could only properly be examined with access to classified information.”
The Canadian Press