National security adviser blames coordinated misinformation for Atwal affair

OTTAWA — National security adviser Daniel Jean says it was important to brief the media about the prime ministers visit to India to dispel "co-ordinated misinformation" about the presence of a convicted attempted assassin at an event on the trouble-plagued trip.

Jean appeared Monday before the House of Commons public safety and national security committee to explain his role in the controversy, which has plagued Justin Trudeaus government for weeks.

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Jean has been at the centre of a political uproar over the trip after giving a background briefing to reporters in which he suggested factions in the Indian government were behind the embarrassing revelation that a convicted attempted assassin had been invited to two prime ministerial events.

“I think that if you have actors who are trying to fabricate a narrative that is totally untrue and are using three of our most respected public institutions to do that, I think that there has to be someone who is neutral who can come in and alert the media on that.”

Jaspal 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 ministers wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau.

National Security Advisor Jean says there was a coordinated effort to spread misinformation about the Jaspal Atwal affair after the story broke. Specifically discussing stories that RCMP was warned ahead of time about Atwal's past, but he was still allowed to attend #cdnpoli

His invitation to a second event was rescinded after news of his presence broke.

During the media briefing, Jean advanced the theory that rogue factions in India may have arranged for Atwals 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.

Jean said Monday the briefing was intended to dispel public suggestions that Canadian agencies could have acted sooner to ensure Atwal did not attend the first event.

"I provided information to counter the false allegations," Jean said.

Raising such a request in relation to an appearance by a civil servant, particularly one in as senior a role as Jean, would effectively serve to preemptively accuse either him or the government of trying to cover up the truth, which would up the stakes dramatically — not to mention carry the risk of a sizeable backlash against the MP and party who pushed for it, depending on what he says.

"We take the relationship with India very seriously. We remain vigilant to any potential threat."

PM Trudeaus national security adviser testifying on India trip

Daniel Jean, National Security and Intelligence Adviser to the Prime Minister, prepares to appear at a Commons national security committee on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, April 16, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tan

Daniel Jean, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s national security adviser, will testify at the House of Commons national security committee, where he’ll attempt to explain, or perhaps clarify, his role in a media briefing that claimed factions in the Indian government attempted to sabotage Trudeau’s state visit to India earlier this year. Maclean’s columnist Terry Glavin called the episode a “tangled web of conspiracy theories.”

A pedestrian walks by Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013. (Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Jean’s road to the committee required a parliamentary marathon of votes and weeks of pressure from the opposition in Ottawa. That the Liberals have sunk to second in the polls surely hasn’t helped. Watch Jean’s testimony live here at 12 p.m. ET.

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Justin Trudeau’s national security adviser will attempt to explain his role in a media briefing gone wrong during the PM’s trip to India. Watch it here.

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Jean has been at the centre of a political uproar over the trip after giving a background briefing to reporters in which he suggested factions in the Indian government were behind the embarrassing revelation that a convicted attempted assassin had been invited to two prime ministerial events.

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During the media briefing, Jean advanced the theory that rogue factions in India may have arranged for Atwals 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.

OTTAWA — National security adviser Daniel Jean says it was important to brief the media about the prime ministers visit to India to dispel “co-ordinated misinformation” about the presence of a convicted attempted assassin at an event on the trouble-plagued trip.

OTTAWA — National security adviser Daniel Jean says it was important to brief the media about the prime ministers visit to India to dispel "co-ordinated misinformation" about the presence of a convicted attempted assassin at an event on the trouble-plagued trip.

Jean appeared Monday before the House of Commons public safety and national security committee to explain his role in the controversy, which has plagued Justin Trudeaus government for weeks.

Daniel Jean, National Security and Intelligence Adviser to the Prime Minister, prepares to appear at a Commons national security committee on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, April 16, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tan

Jean has been at the centre of a political uproar over the trip after giving a background briefing to reporters in which he suggested factions in the Indian government were behind the embarrassing revelation that a convicted attempted assassin had been invited to two prime ministerial events.

Jaspal 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 ministers wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau.

His invitation to a second event was rescinded after news of his presence broke.

During the media briefing, Jean advanced the theory that rogue factions in India may have arranged for Atwals 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.

Jean said Monday the briefing was intended to dispel public suggestions that Canadian agencies could have acted sooner to ensure Atwal did not attend the first event.

“We take the relationship with India very seriously. We remain vigilant to any potential threat.”

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