OTTAWA — In a long-awaited public appearance, Canada’s national security adviser claimed Monday that there was a “coordinated effort” to spread misinformation about the invitation of a convicted attempted murderer to an official event during the prime minister’s trip to India in February — an invitation that threw the trip into turmoil and that continues to make headlines in both countries.
But Daniel Jean, who appeared before the House of Commons national security committee on Monday, insists he never said the Indian government was responsible for the misinformation, or for any kind of conspiracy.
“I went out of my way to say this isn’t the government of India,” he told the committee. Jean said either individuals or “rogue elements” within the government, who were not sanctioned by the government, gave misleading information to journalists that aimed to discredit Canadian institutions, including CSIS, the RCMP, and the Canadian High Commission in Delhi.
Jean told the committee that he alone made the decision to give journalists a background briefing in February, after it emerged that Jaspal Atwal, convicted in 1986 of the attempted murder of an Indian cabinet minister on Vancouver Island, had been invited to an official reception in New Delhi attended by the prime minister. He refuted a previous suggestion by Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer that he had been sent out as a “human shield” for damage control.
“I believed firmly that there was too much misinformation that had been provided to the media and that we needed to provide accurate information to Canadians,” he said. “We needed to make sure that these three institutions were not tainted.”
Jean said journalists were being given false information suggesting that CSIS and the RCMP knew about Atwal’s invitation days ahead of time, and that Atwal was an official member of the prime minister’s delegation. “I think Canadians have the right to know when people are trying to create a false narrative using three respected public institutions,” he said. “All of these allegations are false.”
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Jean said CSIS first received information about Atwal’s invitation to the reception on Feb. 21, shortly before CBC published a story revealing the invitation and photos of Atwal at another event in …read more