Canada: Oppn motion for NSA’s public testimony defeated in Parliament
The opposition had demanded the appearance of Daniel Jean before the standing committee on public safety and national security over the invitation extended to Jaspal Atwal to an official dinner reception in New Delhi.world Updated: Mar 23, 2018 23:32 IST
Canada’s ruling Liberal Party defeated a motion moved by the opposition in the House of Commons on Thursday, seeking the public testimony of national security adviser Daniel Jean on the allegation that “rogue elements” in the Indian establishment planted a convicted Khalistani terrorist to embarrass Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during his recent trip to India.
The opposition united in demanding the appearance of Jean before the standing committee on public safety and national security to brief members in public over the invitation extended to Jaspal Atwal to an official dinner reception hosted in New Delhi for Trudeau.
The motion was moved by Conservative MP Pierre Paul-Hus and garnered support from MPs belonging to the New Democratic Party, Bloc Quebecois and the sole Green Party member of Parliament.
Trudeau was away travelling in the province of New Brunswick, and 161 Liberal MPs opposed the motion. Only 111 favoured it.
Atwal, who has said he once supported Khalistan, was convicted and incarcerated in 1987 for an attempt to murder a visiting minister from Punjab.
The Liberal Party fielded Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness , to respond to Opposition attacks during the debate that preceded the vote. And as with foreign minister Chrystia Freeland, he also termed the invitation to Atwal a “mistake.”
He said: “The MP for Surrey Centre has taken responsibility for putting that name forward and when that mistake was discovered the invitation was immediately rescinded.” He was referring to Liberal Party MP Randeep Sarai, who had facilitated the invitation to Atwal.
As the vote ended, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Scheer accused Trudeau of “failing to be honest with Canadians about his Indian conspiracy theory, and the Liberals just voted down our motion to get more answers.”
In a Facebook post, he wrote: “When a convicted attempted murderer appears at an official Government of Canada event, that is serious.When the Prime Minister then blames a foreign government for his mistake, that is even worse.
“Canadians deserve to know the truth about what happened during the Atwal Affair. Justin Trudeau is trying to hide the one person who can set the record straight.”
Jake Enright, spokesperson for Scheer, told Hindustan Times: “The reason we want to hear the national security adviser is that four different entities and individuals have put forward information contrary to Trudeau’s assertion.”
He was referring to the Trudeau’s validation of the “rogue elements” theory in the House of Commons earlier in March. Enright pointed to the statements from the Indian government, which has strongly denied the accusation, from Freeland, Sarai and Atwal himself, as the “contradictory” versions to what Trudeau has claimed, based on his NSA’s briefing to the media. While that briefing was done anonymously, Canadian media later reported the official who made the charge was, in fact, the country’s NSA.
Enright said the coming together of all opposition parties on the motion evidenced there was “clearly overwhelming support” for it. But with the Liberals holding a comfortable majority, there wasn’t enough for the Opposition to compel Jean to clarify his controversial claim.