Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s trip to India was a “colossal failure of diplomacy and leadership skills,” says the senior assistant editor at the Times of India, in New Delhi, Aarti Tikoo Singh.
The Trudeau family was blasted by media both in India and Canada, for overdoing it on their traditional Indian outfits…
Trudeau was forced to defend himself multiple times on a trouble-laden trip to India, where the Canadian made a fool of himself on more than one occasion.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he will sit down with Liberal MP Randeep Sarai sometime next week to discuss his invitation of a known would-be assassin to two receptions in India.
The Conservative party is pushing for further action, calling for an emergency meeting of the public safety and national security committee to review the Privy Council Office’s screening practices.
Jaspal Atwal, a former member of an illegal Sikh separatist group who was convicted of attempted murder, attended at least one event tied to the Trudeau visit where he was pictured with Sophie Trudeau and Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Amarjeet Sohi.
He also was invited to dine with the prime minister at a formal event hosted by the Canadian High Commissioner Thursday in Delhi, but that invitation was later rescinded.
“This is a situation that obviously is unacceptable and we will follow up on it … This individual should never have been invited,” Trudeau told reporters Friday.
Sarai, a Surrey Centre MP, sent out a statement earlier this week taking the blame.
“Let me be clear — this person should never have been invited in the first place,” the statement said.
“I alone facilitated his request to attend this important event. I should have exercised better judgment, and I take full responsibility for my actions.”
Trudeau travelled with 14 MPs, but Sarai has drastically lowered his profile since the news broke Wednesday.
The Atwal incident has dominated international headlines on Trudeau’s trade trip.
The prime minister also has had to defend his decision to don traditional Indian clothing and has faced criticism for bringing his entire family on the trip.
Rogue political elements
Questions about how Atwal was able to travel to India continue to fester. He was not part of the official Canadian delegation.
A senior government official with knowledge of the prime minister’s security protocols suggested to reporters that rogue political elements in India may have orchestrated Atwal’s embarrassing invitation in an attempt to make the Canadian government appear sympathetic to Sikh extremism.
Publicly, Trudeau spoke highly of the Indian government and highlighted his Friday meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“The relationship between the Canadian government and the Indian government is very strong. We had an excellent meeting today,” he said.
“Canada’s Conservatives have serious questions with respect to how Mr. Atwal, a member of a terrorist organization banned in Canada, was given clearance to attend an event with the prime minister,” said public safety critic Pierre Paul-Hus.
“Canadians expect that when the prime minister meets with individuals, whether at home or abroad, there is a process to ensure the proper vetting of individuals to ensure that they do not pose a safety or security risk.”
An official spokesperson for the Indian government had no explanation for how Atwal managed to get his name removed from the list of people banned from travelling to the country, or any information to offer on the documents he used to get into India.
“It is something which I cannot say immediately how that happened,” said Shri Raveesh Kumar. “There are different ways of people coming into India.”
A senior government official told CBC News that not all guests attending events with the prime minister are vetted for potential security risks because the large number of people attending such events, and the constantly changing list of attendees, make that task difficult.
Atwal was a member of the International Sikh Youth Federation, which was banned as a terrorist group in Canada, the U.K., the U.S. and India. He was convicted of the attempted murder of an Indian cabinet minister, Malkiat Singh Sidhu, on Vancouver Island in 1986.
He’s also been convicted in an automobile fraud case and was charged, but not convicted, in a 1985 near-fatal attack on Ujjal Dosanjh, an opponent of the Sikh separatist movement who later became premier of British Columbia.