Mr. Speaker, it has been some time since I rose in adjournment proceedings in the House, but it is perhaps appropriate that I rise today for the late show dealing with Canada-India relations, because that really has seized this chamber for the last month following the Prime Minister's, one might now say, ill-fated tour to India, because the consequences have been deep for the Canada-India relationship. The consequences to the Prime Minister's and government's reputation have also been deeply scarred. Specifically, it is because of what we are now saying are the cover-up and conspiracy theories related to the Atwal India affair, and in the time I have, I will briefly remind Canadians what that is.
In a trip that was already being labelled as a “slow-moving train wreck” by the international press because of the Prime Minister's constant focus on photo ops where he wore attire that was more suitable to formal Indian weddings, he was being mocked for not taking seriously the trip and had a very light agenda on his trip. The trip went from bad to very bad when a former attempted assassin, someone who had been convicted of the attempted murder of an Indian politician on Canadian soil, showed up at high-profile events hosted by Canada's High Commissioner in India with the Prime Minister, featuring the Prime Minister's spouse and members of the cabinet. This person was in the event and that caused what I have said is the biggest diplomatic incident in generations, if not of all time.
Why do I say “all time”? It is because not only did the MP for Surrey Centre admit responsibility for inviting Jaspal Atwal to those events. He said that Mr. Atwal asked him, he sent the name into the Prime Minister's Office or the centre, and he was approved. However, on the trip, a story was written by CBC on February 22 entitled “Rogue Indian political elements may be trying to make Canada look weak on Sikh extremism”. In that article, the reporter said, “A senior government official with knowledge of the prime minister's security protocols is suggesting rogue political elements in India may have orchestrated the embarrassing invitation of a would-be political assassin to a formal dinner with [the Prime Minister].” The story went on to say, “The official said questions should be asked of the Indian government about how Jaspal Atwal...suddenly surfaced during [the] visit”.
This story was written by the CBC after that reporter and several other members of the press gallery following the trip were given a briefing. That senior official, revealed in the story later on, we knew was Daniel Jean, the national security adviser. When that official is saying “questions should be asked” to journalists, it is clear that an official of the Canadian government was put out a day or two after damaging world headlines to do damage control on the Prime Minister's trip. The Prime Minister, the Minister of Public Safety, and others have stood in the House and repeated this conspiracy theory.
We have one member of Parliament of the Liberal government acknowledging that they did the invitation to Mr. Atwal, yet the Prime Minister and the public safety minister suggested that it was a rogue Indian conspiracy theory. Today, the Prime Minister suggests that the opposition cannot be given the same briefing as journalists, because that would be classified.
Therefore, with such accusations levelled by the Canadian government through the Prime Minister at the Indian government, what measures are being taken to repair this profound damage with our friends in India?