Monday, April 9, 2018


     David Akin:  The senior government official had volunteered to explain to journalists how it had come to be that a man convicted of the attempted murder of a Sikh politician in Canada — a crime the sentencing judge called an act of terrorism — ended up years later on the guest list for a reception in India with Canada’s prime minister. That convict, Jaspal Atwal, had also managed to get his picture snapped with Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and other Trudeau cabinet ministers at another reception in India. We, like most other news organizations, wanted to know what, if any, procedures were in place to do background checks for attendees at these receptions.   
    To answer those questions, the PMO media relations team put us in touch, “on background,” with this senior government official. That official, rather than just simply explain how or if background checks were done for attendees at events the prime minister was likely to be at, used the opportunity to advance the theory that Atwal’s presence at these receptions in India may have been engineered by the Indian government or “factions” within the government in order to embarrass the Trudeau government, which some in India consider to be “soft” on Sikh extremism.
        I had one of those background briefings with a senior government official. It was a 35-minute telephone call around dinner time on February 24. Trudeau, as we talked, was in the air on his way home from India. I spent a substantial portion of that call trying to convince this senior government official — henceforth referred to as the SGO — to go “on the record”.  I was unsuccessful.
      Now, while I and other Global journalists have reported on the broad strokes of what a SGO had to say in multiple briefings given to journalists between February 22 and 24, here is some more detail from the briefing I had on February 24 about some of the issues subsequently raised by parliamentarians and likely to be raised when or if the Commons public safety committee hears testimony from Jean.

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