It's not adding up.
(This column originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)
By: Candice Malcolm
New video footage, uncovered by the Sun, casts doubt on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s explanation about what happened on his disastrous trip to India.
Just hours before news broke that a convicted Khalistani terrorist was part of Trudeau’s entourage in India, Liberal MP Randeep Sarai was interviewed on India Today and can be seen touting the Canada-India security relationship.
Sarai has since been thrown under the bus and blamed for inviting Jaspal Atwal — a B.C. Sikh convicted of the attempted murder of an Indian cabinet minister in B.C. in 1986 — to an official state dinner reception with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in India.
But last Wednesday, the rookie member of parliament was proudly discussing Canada’s approach to counter-terrorism and defending the federal government’s record in working with India.
“On national security matters, we always cooperate between the two countries,” said Sarai, talking about Canada and India. “I’ve been assured by our intelligence agencies and our law enforcement that they are in regular contact with India.”
“Any time any threats are ever (coming) from any side, we expect to share those whether India knows of anything in Canada, or Canada know of anything that may be happening in India,” said Sarai, in response to a question on Sikh separatism.
“They are always cooperating and there is zero tolerance for any extremist elements of anyone,” said Sarai.
Counter to Sarai’s defence of the national security relationship between Canada and India, the Trudeau government has accused India of purposely undermining its own national security to embarrass Canada.
Following the humiliating episode in India, Trudeau’s top national security official tried to convince reporters there was a conspiracy “orchestrated” by “rogue political elements” within the Indian government designed to embarrass Trudeau on the issue of terrorism.
On Tuesday in the House of Commons, Trudeau doubled down on the conspiracy theory, stating the reason his officials peddled the conspiracy is “because they know it to be true.”
The government of India responded by calling Trudeau’s accusations “baseless and unacceptable.” The Indian government then responded by increasing a tariff on Canadian chickpeas imported into India, from 40% up to 60%.
Trudeau’s accusations against India flies in the face of comments made by Sarai just days earlier on Indian TV.
Sarai’s comments relay confidence that Canada and India work closely together to combat national security threats, while Trudeau and his office have suggested the opposite.
Alongside accusation that “rogue elements” in India are responsible for this debacle, the Trudeau government has also laid blame on MP Sarai. Sarai issued an apology and resigned from his position as chair of the Liberal’s Pacific Caucus.
In recent exchanges in Question Period, Trudeau has alternatively leveled blame at Sarai and the Indian government for the invitation.
Many, including Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer, have questioned how these two seemingly contradictory claims could both be true. How could the invitation have been the fault of a lone Liberal MP as well as the fault of so-called rogue elements within the Indian government?
Perhaps the only feasible explanation is the Government of Canada believes that a Liberal MP conspired with rogue element of a foreign government to undermine the Prime Minister.
On Thursday, reporters asked Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale if Sarai was part of the “rogue elements.”
Goodale struggled to provide a straight answer, stating that he could not answer and had “no knowledge of Mr. Sarai’s circumstances.”
Ironically, as Goodale scurried away from reporters, MP Sarai walked down the same hallway and into the exact same media scrum. Unlike Goodale, Sarai directly answered a question from the media.
“Are you part of the “rogue elements?” “No,” answered Sarai.