PM Trudeau faces more questions about India while in Montreal
Published Thursday, March 1, 2018 2:11PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, March 1, 2018 6:26PM EST
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spent Thursday in Montreal, where he was hoping to spend time talking about high school dropouts being trained to work in the food industry.
Instead he was questioned about his recent trip to India.
Trudeau's first visit Thursday was to an organization in the Southwest borough called Cuisine Atout, which offers courses in food preparation to adults who haven't graduated from high school so that they can find work in the food industry.
The Prime Minister is in Montreal to tout his government's new Canada Workers Benefit, new tax benefit aimed at encouraging more unemployed Canadians to join the workplace by lowering taxes for low income workers to make ends meet.
Reporters then questioned him repeatedly about his recent trip to India and his ties to Jaspal Atwal, a convicted Sikh extremist who once tried to kill an Indian cabinet minister.
Atwal was photographed with the PM's wife while they were in India.
Trudeau was asked if his visit to India brought disgrace to Canada.
He said on the contrary the trip was very successful that it would lead to a billion dollars in investments in Canada and close to 6,000 new jobs.
Trudeau also continued to defend his national security advisor Daniel Jean, who suggested during a media briefing earlier this week that factions in India were behind the invitation to a Atwal to sabotage the Prime Minister's trip.
"As I said the individual in question never should have received an invitation and the member of parliament responsible for extending that invitation has taken responsibility and apologized for that," said Trudeau.
"On top of that I continue to trust and support our national security agencies and officials and when they highlight that there are concerns around a particular issue, I trust them and I believe them."
Atwal told the Canadian Press that any suggestion the Indian government helped him get into the reception is a "total lie."
The Indian government issued a news release on Wednesday calling the Canadian allegations "baseless and unacceptable."
Meantime in Ottawa, Public Security Minister Ralph Goodale was testifying on an unrelated matter before a House of Commons national security committee, where afterwards there was an awkward exchange with media.
Reporters repeatedly asked him why a government official made this suggestion about India's involvement, especially when MP Randeep Sarai, a Liberal BC backbencher, already took full responsibility for inviting the attempted murderer.
“You’re asking me to wade in to details of classified material…I cannot do that,” he said.
As he walked away from the media, Sarai turned up behind the media scrum, headed for the same elevator.
Sarai did not answer any questions about his involvement in the Atwal affair.