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View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
When you undertook the study on the trip the Prime Minister took to India, it was likely because a matter of national security would normally be involved. Is that correct?
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View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Minister Goodale appeared before this committee during the hearings on Bill C-59, I believe. At that time, he told us that he could not answer certain questions because it was a matter of national security. After that, in the House of Commons, Minister Goodale said the opposite. Daniel Jean also testified before our committee that it was not a matter of national security.
In your opinion, is it a matter of national security?
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View David McGuinty Profile
Lib. (ON)
View David McGuinty Profile
2019-05-13 15:45
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In the report, we included a letter to the Prime Minister in which we clearly deal with it.
We told him that, as per our terms of reference, we had examined the allegations of foreign interference, of risks to the Prime Minister’s security, and of inappropriate use of intelligence.
The report deals with those three matters specifically. The Department of Justice clearly redacted the report and revised it.
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View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Your report on the trip to India mentions that the Prime Minister’s Office did not screen the visitors well and that an error in judgment was probably made.
Has the Prime Minister or a member of his staff responded to your recommendations?
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View K. Kellie Leitch Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you all for presenting.
My mom was a stay-at-home mom and had a grade 10 education, and for better or worse, this is how I and my siblings turned out.
I have a quick question for you with respect to health care. Each of you touched on it. I know two of you are nurses. I'm a pediatric surgeon myself.
With respect to your position as seniors, are you finding it challenging to access the things you need as a family? You all mentioned that, because of making a choice to stay at home, you don't have those additional benefits that we know do come with employment as well. CPP is one thing, but health benefits also come with employment.
Do you find that a challenge for your families?
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Mary Moody
View Mary Moody Profile
Mary Moody
2019-04-04 10:21
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Can I answer this? Yes, I do.
When you get older, it costs a lot more for drugs. I've currently been put on a drug that I have to pay for, which is $5,000 a year.
One of the biggest things I miss in not working is the perk that your travel medical is covered forevermore. We do not have that perk. I consider it incredible when you do. We no longer can travel. My insurance to travel now is currently $2,000 for the year. My husband is 84, and his is more. Hence, we no longer can travel because of this, but if we had this paid for the rest of our lives.... We have friends who are practically at death's door, and they are able to go to California, to Mexico, to Europe. We cannot.
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View K. Kellie Leitch Profile
CPC (ON)
It creates an inequity in your lifestyle compared to your colleagues.
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Mary Moody
View Mary Moody Profile
Mary Moody
2019-04-04 10:22
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Yes, definitely. It's a huge thing.
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View K. Kellie Leitch Profile
CPC (ON)
I think it's one thing that we don't appreciate as Canadians, that when you make a choice to stay with your family, of which I think I've been a beneficiary, there are significant limitations that are outside of just strict financial ones.
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Mary Moody
View Mary Moody Profile
Mary Moody
2019-04-04 10:22
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Yes.
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View K. Kellie Leitch Profile
CPC (ON)
I have one last question. It will be directed to you again.
We have challenges in having women involved in politics. The previous panel mentioned travel. Having come from a northern community, I recognize how long it probably took you to get here. We obviously have these physical barriers. For example, my sister would never consider running, and her flight would only be from Calgary. Do you have any thoughts on dealing with the management of the travel issue?
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Madeleine Redfern
View Madeleine Redfern Profile
Madeleine Redfern
2018-09-26 17:14
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The biggest issue I have regarding travel is that when our Inuit male leaders travel with their female staff, they think it's a benefit and a perk that they can sexually harass, sexually assault or have relationships with women on the road. I know that's not answering your question, but the bigger problem is that outside the workplace, many of our leaders or managers believe those workplace rules don't exist.
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View Stephanie Kusie Profile
CPC (AB)
View Stephanie Kusie Profile
2018-06-05 15:59
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Thank you very much, Monsieur Shugart.
I am also very proud to have designed the critical paths for consular activity for Canadians on both the travel.gc.ca website and application. Canadians rely on these tools for safe travel abroad; however, the audit report also indicated that mandatory cyclical reviews of its online travel advice and advisories were not always completed on schedule.
Mr. Shugart, how could the government not mandate this critical task, leaving Canadians with incomplete information prior to making critical travel decisions, please?
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Heather Jeffrey
View Heather Jeffrey Profile
Heather Jeffrey
2018-06-05 16:00
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We were pleased that the audit report did find that, in response to crises or changes in a local context, the travel advice was updated. We maintain a 24-7 capacity here in Ottawa that is connected to situations on the ground. In the middle of the night or on the weekends, whenever events happen on the ground, the advice is updated and it is continually maintained in the local context.
Where we have fallen behind, and where the Auditor General pointed out we need to do better, is in the 18-month cyclical reviews, looking at each country in its holistic stage with all of the different pieces of advice to make sure there are no inconsistencies. We have, as a result, put in place additional capacity to ensure that we achieve that and reduce the backlog.
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2018-05-28 16:13
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Sure, but I guess the issue there is whether that is indirect foreign funding, where collusion happens and things like that. At any rate, we'll move on and try another one.
What about ministerial travel and government advertising? I've asked you about this before. It doesn't seem like you are open to the idea of harmonizing those restrictions with the same ones that are put on political parties in the pre-writ. What about requiring ministerial travel and government advertising to be included during the pre-writ as part of a party's spending limit?
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2018-05-28 20:21
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Okay.
The other one you've probably heard, as we've raised it a number of times in question period and elsewhere. It's about ministerial travel and government announcements. Our concern is that we think that gives the governing party a bit of an advantage, because there's a new restriction in the pre-writ period on what political parties can do, but when ministerial travel and government advertising are able to be done, of course the governing party could benefit from that. We feel there's a concern that this pre-writ period is longer than the period when the government is saying they would restrict advertising. Of course, on ministerial travel there's no restriction.
If we wanted to try to look at an amendment on that, would you see...? I think there are a couple of ways it could be done. Obviously, you could try to harmonize that. It wouldn't be the elections law, I know, but it could be done within the context of this legislation, I would think, or it could be done in such a way that those could become election expenses.
I'm wondering what your thoughts are on that. Is that something that's feasible and possible? If so, would you have any advice on how we might do that, if we were seeking to do it?
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Stéphane Perrault
View Stéphane Perrault Profile
Stéphane Perrault
2018-05-28 20:23
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I have a few comments. First, I think the point made earlier today was that to the extent there's an imbalance, it's on the advertising side, because there is no limit pre-writ on the parties' or MPs' travel.
On the advertising side, this is something that is captured, as you know, by a government policy. Certainly, I would welcome some harmonizing of the timelines. That's not something that perhaps should be done under the Canada Elections Act.
I do note that, if I'm not mistaken, the policy also currently requires all advertising not to be partisan. If it is not partisan, then it wouldn't be a contribution, so I'm not sure that contribution is the best angle. I think the better angle would be to harmonize the timeline, but that's something to be done within the policy.
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Aykan Erdemir
View Aykan Erdemir Profile
Aykan Erdemir
2018-04-26 13:03
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Thank you, Chair Levitt, Vice-Chairs Sweet and Hardcastle, and distinguished members of the Subcommittee on International Human Rights.
On behalf of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, I thank you for the opportunity to discuss with you today the human rights situation in Turkey. In my testimony, I will focus mainly on the state of freedom of religion or belief in Turkey, and specifically the situation of religious minorities.
Under the 15-year rule of the Justice and Development Party, the Turkish government has had a mixed record on freedom of religion or belief. These freedoms have shown slight improvement in some areas, while they have deteriorated in many others.
The government's positive gestures include restitution of properties expropriated from religious minority communities, state funding for the restoration of a number of churches and synagogues, the provision of dual citizenship to Orthodox archbishops, Turkey's observer status in the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, participation of Turkish officials at the International Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremonies, removal of religious affiliation data from official identity cards, and the lifting of the ban on the hijab in the Turkish civil service.
There has, however, been an alarming lack of respect for fundamental rights and freedoms since the abortive coup of July 2016 and the ensuing state of emergency, which the government recently extended for the seventh time.
Although Turkey's religious minorities were quick to demonstrate their loyalty in the immediate aftermath of the failed coup attempt, they still became victims of a wave of hatred and violence for their supposed complicity in the coup.
Three weeks after the coup attempt, in a demonstration of solidarity, Turkey's Jewish and Christian religious leaders joined the government's anti-coup demonstration in Istanbul. Three of the officials who spoke at the rally, however, in denouncing the coup plotters, insulted religious minorities by tarring the plotters as “seeds of Byzantium”, “crusaders”, and as a “flock of infidels”.
There has been an alarming trend among pro-government media to connect the coup plot to religious minorities. A pro-government journalist insisted two days after the abortive coup that Fethullah Gülen, a U.S.-based Sunni cleric who is widely considered by the Turkish public to be the coup's mastermind, has a Jewish mother and an Armenian father, and is a member of the Catholic clerical hierarchy. Another pro-government daily even published a fabricated Vatican passport to show that Gülen was a Catholic cardinal. The ecumenical patriarch of the Orthodox Church was slandered for plotting the coup with the CIA, while another pro-government columnist claimed that the plotters may be hiding in churches. Unsurprisingly, it was not long before incitement led to physical attacks against religious minorities.
Churches in Malatya and Trabzon, the scenes of lethal attacks against Christians a decade ago, were the first to be targeted. Later, an Armenian high school in Istanbul was vandalized. An Alevi worship hall there and homes in Malatya were next and Christian tourists were harassed in Gaziantep.
Attacks against religious minorities have remained at the elevated level reached shortly after the failed coup. On March 6 this year, a lone gunman fired a shot through the window of the Saint Maria Catholic Church in Trabzon. This is the fifth confirmed attack against the church since the assassination of its priest, Andrea Santoro, in 2006.
Meanwhile, Turkey's culture of impunity continues to make Christians an attractive target for hate crimes. A month and a half after the coup attempt, Turkey granted an early release to Father Santoro's murderer. The killer, who refused in court to express remorse for his crime and even made a short-lived escape from prison in 2012, managed to walk free after serving only 10 years of his 18-year sentence. In a 2011 letter to a relative he had bragged that he was treated like a king in prison, and he even vowed to kill the Pope. He added that he wanted to become even more famous than Mehmet Alì Agca, the Turkish assailant who shot and critically wounded Pope John Paul II in 1981 only to walk free from a Turkish prison in 2010.
Besides failing to tackle Turkey's culture of impunity, the Turkish government is also responsible for its ongoing crackdown on religious minorities. On October 8, 2016, authorities banned the Protestant church in Antioch, an ancient cradle of Christianity, for conducting Bible study “without a permit”. Soon afterwards, two officials of Turkey's Association of Protestant Churches reported the police had questioned them about their pastoral work. On October 17, 2016, airport officials denied entry to an American Protestant who headed the Ankara Refugee Ministry by saying that he was a national security threat. In November 2016, authorities handed control of the Syriac Church in the city of Sanliurfa, to a nearby university's faculty of Islamic theology.
It is also alarming to see that Turkey's state-run media outlets are active in smearing and scapegoating religious minorities, using state funds for incitement, particularly against Jews and Christians. For example, The Last Emperor or Payitaht: Abdülhamid, an historical series funded and broadcast by Turkey's state-run Turkish radio-television, TRT, is a blatantly anti-Semitic and anti-Christian drama. Each episode of The Last Emperor has led to an upsurge in hate speech and incitement online. One Twitter user, after watching this state-funded drama, vowed to turn the territory between the Euphrates and Nile rivers into Jewish graveyards. Another Twitter user, after watching the drama, said, “The more I watch ‘The Last Emperor,’ the more my enmity to Jews increases—you infidels, you filthy creatures.”
Turkey's state-run media outlets demonstrated a similar attitude during the July 2017 attack against the Neve Shalom Synagogue in Istanbul. Turkey's official Anadolu news agency and its state-run television network, TRT, used photos of the Istanbul synagogue attack to promote the next day's anti-Israel protests. Turkey's Jewish community reacted by stating that the government media's coverage amounted to “making Turkish Jews” a target. Both state-run outlets later deleted the incendiary tweets and removed the photo from their reports.
One case that best illustrates the smearing and scapegoating of religious minorities in Turkey is that of the U.S Pastor Andrew Brunson. On April 16 of this year, Pastor Brunson, a Presbyterian minister from North Carolina, who had been unjustly detained in a Turkish prison for 18 months, finally got to defend himself in court. His trial ended in a continuation until May 7, and he was sent back to prison to face up to seven years of pretrial detention under Turkey's draconian state of emergency. For over 20 years before his sudden arrest, Pastor Brunson has preached peacefully in Turkey's third largest city, Izmir. Following the attempted coup in 2016, Turkish authorities initially charged Pastor Brunson with membership in an armed terrorist organization. Later they added charges of espionage and attempting to overthrow the government, although there is no evidence to support any of these accusations. Pastor Brunson's attorneys finally received the indictment last month, but only after it had been leaked to the media. The 62-page indictment is a muddled collection of conspiracy theories based largely on ludicrous accusations from three secret witnesses. Turkey's pro-government media has been shameless in its smear campaign against Pastor Brunson. The media claimed that the pastor would have become the next director of the CIA had he been successful in helping to coordinate the attempted coup against Erdogan. When there was a bomb attack against wardens of the maximum security prison where Pastor Brunson was being held, a story accusing the CIA of masterminding the attack ran under the headline, “The Pastor's Bomb”.
With all this in mind, the following are a number of policy recommendations for Canada to use to target Erdogan regime's human rights abuses. The travel advice and advisories of the Government of Canada could spell out more clearly the alarming rise in the targeting of foreign nationals, religious minorities, and members of the clergy that could result in long pretrial detention without due process and attorney-client privilege.
Canadian lawmakers could organize fact-finding missions to Turkey to investigate and report on the state of freedom of religion or belief in Turkey, as well as engage Turkish lawmakers to encourage the strengthening of minority rights and freedom of religion or belief in Turkey.
Canadian officials should urge their Turkish counterparts in bilateral and multilateral platforms to lift the state of emergency as an enabler of grave human rights violations.
Canada can increase and earmark a greater portion of its international development aid to Turkey for supporting civil society organizations and projects that aim to strengthen human rights and freedom of religion or belief.
Canada can develop programs to host and/or offer refuge to Turkish minorities who are persecuted, as well as fund “scholars at risk” and “journalists at risk” programs for religious freedom advocates who have been targeted by the Turkish government for their advocacy.
The Canadian public sector can institutionalize twinning programs with their Turkish counterparts to facilitate peer-to-peer best practice sharing in the field of equal citizenship, social inclusion, anti-discrimination, and anti-hate crime policies.
Finally, the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (Sergei Magnitsky Law) provides for implementing restrictive measures against foreign nationals responsible for gross violations of internationally recognized human rights, including freedom of conscience, religion, thought, and belief. Canada could consider using the legislation to impose asset freezes and travel bans on Turkish officials and their accomplices for unjust detention of, and incitement against, religious minorities.
On behalf of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, I thank you again for inviting me to testify before this distinguished committee.
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View David Anderson Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you.
You mentioned, Dr. Caman, that you lost your job. I would like both of you to tell us a bit about the personal price you paid for this. If either of you went back to Turkey or tried to travel internationally, what would happen to you?
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Mehmet Efe Caman
View Mehmet Efe Caman Profile
Mehmet Efe Caman
2018-04-26 13:27
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Ever since I experienced those difficulties, I have never tried to go to another country, because I know that Canada has the rule of law. My passport, although on one side has been cancelled by the Turkish government, is still internationally recognized as a travel document.
I'm fine here in Canada as long as I stay here. If I decided to go anywhere else, especially to the European Union or the United States, or any country, including a third world country, it might be a big problem for me.
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Aykan Erdemir
View Aykan Erdemir Profile
Aykan Erdemir
2018-04-26 13:27
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For my part, last November I did testify at the U.S. Senate at an event organized by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, in a very similar manner—to raise the plight of Turkey's religious minorities, especially the case of U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson. Just a couple of weeks after my testimony, the Turkish government issued an arrest warrant in Turkey on bogus charges. When I appealed that warrant, the government confiscated all of my assets in Turkey.
I'm just one example of the dissidents who have to pay a price for speaking out about vulnerable communities in Turkey. I think it's really heartening to see that Turkish citizens are not bowing to these pressures. There are still people who continue to speak out.
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View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
If I may, I'm going to bring this meeting to order. This is the 103rd meeting of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. We have as our guest this morning Daniel Jean, national security and intelligence adviser.
Prior to calling on Mr. Jean, I'm going to ask that all of the camerapeople remove themselves.
Second, there has been some conversation among the members of the committee, and we will observe a moment's silence in light of the tragedy in Humboldt. If you would rise with me, we will be silent for a moment.
[A moment of silence observed]
Thank you.
As I said, our guest this morning is Daniel Jean, national security and intelligence adviser to the Prime Minister.
Mr. Jean, you certainly seem to be able to attract a crowd, but you're welcome to the committee regardless. I understand that you have an opening statement. Thereafter, you know the order of questions. With that, I'll call on you for your opening statement.
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Daniel Jean
View Daniel Jean Profile
Daniel Jean
2018-04-16 12:01
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Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Distinguished members of the committee, thank you for your time.
I welcome the opportunity to discuss with you the facts surrounding the controversy associated with the invitation of Mr. Atwal to a reception hosted by the Canadian High Commission in Delhi during the recent visit of the Prime Minister to India, as well as the background briefing I offered to representatives of Canadian media on February 22 and 23.
I wish to stress that the information that I am providing you today, like the information I shared with the media during the background briefings, is unclassified. While I have access to classified intelligence that can inform unclassified briefings, I always exercise caution on what I share in an unclassified context.
The first notification I received that Mr. Atwal was on the guest list for the Delhi High Commission reception planned in the context of the Prime Minister's visit to India came through the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service. CSIS received this information on February 21, 2018, at around 8 a.m. from a source, suggesting that Mr. Atwal's presence at the reception would be embarrassing to the Canadian government.
After the CSIS director informed me of the situation just before 10 a.m., I immediately asked our Privy Council Office Security and Intelligence team to contact the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to validate the information. Soon thereafter, we informed relevant officials at PCO, the Prime Minister's Office and PCO officials accompanying the Prime Minister in Delhi.
The RCMP confirmed that afternoon the past conviction for attempted murder on a visiting Minister of State from India in 1986. As Mr. Atwal is no longer considered a security threat by our security agencies, the issue was the controversy that his presence at the event could have generated given the nature of his past conviction. Around the same time, pictures of Mr. Atwal with members of the Prime Minister's delegation taken the day before at a reception in Mumbai and a picture of his invitation to the upcoming Delhi reception started to circulate in the Indian media. At 7:46 p.m., the CBC published a story with these pictures. That was the first article about this in Canada.
Mr. Atwal's invitation was rescinded by the High Commission in India later that night. By mid-morning on February 22, we had assessed what we knew so far about the incident drawing on both the sequence of events, unclassified information available at that stage, and classified information: Mr. Atwal had attended the Mumbai reception and pictures of him with members of the Prime Minister's entourage had surfaced in the media; Mr. Atwal was invited to the Canadian High Commission reception in New Delhi; the Prime Minister had publicly declared that the invitation should not have been extended, and a Canadian member of Parliament, Mr. Randeep Sarai had assumed responsibility for the invitation; in parallel, we had seen inaccurate information in the media and a number of false allegations that suggested that federal institutions had been informed before the trip that Mr. Atwal had received an invitation, had informed staff from the PMO, and that no action to reconsider the invitation had been taken.
At that time, I made the decision to offer a background briefing to Canadian media on what we knew in order to clarify facts, to answer a number of pressing questions from the media, and to alert them to the inaccurate information being circulated. In keeping with my usual practice, I discussed beforehand my proposal to offer a background briefing and the key messages I intended to deliver with both PCO colleagues and PMO officials.
The PMO communications department suggested a list of journalists I could contact in Ottawa that afternoon and evening in addition to the Canadian media accompanying the Prime Minister in India, who would be briefed the next day.
In the background briefings, I confirmed that I was giving an unclassified briefing on background—c'est-à-dire, no attribution by name—and I covered the following points. With regard to the invitation, I indicated that the Prime Minister had acknowledged that this invitation should not have been extended and that the member of Parliament, Mr. Sarai, had taken responsibility for the invitation. I said that the Prime Minister and Mr. Sarai were on the record on these facts and that I would not comment further on that aspect.
On how and when we were informed and the rationale for rescinding the invitation, I said, based on the information I had at that time, that the first notification we received that Mr. Atwal was on the guest list for the Delhi reception came from a source who informed CSIS in the early morning of February 21. I confirmed that we rapidly consulted the RCMP, the agency responsible for handling criminal matters, and notified PCO and PMO officials in Ottawa and Delhi. I confirmed that Mr. Atwal was no longer considered to be a security threat by our security agencies and that the invitation had been rescinded because of the controversy that could erupt given the nature of his past conviction.
I answered a number of questions around security screening for guests at receptions, and questions also around no-fly lists.
I then told media representatives that inaccurate information around the invitation of Mr. Atwal was being circulated. I referred them to the title of an Indian Express story published on February 22, which suggested that a Canadian citizen entered India after a 38-year ban as part of the Prime Minister's delegation. I indicated that this was misleading as the individual was not on the official delegation for the visit.
I noted that while the Government of Canada is glad when a Canadian citizen can resolve travel restrictions, the government had not intervened with the Indian government to remove any member of the official delegation from an interdiction to travel to India. I said that questions related to interdictions to travel to India should be directed to the Government of India.
With regard to Mr. Atwal, I said that we understood that after having difficulties travelling to India for several years, he was removed by the Indian government from the so-called blacklist in 2017 and allowed to travel there last summer as someone who is presumably no longer considered a threat, and no longer espouses the cause of an independent Khalistan. Mr. Atwal now meets with Indian diplomats in Canada and Indian officials, which is the normal process for people who go through the blacklist process. Articles subsequently published in The Indian Express and The Times of India confirm that information.
On February 24, The Times of India confirmed that Jaspal Atwal was reformed, was off the blacklist, and had been engaging with the government for three years. When you read the articles, it explains the number of officials you would normally meet through that process. In the second article—from March 9, the day after Mr. Atwal gave his press conference—the official spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs did confirm that Mr. Atwal had been removed from the blacklist in 2017 as part of a conscious effort by the Indian government of outreach with diaspora who were reformed.
I also described at that time two unfounded allegations made to the media suggesting that the PMO had been informed, days before the trip, of Mr. Atwal's presence on the guest list but that no action had been taken to rescind the invitation. It was indeed reported that CSIS had been alerted days before, and I had informed the Prime Minister's Office. CSIS has no record or recollection of such an earlier alert. CSIS confirmed that the first notification they got came on February 21 around 8 a.m.
An allegation was also made that the RCMP, Surrey detachment, had been alerted several weeks before the trip that Mr. Atwal was on the guest list and had alerted the PMO. Upon hearing the allegation, the PCO contacted senior officials at RCMP headquarters, who in turn contacted both RCMP Surrey and the Prime Minister's protective detail, who then confirmed that no such alert had been received.
With regard to attribution, as reported by journalists who received the briefing, including Tonda MacCharles and Alex Ballingall of the Toronto Star, and John Ivison of the National Post, what I said was that we had concerns that this seemed to be coordinated misinformation by actors, possibly to exacerbate the faux pas—the fact that an invitation that should not have been made had been made—in order to reinforce the notion that Canada is complacent on the risk of extremism, a perception that has been brought, at times, by Indian intelligence services, and one that we do not share.
Let's look at what the people who were briefed actually said. In the Toronto Star:
When the Star had asked those same questions last week of a senior Canadian official who spoke on condition of anonymity, the answer was: “I want to be very clear: I am not saying that the government of India set us up." However, the official did suggest that there are “people in India” who would benefit from fuelling the controversy over whether the Trudeau government is “complacent on terrorism”—an allegation the Liberal government flatly denies.
In the National Post, John Ivison wrote:
I received a briefing from a senior security source last week.... He did not allege the Indian government engineered Atwal's invitations to the events in Mumbai and New Delhi. In fact, he said Sarai was the source of the invitation and either ignored Atwal's conviction because it was 30 years old, or was unaware of his nefarious past. But he did suggest Atwal was removed from the blacklist by the Indian government—a fact also reported by the Times of India and other Indian media, which claimed it happened in July 2017.
He also alluded to the Canadian Press...upon return, Mr. Atwal had consulted his passport and confirmed that he had travelled. He had stamps in India in January and August 2017.
After I had completed the background briefings by phone with the Canadian media in Delhi on the morning of February 23, the PCO and the PMO communications brought to my attention a story published that morning, which suggested that a Surrey Punjabi media outlet had sent an anonymous tip to the Canadian high commission that Mr. Atwal was going to attend the Mumbai reception and that if the tip had immediately been acted upon, the whole controversy could have been avoided. We immediately queried the high commission. We confirmed that the tip was actually received after Mumbai, before Delhi, and it would not have made any difference.
In regard to the relationship with India, I want to stress that we take the relationship with India very seriously. Beyond sustained efforts to broaden the foreign policy relationship and grow bilateral trade, we also strive to be good security partners. Canada was not spared from violent extremism actions. We remain vigilant to any potential threat and work closely with our Indian partners within the Canadian legislative framework, including the charter.
Over the last year, our security and intelligence agencies have worked constructively to enhance co-operation with their Indian counterparts. Prior to the Prime Minister's visit to India, senior officials from the RCMP and CSIS travelled to Delhi. I met with my NSA counterpart the week before, and he told me how pleased he was with the co-operation of the RCMP and CSIS.
With regard to the invitation to Mr. Atwal, I wish to stress that throughout the incident, on the 21st and 22nd, I made several attempts to connect with my Indian counterpart by phone, and I emailed him to thank him for the good exchanges we had the week before, as well as to express our regrets over the controversy resulting from the invitation and explain that it had been rescinded.
In conclusion, I have now had the chance to share with you all relevant unclassified information that I'm privy to with regard to this issue. As you can see, the background briefing that I offered included both a faithful description of the sequence of events and answered a number of pressing questions from the media. I felt it was important to alert the Canadian media to the misinformation being circulated, notably the unfounded allegations that public institutions—first, CSIS; secondly, the RCMP; and third, our diplomatic mission in Delhi—had been informed ahead of the Mumbai reception that Mr. Atwal was on the guest list and that these institutions had relayed the information to the PMO in time to prevent the controversy. The paper trail will show that all these allegations are false.
Finally, I want to thank officials in the international security and intelligence community, who, as you can see from the sequence of events, did not spare any effort during an intense 48 hours.
Thank you.
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View Pam Damoff Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, Monsieur Jean, for being with us today and also for sending a letter to the chair asking to appear before our committee. As our chair indicated, you have attracted quite a crowd here today.
You went through a lot of information very quickly for us. I wonder if you can elaborate a bit on why you thought it was important to do the briefing that you did. I know that you spoke about a lot of facts as you went through, but why did you feel it was important to have that briefing with the media to counter the misinformation that was out there?
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Daniel Jean
View Daniel Jean Profile
Daniel Jean
2018-04-16 12:14
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There were three main objectives to the briefing. The first was—as when you are in a crisis—trying to describe to the media the facts and the sequence of events as best as we knew them at that time. The second was to answer a lot of their questions, and when you look at all the articles that these journalists wrote after that, you can see that I answered a lot of questions on security screening, vetting of lists, and no-fly lists.
The third objective—and it was an important one—was that we could see you had inaccurate information, but you also had what really looked like coordinated efforts to try to create a narrative that was actually using, in an inappropriate way, three respected public institutions, CSIS, the RCMP, and our diplomatic mission in Delhi—at the time of the background briefing, we knew about CSIS and the RCMP, while the third one came later—and suggesting that they had been alerted that Mr. Atwal was on the guest list, they had said to the Prime Minister's Office that this was the case, and that somehow the invitation was not rescinded.
From a public policy standpoint and from a Canadian interest standpoint, it's absolutely correct that the media and Canadians should ask tough questions of the government and the member of Parliament as to how this invitation was extended. It was a faux pas. It should not have happened. I answered a lot of these questions that night, as you can see from the reports from the people who received the background briefing.
In the same way, if you have actors who are trying to fabricate a narrative that is totally untrue and using three of our most respected public institutions to do that, I think there has to be someone who is neutral who can come in and alert the media to that. That's why I did it.
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View Pam Damoff Profile
Lib. (ON)
You've mentioned coordinated efforts and have said that there were actors out there who were doing this. You obviously felt that these weren't random tips being given to the media, but that it was a coordinated effort on behalf of certain actors to get this misinformation out there. Is that right?
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Daniel Jean
View Daniel Jean Profile
Daniel Jean
2018-04-16 12:16
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When you look at the sequence of events, we were first alerted in Ottawa, and then in Ottawa we discovered the tip the Vancouver Sun reported on on the 23rd. We had not seen that paper before, because when we called them to talk about Mr. Atwal, they were aware and they thought we were talking about the same thing. But, in essence, when you look at it, we were tipped. Within a matter of hours, pictures of Mr. Atwal with the entourage of the Prime Minister and a picture of his invitation were in the media, and inaccurate information was being rooted at the same time. Then you had what certainly to us in the community looked like coordinated efforts, because it was the same narrative in three different tips that were sent to the media.
The tip about CSIS was first sent to the CBC. It was going to be part of the Terry Milewski story. We were able to repeal that one. Unfortunately, for the Vancouver Sun, we didn't have a chance to get back to them on time. The one about the RCMP happened really late on the night of the 21st. Between midnight and two o'clock, we woke up the RCMP. They called their Surrey detachment. They called their PMPD, the protective detail, and they confirmed that information was false. I can tell you that the minute you see the paper trail on the actual anonymous tip, for the Vancouver Sun story on the 23rd, which was sent to the high commission, you will see right away that it happened after the Mumbai reception and before the Delhi reception, yet the Vancouver Sun was told by the anonymous tipster that it was before Mumbai and it could have prevented the faux pas.
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View Pam Damoff Profile
Lib. (ON)
You also mentioned as late as February 23 that the Surrey media outlet was printing a story, and again that happened. Was this continuing that coordinated effort afterwards, or do you think it was...?
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