Former head of CSIS doesn’t buy conspiracy theory that India planted Atwal to embarrass Trudeau

By: Yael Berger

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s current national security advisor may be spinning a theory that the Indian government played a role in Jaspal Atwal’s appearance on a guest list at the Canadian High Commission, but the former head of Canada’s spy agency says he doesn’t buy it.

“I just don’t see it”, said Dick Fadden, who served as head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and was a national security advisor to former Prime Minister Stephen Harper and to Justin Trudeau.

“If it were true, it would be very serious indeed, which is why I think it’s probably not true because I still don’t see the advantage to India of their doing this,” Fadden told Evan Solomon on the Evan Solomon Show on the iHeart Radio Talk Network.

Atwal, who was convicted of attempting to assassinate an Indian cabinet minister who was visiting Canada in 1986, made his way onto the guest list for an event with Trudeau at the High Commission in India last month.

B.C. Liberal MP Randeep Sarai took responsibility for Atwal’s name appearing on the list after Trudeau received backlash when Atwal popped up in photos with Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi.

Then an anonymous bureaucrat briefed reporters on the incident, suggesting that factions within the Indian government planted Atwal on the list to embarrass Trudeau and make him appear sympathetic to Sikh extremism.

That anonymous official was quickly identified as Daniel Jean, Trudeau’s current national security advisor.

“Yes it’s theoretically possible that an agency came up with this brilliant idea and proceeded without the agreement of the government of India, but I think that’s fairly unlikely,” Fadden told Solomon referring to Jean’s conspiracy theory.

“I think it was a series of mistakes,” Fadden said. “Very often when it’s a major trip abroad and other people are given the opportunity to invite people, things fall between the cracks. My guess is that’s what happened in this case,” 

Sarai has since told media he did not invite Atwal to the event in India, but rather forwarded his name, along with others, along as people who requested to attend.

“I’d like to think because of this they will tighten their procedures and it won’t happen again,” said Fadden.

Listen to the full segment.