PM says official’s theory that Indian factions sabotaged trip is ‘true’

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PM says official's theory that Indian factions sabotaged trip is 'true'
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers a joint statement with Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India on Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA:  Justin Trudeau is standing by a senior government official who suggested factions within the Indian government were involved in sabotaging the prime minister’s visit to India last week.

During his first question period since arriving back in Canada, opposition MPs are grilling Trudeau about invitations issued to Jaspal Atwal _ a B.C. Sikh convicted of attempting to assassinate an Indian cabinet minister in 1986 _ to attend two events with the prime minister in India.

In a background briefing arranged by the Prime Minister’s Office, a government official suggested that Atwal’s presence was arranged by factions within the Indian government who want to prevent Prime Minister Narendra Modi from getting too cosy with a foreign government they believe is not committed to a united India.

Conservatives are identifying the official as Trudeau’s national security adviser, Daniel Jean, and they’re pressing Trudeau to say whether he agrees with Jean’s “conspiracy theory.”

Trudeau is defending the official as a professional, non-partisan public servant who provides quality advice.

He says when a top diplomat and security official says something “it’s because they know it to be true.”