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MP blames staff for blunder

A controversial guest at a meet-and-greet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has the MP responsible for the invitation blaming his inexperienced staff.

Liberal MP Randeep Sarai says he was not personally responsible for inviting Jaspal Atwal, who spent time in prison following an assassination attempt on an Indian cabinet minister visiting Vancouver Island in 1986, on the trip to India.

Atwal was a member of the Sikh Youth Federation at the time, which has since been deemed a terrorist organization by the Canadian government. 

MP Sarai, of Surrey Centre, told the Surrey Now-Leader that he left a list of names of people interested in going to the event with his staff, and that neither he nor the young person to whom he gave the list recognized Atwal's name. 

Sarai said he and those in his office should have done better with the vetting process. 

Criticism of Atwal's inclusion in the event blossomed after photos of him with Sophie Gregoire Trudeau circuclated online. Atwal had also been invited to dinner with the prime minister, though the invitation was rescinded prior to this event. 

Former B.C. premier Ujjal Dosanjh was "flabbergasted" that Atwal was invited at all.

"I was shocked at the incompetence it must have taken for the PMO or the RCMP or the High Commission to actually accomplish this—that you have a convicted attempted assassin…who is now hobnobbing with the elite of Canadian politics," Dosanjh told CTV News at the time.

He said Atwal's presence undermined Trudeau's attempts to soothe Indian leaders' worries about the rise of Sikh separatist ideology in Canada.

- with files from CTV Vancouver 



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