No one forced Daniel Jean to do anything.
That was one of the key messages the national security adviser to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau brought to members of the House of Commons public safety committee on Monday in a hotly-anticipated appearance. Jean pushed back at suggestions that he was being used as a human shield by the government over the Jaspal Atwal affair.
It was the first public appearance for Jean on the matter, which has dominated political questioning since the prime minister’s much-maligned official trip to India in February.
During that trip, convicted attempted murderer Jaspal Atwal posed for photos with federal cabinet ministers and Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau during a reception in Mumbai. Atwal was set to attend a second reception in Delhi before his invitation was yanked back by the Prime Minister’s Office, following reports that he had been added to the guest list.
In his testimony, Jean confirmed publicly for the first time that it was he who provided a background briefing on the matter to journalists, including those at Global News, and told MPs he had made the decision to speak with reporters after seeing what he described as “misinformation” published by CBC News and the Vancouver Sun.
WATCH BELOW: National security adviser says he gave controversial Atwal briefing to counter ‘fabricated narrative’
Those reports suggested that the RCMP, CSE and CSIS had known in advance that Atwal would attend the Mumbai reception, but had failed to share that information in time to prevent him.
Jean told the committee on Monday that was not the case. He said he decided to speak with reporters to prevent those assertions from tarnishing the reputations of the agencies.
“I believed firmly there was too much misinformation that had been provided to Canadians,” Jean said.”We needed to make sure these three institutions were not tainted.”
The decision by Jean to appear before committee and confirm himself to have been the source of the background briefing comes after weeks of demands by the Conservatives for the government to explain the circumstances surrounding how Atwal came to be invited to the receptions in India.
More to come …