Section two: Security
Special report into the allegations associated with Prime Minister Trudeau’s official visit to India in February 2018

40. This section of the report addresses security issues surrounding the Prime Minister’s trip to India in February 2018. The Committee’s Terms of Reference stated that the Committee would review the adequacy of measures to screen participants and guests on major foreign visits. In its review, the Committee sought to determine what measures were in place to screen or vet individuals associated with the Prime Minister’s delegation or participating in his itinerary. The Committee took a broad approach to these issues.

41. There are two organizations that have primary responsibility for the safety of the Prime Minister on foreign trips. The first is the RCMP, which is responsible for the physical security of the Prime Minister, his spouse and children. The second is Global Affairs Canada, which is responsible for the security of facilities where events will take place, particularly at diplomatic missions. Other organizations play supportive roles, including the Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre, which prepares threat assessments for specific visits, and CSIS, which investigates threats to the security of Canada and, in that context, provides information to the Government on those threats.

42. Three threat assessments were developed to support the Prime Minister’s trip. The first was developed by the Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre and focussed on terrorist threats. Published on February 9, 2018, the assessment identified the threat of terrorism in India *** that Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre had ***. The Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre also assessed that the Prime Minister’s delegation ***. Footnote 50 The assessment focussed almost exclusively on ***.

43. The second assessment was developed by CSIS and focussed on ***. Published on February 6, the assessment stated that ***. Footnote 51

44. The third and most comprehensive assessment was prepared by the RCMP. Published on February 12, the RCMP assessed that the threat level for the Prime Minister and his delegation was *** The RCMP stated that ***. It noted that the delegation’s travel itinerary was well-known, and that the Prime Minister and his family may be perceived as an attractive target for terrorists; with the addition of Federal Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament, the delegation may be perceived as an extremely attractive target. Footnote 52

45. The RCMP implemented a number of measures to address the *** threat level in India and the specific circumstances of the trip, notably its large delegation size, the complexity of the itinerary, the number of cities involved and its duration. The RCMP requested the Indian government take a number of security measures through a diplomatic note from the High Commission of Canada, *** Footnote 53 ***. The RCMP was satisfied with the overall level of cooperation from the Indian security services.

46. *** Footnote 54 *** Footnote 55 During the course of the visit, the Prime Minister’s Protective Detail took measures to strengthen security, including additional protective personnel for delegation members, additional drivers, and additional deployments at the delegation accommodations. Footnote 56

Events in Mumbai and Delhi

47. The security of two events during the Prime Minister’s trip is of particular interest to the Committee’s review. Those events took place in Mumbai, where Mr. Atwal was photographed, and in Delhi, where Mr. Atwal and another Canadian, ***, *** were to have attended.

48. The Canadian High Commission in India developed invitation lists for both of these events and provided them to the Prime Minister’s Office. The lists compiled by government officials in India consisted of contacts known to the consulate in Mumbai and the High Commission in Delhi. On February 10, PMO added an additional 423 names to the list of invitees and instructed the High Commission to extend invitations to those individuals for both events. Included on the PMO list were Jaspal Atwal and ***, individuals who were identified later as ***. Both are listed on Global Affairs Canada records as having confirmed their intention to attend both events.

49. The number of invitees for the Mumbai event was over 1100; the number that attended was 397. For Delhi, the number of invitees was 2500; the number that attended was 808. Based on information provided to the Secretariat, the event in Mumbai was the third largest among nineteen events held during Prime Ministerial travel since January 2016; the size of the event in Delhi was unprecedented. Footnote 57 The High Commissioner took additional measures to secure these events.

50. The event in Mumbai at which Mr. Atwal attended and was photographed took place on February 20 at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. *** The RCMP Officer in Charge noted in a post-facto report that, from a security perspective, “overall it was a good visit.” However, he also noted that Mr. Atwal’s presence was a concern: “…this man[‘s] presen[ce] significantly increased the risks to the [Prime Minister and family] and others in the room.” He also noted that, “a name check even on Google would have identified and flagged this individual if the guest list would have been accessible to security.” Footnote 58

51. Between the events in Mumbai and Delhi, Mr. Atwal’s presence was brought to the Government’s attention via several channels. The Prime Minister’s Office directed Global Affairs Canada to rescind Mr. Atwal’s invitation and, due to an Indian media report at the time, that of ***. Two other invitations were rescinded: the Prime Minister’s Office directed Global Affairs Canada to rescind the invitation to ***, and the High Commissioner directed his officials to rescind the invitation to *** Footnote 59 . Global Affairs Canada rescinded each of those invitations. Footnote 60 The sequence of these events will be reviewed in more detail in the third section of this report.

52. The event in Delhi was hosted at the Canadian High Commission on February 22. Due to the size of the event, the High Commission deployed additional security resources. The High Commission deployed Global Affairs Canada’s Security Program Manager, the Deputy Security Program Manager, 2 Military Police Service personnel, 17 locally engaged guards and 1 private guard. The High Commission deployment of guards was *** the normal complement and was the largest ever for an event Footnote 61 . High Commission staff assisted in guest screening, which consisted of three separate identity verifications and a fourth for VIP guests. Guests were asked to provide identifications outside of the High Commission, screened through a metal detector, subject to a hand-held metal detector, their personal items searched and bags checked for return after the event. Footnote 62 Guests were subject to random screening by an RCMP officer who spoke Punjabi and Hindi. No security issues were flagged in the RCMP post-facto report of the day. Footnote 63

The issue of vetting

53. Following the appearance of photos of Mr. Atwal and Canadian politicians in the Canadian and Indian press, several journalists asked questions about the vetting of guests prior to events. The Committee has substantiated what the NSIA briefed at the time: there is no systematic vetting of any guest list for foreign events for security purposes by either the RCMP or CSIS. Each of those organizations conduct security checks against intelligence and criminal databases on an ad hoc basis, and the RCMP did in fact check a number of names during the visit: on February 14, it conducted checks of 17 journalists who were accompanying the official delegation; and on February 20, it conducted checks of eight individuals who were to be in close proximity to the Prime Minister at a visit to a mosque on February 22. Footnote 64 These checks did not raise security concerns.

54. Guest lists for the events held in Mumbai and Delhi (and in all other locations) were not shared by Global Affairs Canada with the RCMP or CSIS. Global Affairs Canada officials stated that this is normal practice, because lists are the property of the Prime Minister’s Office and therefore not theirs to share. Footnote 65 As noted earlier, one guest list was compiled by Global Affairs Canada missions in India from known professional contacts, and another guest list was provided by the Prime Minister’s Office. With regards to the Prime Minister’s Office list, the Committee learned that in at least one instance, the Prime Minister’s Office directed a Liberal Member of Parliament to complete a form for potential guests to the events in India. Footnote 66 It is unclear if that form was completed in every instance or if it was used to vet guests. No forms were provided to government organizations. No analysis has been done subsequently to determine if other individuals of concern were on the PMO invitation list.

55. The security and intelligence community raised a number of challenges with the idea of vetting guest lists. For example, the RCMP wrote that it “is not responsible for vetting or accreditation of invited guests at functions hosted by local officials…abroad, or for providing security clearances to these foreign events.” Footnote 67 It stated that a database search of an individual’s name without accompanying information, such as date of birth, often produces multiple ‘hits’; guest lists are often inaccurate, incomplete and frequently change; *** There are considerable resource implications associated with vetting against criminal and intelligence databases, with the most thorough checks requiring engagement with police services of local jurisdiction to ensure the accuracy of information. Footnote 68 Guests to events would have to agree to the use of their information for vetting purposes and to permit the disclosure of any adverse information found as a result. There is no guarantee that such vetting would reveal reputational issues.

RCMP information on Mr. Atwal’s potential involvement with the Prime Minister’s visit

56. The RCMP was provided information on Mr. Atwal’s possible presence in India during the Prime Minister’s trip on February 13, 2018. That information caused RCMP personnel to search criminal databases, revealing information that should have triggered the notification of the Prime Minister’s Protective Detail and the briefing of senior officials: neither the Protective Detail nor officials were notified. The following section summarizes when the RCMP was provided relevant information and the actions it took in response. Footnote 69

RCMP timeline of events: information received on Jaspal Atwal

February 13

  • *** The officer searched criminal databases and determined Mr. Atwal had a criminal conviction for attempted murder, an acquittal for assault ***.
  • ***
  • The British Columbia (E Division) Integrated National Security Enforcement Team (EINSET) stated that it provided this information to a regional CSIS counterpart. CSIS stated it has no record of this interaction. Footnote 70
  • Because the officer who was initially contacted was going on annual leave, EINSET ***.

February 14

  • EINSET requested that RCMP Headquarters in Ottawa check Mr. Atwal’s name against the list of the Prime Minister’s official delegation. The RCMP search of the Prime Minister’s flight manifest did not identify Mr. Atwal as a member of the official delegation. The RCMP checked national criminal databases and found Mr. Atwal’s criminal record and ***. Officers in that unit noted that although the RCMP had no information that Mr. Atwal was travelling with the Prime Minister “in any official capacity, he could travel as a private citizen.”
  • A senior RCMP officer directed EINSET to determine whether Mr. Atwal was in Canada. This direction was provided in a voicemail, but not actioned because the officer was away on leave.

February 20

  • ***
  • As this information was received “at the end of shift,” EINSET decided that it would wait until the next day to validate the information ***.

February 21

  • *** Footnote 71
  • PCO requested the RCMP to conduct checks on criminal databases on Mr. Atwal. The RCMP conducted the checks and provided the results to PCO.

57. The Committee heard testimony from the RCMP Deputy Commissioner for Federal Policing on May 8. In that testimony, the RCMP admitted that the information obtained by EINSET on February 13 and sent to RCMP Headquarters on February 14 should have been provided to the Prime Minister’s Protective Detail. The RCMP also admitted that mistakes were made ***, the failure to follow up on direction to determine Mr. Atwal’s whereabouts, ***. The RCMP stated that the errors were a result of not following existing procedures and were addressed in meetings with relevant RCMP officials.

58. The RCMP stated that Mr. Atwal was not considered a threat, despite his criminal history and ***. The RCMP stated that it had no information that indicated Mr. Atwal was a threat to the Prime Minister, and that even if information on Mr. Atwal’s criminal history had been provided to the Prime Minister’s Protective Detail when it should have under proper procedures (i.e. February 14), the RCMP would only have done so as “situational awareness” and would not have changed its security deployment in India. The RCMP provided the Committee with a partial result from a search of Canada’s national criminal database, and later a search of the criminal database used in British Columbia, of Mr. Atwal and notes that Mr. Atwal was ***. ***, Mr. Atwal was identified as ‘charged,’ ***. Mr. Atwal was charged in three *** occurrences related to violence, including uttering threats and assault. Footnote 73 The Committee notes that Mr. Atwal was charged in British Columbia in April 2018 for uttering threats to cause bodily harm. Footnote 74

CSIS information on Mr. Atwal prior to the Prime Minister’s visit

59. CSIS collects intelligence against targets under investigation for threats to the security of Canada (Sections 2 and 12 of the CSIS Act). *** Footnote 75

60. ***

61. At some point, Mr. Atwal was in contact with the Member of Parliament for Surrey Centre or his office to obtain an invitation to events on the Prime Minister’s India itinerary. In that context, the Committee notes that the Member, after having taken responsibility for inviting Mr. Atwal on February 22, stated in a subsequent media interview that, “I didn’t invite the person [Mr. Atwal].” He also stated that, “There’s no spots on the list. All we did is forwarded anyone who wanted to attend, had expressed interest in the office…” and that, “ …people were calling in the office, there was about 25 or 30 names that came in from various different industries and we forwarded those name [sic] forward.” Footnote 76

62. The Committee Secretariat met the CSIS Director, the Deputy Director of Operations, and three members of the CSIS executive on May 1. At that meeting, CSIS explained ***. With respect to Mr. Atwal’s criminal history, CSIS noted that Mr. Atwal had served his time and had been acquitted on the charge of aggravated assault (against Canadian politician Ujjal Dosanjh). CSIS suggested that the RCMP was responsible for determining whether Mr. Atwal was a current threat. Footnote 77

Committee assessment and findings

63. The Committee has learned a considerable amount about Mr. Atwal’s criminal record, his involvement with the criminal justice system, ***. Mr. Atwal was convicted in 1986 of the attempted murder of an Indian Minister. Following his release from prison, he *** was charged three times, including for violence-related sections of the Criminal Code, such as uttering threats and assault. A number of Mr. Atwal’s charges have not been tried in court ***. Nonetheless, Mr. Atwal’s repeated involvement with the criminal justice system over a long period of time should have raised security concerns about his participation at events during the Prime Minister’s official trip to India in February 2018. Physical security, however, should not be the only issue of concern to the security and intelligence community or this Committee.

64. CSIS informed the Committee ***

65. The NSIA stated repeatedly that CSIS and the RCMP confirmed that Mr. Atwal was no longer considered a threat. The RCMP also confirmed this assessment. Footnote 78 This assessment is based on a physical threat: Mr. Atwal was not violent in Mumbai, and because his invitation to the Delhi reception had been rescinded, he could not have posed a further physical threat to the Prime Minister or the official delegation. That said, the Committee struggled to reconcile the security and intelligence community’s categorical denial that Mr. Atwal was a threat with the information and testimony provided to the Committee. Both CSIS and the RCMP had identified Mr. Atwal’s *** history of violence within hours of being asked by PCO to provide information after his presence in India became public, and shortly thereafter the RCMP confirmed his criminal record and that he was identified on Canada’s national criminal database ***. ***

Findings with respect to screening measures


The organizations implicated in this trip have not conducted an interdepartmental ‘lessons learned’ exercise to identify areas for improvement.


Global Affairs Canada and the RCMP took reasonable measures to ensure that guests at events were physically screened prior to entry to events, including additional security measures taken to secure facilities for events in Mumbai and Delhi. Physical screening measures are part of a wider security process that is in place to protect the Prime Minister and his or her delegation. These measures are put in place, in part, to mitigate the risks posed by guests attending events without undergoing consistent security checks.

Findings with respect to the Security and Intelligence community’s knowledge of Mr. Atwal

The Committee finds that:




The RCMP had information that suggested that Mr. Atwal was going with the Prime Minister on the official trip to India, but did not validate that information.


The RCMP had information that Mr. Atwal had a serious criminal record and a history of involvement in violent acts, issues which should have been identified as security risks to the Prime Minister and his delegation. The RCMP recognizes that it erred in not providing that information to the Prime Minister’s Protective Detail.


The RCMP assertion that the Prime Minister’s Protective Detail would not have changed its security posture even if it had known of Mr. Atwal’s presence at the event and his history of violence was questionable, at best.


The conclusion of officials from the security and intelligence community that Mr. Atwal was not a threat was based on a narrow interpretation of risk that did not reflect his known criminal record or ***

Findings with respect to *** in the context of the Prime Minister’s visit

The Committee finds that:




The NSIA provided advice to the Prime Minister on the *** prompting the Prime Minister to direct the NSIA to brief his Ministers and Members of Parliament prior to the visit.



Drawing on the Committee’s findings, an interdepartmental review should be undertaken to identify key lessons learned following these events.


The Government should develop and implement a consistent method of conducting background checks by all organizations involved in the development of proposed guest lists for foreign events with the Prime Minister.