The Liberal MP who invited a man convicted of attempted murder to dine with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during his trip to India has apologized and resigned as chair of his party’s Pacific Caucus.
Backbencher Randeep Sarai, the member for Surrey Centre, had claimed responsibility last week for inviting Jaspal Atwal to a pair of high-level receptions on the trip that ended last weekend.
Atwal was a member of an illegal Sikh separatist group and was convicted of attempting to assassinate Indian cabinet minister Malkiat Singh Sidhu during a visit to Vancouver Island in 1986. He was also charged — but not convicted — in the 1985 attack on Ujjal Dosanjh, who later became B.C. premier and a federal Liberal cabinet minister.
“I want to again apologize for my role in recent unfortunate events,” Sarai said on Twitter Tuesday evening.
“Moving forward, I will be exercising better judgment. As I don’t want to distract from the good work of the Pacific Caucus, I will be stepping down as caucus chair,” he said.
I want to again apologize for my role in recent unfortunate events. Moving forward, I will be exercising better judgment. As I don’t want to distract from the good work of the Pacific Caucus, I will be stepping down as caucus chair.
Soon after that message appeared, the Prime Minister’s Office said Trudeau has accepted Sarai’s resignation and that the MP “has accepted responsibility for his error in judgment.”
Atwal has political contacts as a former member of the Liberal riding association in Fleetwood—Port Kells, in the Vancouver suburbs.
He attended at least one event tied to the Trudeau visit where he was pictured with the prime minister’s wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, and Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Amarjeet Sohi.
An invitation extended to Atwal to dine at a reception for the prime minister in Delhi, an event hosted by the Canadian High Commissioner last Thursday, was rescinded.
The incident dominated international headlines on a trip that was supposed to have trade as its primary focus.