A Canadian MP who took “full responsibility” for a dinner invitation to a convicted Khalistani militant, has now said that his office had forwarded the names of “anybody who expressed interest” for the event involving Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during his recent visit to India.
“Look, I took full responsibility as soon as I found out that this had happened and I...should have vetted them [the names] before I forwarded them,” MP Randeep S Sarai told Surrey Now-Leader in an interview published on Friday. “I should have looked a bit more diligently at it.”
Jaspal Atwal, a member of the banned International Sikh Youth Federation, had attended a dinner hosted in honour of Trudeau in Mumbai on February 20. An invitation to him to another dinner reception in New Delhi two days later was rescinded after a furore. The Khalistani militant was convicted in 1986 for trying to kill Punjab Cabinet minister Malkiat Singh Sidhu in Vancouver Island.
“All we did is forward [names of] anybody that wanted to attend,” Sarai told Surrey Now-Leader. “I just forwarded the names that I received...I should have searched the names up and done my due diligence better.”
Sarai said he was a “new, young” lawmaker and “a rookie”, and was “learning from [his] mistakes”. He said he would not resign as the MP, despite calls for him to step down.
On Wednesday, Sarai had resigned as the chairperson of the Liberal Party’s Pacific Caucus. “Moving forward, I will be exercising better judgement,” he had said.
He denied knowing Atwal personally. “I’ve seen him around but I don’t have anything beyond socially when we see him at media events or at public events, I don’t have any other relationship with him,” he said.
Sarai was part of Trudeau’s delegation during his week-long visit to India.