Guergis appeals dismissal of lawsuit against Harper
Former Conservative MP Helena Guergis has appealed the dismissal of her lawsuit against Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other top Conservatives which stemmed from her departure from government in 2010.
The appeal, filed on Monday, disagrees broadly with the court's finding, citing 53 reasons why the Ontario Court of Appeal should overturn her latest courtroom defeat.
Among other points, Guergis argues that the court erred in finding that there was no reasonable cause of action, ignoring the reasons she had cited. She says defamatory statements made by some of the Conservatives and staffers involved "were not statements made by high officers of state" and therefore not protected.
As well, some statements made by Labour Minister Lisa Raitt were not protected by absolute privilege, contrary to the judge's finding, Guergis's appeal says.
In a long-running fight with her former leader, Guergis had sued Harper and numerous other defendants, including Raitt and Conservative MP Shelly Glover, alleging conspiracy, defamation, misfeasance in public office, negligence and infliction of mental suffering. She had sought total damages of $1.3 million.
Guergis was forced to resign as Minister of State for the Status of Women in April 2010 after published reports raised questions about the propriety of her dealings with people outside the government. Harper referred the matter to the RCMP for further investigation.
The RCMP cleared Guergis, and no charges were ever laid against her.
By then, however, she was out of the cabinet and out of the Conservative caucus. She ran as an independent in the 2011 election but was defeated by the Conservative candidate in her Ontario riding of Simcoe-Grey.
In addition to her former boss and caucus colleagues, Guergis's original suit targeted:
- Guy Giorno, Harper's former chief of staff.
- Ray Novak, Harper's principal secretary.
- Arthur Hamilton, the Conservative Party's lawyer.
- Cassels Brock & Blackwell, Hamilton's law firm.
- The Conservative Party of Canada.
- Derrick Snowdy, the private investigator who helped spark controversy around Guergis.
- Axelle Pellerin, a former staff member with Raitt and Guergis.
Her original statement of claim alleged that in 2010, the defendants entered into a conspiracy with each other to "engage in unlawful acts in order to remove" or justify her removal from the Conservative caucus.
She says they came up with the conspiracy to serve their political, personal or financial goals and not for a legitimate purpose.