Jaffer company pitched firm touted by Guergis
A company co-founded by former MP Rahim Jaffer pitched three projects to the federal government — including one involving a division of a waste management firm touted by his wife, ex-cabinet minister Helena Guergis, according to newly released documents.
One of the proposals signed by Jaffer's business partner Patrick Glémaud names Green Rite Solutions Inc., the marketing arm of Wright Tech Systems Inc., as the stakeholder in a proposed $480-million "shovel-ready" electricity generation and waste-disposal infrastructure project to be considered for the federal Green Infrastructure Fund.
Under the proposal, the total share of federal funding was to be about $100 million.
Last September, Guergis wrote a letter to local officials in her Ontario riding encouraging them to consider a presentation about alternative waste management technology from Jim Wright, owner of Richmond Hill, Ont.-based Wright Tech.
The documents were tabled by Transport and Infrastructure Minister John Baird on Wednesday night after a parliamentary committee ordered Jaffer and Glémaud — co-founders of Green Power Generation — to reveal the names of companies listed in the proposals within 24 hours.
During their testimony Wednesday before the Commons government operations committee, Jaffer and Glémaud insisted they have never been paid for any lobbying activities and have never received a penny of funding from the government.
Glémaud at first refused to provide the names of the companies to the committee. Then, after being threatened with contempt of Parliament by the committee's chair and ordered to disclose them, he told MPs he could not remember them.
"I do not recall these names," he told the committee.
Earlier in April, Guergis, who is MP for the central Ontario riding of Simcoe-Grey, resigned from the Conservative cabinet and was kicked out of the party caucus after Prime Minister Stephen Harper referred what he called "serious and credible allegations" to the RCMP.
Guergis has said there was "nothing unusual or improper" in her writing a letter of support for a constituent's company "in which neither I nor any member of my family have or had any interest, financial or otherwise."
MPs grill Baird over green fund
During Thursday's question period, opposition MPs grilled the government over what "special access" Jaffer had with Conservative members over the billion-dollar green fund. The government has said the pitches were rejected and Jaffer's firm received no federal funding.
"In this case it looks like lobbying, it swims like lobbying, it walks like lobbying, it talks like lobbying and it smells a lot like lobbying, so it must be lobbying," Liberal MP Bob Rae told the House.
Harper replied that the government has put in place important laws to regulate the affairs of lobbyists, and the independent lobbying commissioner is responsible for enforcing the rules. He said all government members "conducted themselves properly at all times," noting that there are no government contracts or business involved in the case.
"If Mr. Jaffer or any other individual has violated these laws, I am confident they will be held accountable," the prime minister said.
Baird has acknowledged dining with Jaffer and that Jaffer and Glémaud met with his parliamentary secretary, Brian Jean. But Baird steadfastly denied in the House that he ever had any contact with Jaffer about any government projects.
"At no time did Mr. Jaffer discuss any of these issues with me," Baird told the House on Thursday.
During his testimony Wednesday, Jaffer insisted he never promoted his connections within government, despite committee members having printed copies of his personal website — before it was taken down — with text stating he helped companies "secure support from the Canadian government."
His denial prompted members of the committee to question his credibility, with Conservative member Chris Warkentin telling Jaffer his behaviour "sullies all of our names."
Jaffer seen as federal 'money access point': businessmen
Meanwhile, two businessmen who heard Jaffer speak in August 2009 at a Toronto-area restaurant told CBC News they believed the former Conservative MP would be their connection to millions of dollars in government grants.
The men, who spoke to the CBC on condition of anonymity, said they were lured to the Aug. 25 meeting by an email that boasted: "Rahim Jaffer, who is the Canadian government money access point for us, will be in attendance."
"We left with the impression Jaffer was the source of funding," said the president of one company who pitched to Jaffer and business colleague Nazim Gillani, the author of the email and the organizer of the meeting.
Brian Kilgore, a spokesman for Gillani, said his client "certainly believed that Jaffer's and Glémaud's expertise lay in getting information about businesses in front of appropriate government officials, elected and public service" — based on the kinds of services listed on Jaffer's own website at the time.