Jaffer didn't lobby for us, waste firm says
Company touted by Jaffer's wife denies any financial dealings with ex-MP
The waste management firm at the centre of allegations against Rahim Jaffer says it never hired the former Conservative MP to lobby the federal government for access to a green infrastructure fund.
Jaffer has been accused of using his ties with former government colleagues in an attempt to gain access to the green fund for alternative energy projects pitched by his firm, Green Power Generation Corp., without registering as a lobbyist.
In a statement to CBC News on Friday, Wright Tech Systems chair Jim Wright said his company "never had any financial dealings" with Jaffer or Toronto businessman Nazim Gillani.
Jaffer's wife, former cabinet minister Helena Guergis, has been accused of conflict of interest for writing a letter to local officials in her Ontario riding last September encouraging them to consider a presentation from Wright as an alternative to a proposed landfill in the area.
Media reports have alleged Gillani was planning to take public the marketing arm of Wright Tech, Green Rite Solutions Inc.
Jaffer and Gillani are alleged to have discussed plans for the Richmond Hill, Ont.-based company on the night last September that Jaffer was pulled over and charged with drunk driving and cocaine possession.
Documents released earlier this week show one of three proposals submitted to Brian Jean, parliamentary secretary to Transport and Infrastructure Minister John Baird, by Jaffer's firm listed Green Rite as the stakeholder in a proposed $480-million "shovel-ready" electricity generation and waste-disposal project to be considered for the green fund.
Baird, who is in charge of the fund, has said he never discussed any projects with Jaffer and insisted no federal money ever went to any proposals from Jaffer's firm.
The three proposals were signed by Jaffer's business partner, Patrick Glémaud, who faced a grilling along with Jaffer on Wednesday from MPs at a parliamentary committee examining the allegations of unregistered lobbying.
Jaffer met with staffer 'on behalf' of company: Prentice
Opposition parties have demanded the government disclose all contact Conservative members and staffers have had with Jaffer since he was defeated in the 2008 federal election in the Alberta riding of Edmonton-Strathcona.
On Friday, Environment Minister Jim Prentice rose in the House of Commons on a point of order to disclose Jaffer met with his staff member, Scott Winger, and their discussions "involved representations by Mr. Jaffer on behalf of a company."
Prentice said he felt it was his "obligation to advise the House" after learning about the discussion on Tuesday. He added his staffer has forwarded documents and details of the discussions to the ethics and lobbying commissioners.
Liberal MP Wayne Easter called on Prentice to table the information forwarded to the lobbying commissioner in the House. When contacted by CBC News, Prentice's office said it was not releasing the documents.
Speaking to reporters outside the House following Prentice's disclosure, NDP MP Pat Martin said government ministers are now "scouring their calendars" to find any record of Jaffer approaching them.
"Now that they've made up their mind to throw Rahim under the bus … they're going to go to great lengths to distance themselves from any record of contact," Martin said.
During their testimony on Wednesday, Jaffer and Glémaud insisted they have never been paid for any lobbying activities and have never received a penny of funding from the government. They said they were confident the lobbying commissioner would clear their name.
Jaffer later described the committee as a "circus." In a letter to the committee after his appearance, Glémaud suggested racism played a part in the committee's harsh treatment of "two young Canadians who have not been found guilty of any crimes."
In early March, Jaffer pleaded guilty to careless driving and paid a $500 fine as part of a plea agreement that saw the more serious charges from his September arrest dropped.
Jaffer 'did not bring any substance'
In his statement, Wright said his company met with Gillani and Jaffer in the course of promoting their waste conversion technology in Canada and abroad to "assess potential financial opportunities." But Wright said at no time has either Gillani or Jaffer "had any financial interest in these companies."
"At no time have any payments of any kind been made between any of these parties," Wright said. "We certainly never discussed lobby efforts."
Wright said Jaffer "appeared to always act in good faith but did not bring any substance to the discussions." He added his company terminated its involvement with Green Power Generation "when it became apparent that in order to receive any funding, all of the effort was to be provided by Green Rite Solutions and Wright Tech."
Guergis, MP for the central Ontario riding of Simcoe-Grey, resigned from the Conservative cabinet and was kicked out of the party caucus earlier this month 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."
In his statement Friday, Wright said he recalls talking with Guergis once over the telephone about the merits of his company's technology, and he called any conflict-of-interest allegations against her "misguided."
- Environment Minister Jim Prentice told the House of Commons on Friday that Rahim Jaffer met a member of his Calgary staff, not that the staff member met Jaffer in Calgary as originally reported.Apr 26, 2010 9:20 PM ET