An after-hours, closed-door meeting on Parliament Hill last October seemed to offer fallen MP Helena Guergis a chance to return to the Conservative fold, CBC News has learned.
At that meeting, senior members of the Conservative party sat down with Guergis, six months after Prime Minister Stephen Harper kicked her out of cabinet, caucus and the party, and three months after the RCMP cleared her of any wrongdoing.
'I felt halfway through like I just wanted to leave. I didn't think it was really in good faith at all.'—Former Conservative MP Helena Guergis
On one side of the table sat Conservative Sen. Marjory LeBreton and party lawyers Laurie Livingstone and Arthur Hamilton.
Hamilton, according to a letter obtained by CBC news, told Guergis, "I am authorized by the Prime Minister … to meet with you."
Hamilton told her if she answered a series of questions it would help in "evaluating the possibility of a return to caucus."
Guergis brought with her Conservative MP Lee Richardson, one of her caucus friends, and her former Simcoe-Grey riding president Andy Beaudoin.
"I found that a lot of the questions were irrelevant because they didn't really concern her behaviour," Beaudoin said.
Sources who were in the room said Hamilton grilled Guergis for nearly two hours, asking where she was on certain dates, and who she was with.
But most of the questions were about her husband, former Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer, and his business dealings with the same cast of characters paraded before a parliamentary committee last April.
"I found it really off the mark, unprofessional," Beaudoin said.
Hamilton and LeBreton refused to comment on the meeting.
Jaffer was accused last year of trying to use his connections as a former member of Parliament to arrange business deals. No allegations were proven, and the Conservatives have never said what Guergis was accused of, or why they kicked her out of caucus.
Harper said at the time he'd referred information to the RCMP, but the police force ended its investigation without filing charges or even questioning her, according to her lawyer.
Guergis recalls the meeting
The CBC's Laurie Graham tracked down Guergis in her riding. She hasn't spoken about the meeting until now.
"I felt halfway through like I just wanted to leave. I didn't think [the meeting] was really in good faith at all," she said.
"Now, looking back, I believe they were trying to find something else to perhaps use against me, or to justify their behaviour in some way as to what they've done to me," Guergis said.
Graham reported that people in Guergis's riding still don't know — almost a year later — why the MP was kicked out of caucus.
"I have great respect for the prime minister and I think he should be coming forward and letting everybody know why he made the decision he made," said Cal Patterson, mayor of Wasaga Beach, Ont.
Guergis said she wants to know why Harper is protecting other Conservatives, like Bev Oda, the minister of international co-operation, who admitted she ordered a document altered, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, whose office used ministerial letterhead for a fundraising letter, and Senators Irving Gerstein and Doug Finley, who face charges under the Election Act. Finley is married to Diane Finley, the minister of human resources and skills development.
Maxime Bernier, the former foreign affairs minister, was forced to resign from cabinet when he left secret documents behind at his girlfriend's home, but stayed a Conservative caucus member.
"I'm being treated very differently than they are," Guergis said.
Guergis said she was told three weeks after the October meeting that she was not welcome back. Party officials didn't give her a reason.
Last week, she sent a letter to her former caucus colleagues and said she'll run against their new chosen Conservative candidate in the next election.
An earlier version of this story misspelled Senator Marjory LeBreton's first name. The spelling has been corrected above.Mar 17, 2011 10:35 AM ET