Guergis told of allegations: PMO
Ex-Tory cabinet minister vows to defend herself against 'innuendo'
MP Helena Guergis was informed about the allegations against her, the Prime Minister's Office said on Wednesday, contradicting earlier comments made by the lawyer representing the former cabinet minister.
In an interview with CBC News, Howard Rubel said his client has yet to be told what allegations led Prime Minister Stephen Harper to kick her out of caucus and contact the RCMP.
But Dimitri Soudas, a spokesman for the prime minister, told CBC News that a Conservative Party lawyer informed Guergis of the allegations last Friday, the day she was ousted from caucus.
Soudas said the allegations against Guergis are "serious and credible" and that a Conservative Party lawyer was asked to inform her because of "legal issues."
Rubel said Guergis is "terribly upset" about the type of allegations surfacing in the media and in Parliament, as well as the way they are coming out.
"She has made it clear from the outset that she will respond to these allegations, and she wants to respond to these allegations," Rubel said. "Unfortunately, it is impossible to respond to allegations if they have not yet been disclosed to her."
Rubel said they stood by their position that she was not told.
The Toronto-based Rubel also represented Guergis's husband, former Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer, and oversaw his plea bargain stemming from his arrest last September. Jaffer was pulled over by police near Guergis's southern Ontario riding of Simcoe-Grey.
Earlier Wednesday, Guergis said she intends to defend herself "to the fullest extent" against unspecified allegations that forced her to resign from Harper's cabinet late last week "to ensure that the record is set straight."
In an email sent Wednesday to CBC reporter Alison Crawford, Guergis said she "would very much like to answer" the media's questions on the allegations and will try to do so "in due course."
"I'm sure you can appreciate it is very difficult to answer allegations based on innuendo from anonymous sources," she said.
Guergis, who was kicked out of the Tory caucus last Friday, said she contacted the RCMP and the ethics commissioner to offer her full co-operation once she heard the prime minister had referred "certain matters" to the authorities.
On Tuesday, Mary Dawson, the federal ethics commissioner, said she is not in a position to investigate Guergis, who was minister of state for the status of women.
"The ethics commissioner has already said she does not have any information to warrant an investigation and I'm still awaiting an answer from the RCMP," Guergis said. "Because this is now in the hands of the police I have retained legal counsel."
In a separate email to The Canadian Press, Guergis said she was shocked by a media report suggesting Harper called the Mounties to investigate her on a drug-related matter.
She said that CTV News report is "completely ridiculous and an example of rumours gone amok."
MPs question Jaffer's green fund queries
In the House of Commons on Wednesday, opposition parties continued to accuse the prime minister of ignoring allegations that Jaffer used her parliamentary offices for lobbying purposes, while also questioning what contact he had with his former Conservative colleagues in Harper's cabinet.
During question period, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said Harper's refusal to disclose the allegations fits the "pattern of arrogance" shown in proroguing Parliament and refusing to release unredacted documents to MPs on the Afghan detainee affair.
Harper replied that he took appropriate action by forwarding the allegations to the proper authorities when he heard of them.
"The consistent pattern here is that the government does what is the appropriate thing to do," he told the House.
Liberal MP Mark Holland questioned why meetings between Jaffer and the Conservative parliamentary secretary in charge of a billion-dollar green infrastructure fund weren't reported to the federal lobbying commissioner. Neither Jaffer nor Patrick Glémaud, his business partner at Green Power Generation, is registered as a lobbyist.
Holland described the meetings as "the very definition of lobbying, none of it registered."
Transport Minister John Baird acknowledged Brian Jean, his parliamentary secretary, met with Jaffer and Glémaud, but rejected their proposals outright.
"No funding was recommended to any of the projects in question that were discussed, and that is something that has been very clearly stated by the prime minister and the secretary," Baird told the House.
Earlier in the day, Environment Minister Jim Prentice acknowledged that Jaffer asked him in a "30-second conversation" more than a year ago whether he handled the green fund, and he told him he didn't.
Jaffer plea deal details revealed
Meanwhile, CBC News has learned the Crown felt it had no choice but to drop charges of cocaine possession and drunk driving against Jaffer in favour of a guilty plea on a lesser charge because of how police handled the case.
According to sources close to the case, police made two fateful decisions: repeatedly denying Jaffer access to his own lawyers and a strip search after he was pulled over on a rural road on Sept. 11 in the community of Palgrave, northwest of Toronto.
In early March, Jaffer pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of careless driving — incurring a $500 fine, demerit points on his driver's licence and a voluntary $500 charitable donation — in a deal that sparked public outcry and questions over whether justice had been served.
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty defended the Crown's decision to drop the more serious charges, saying these kinds of "missteps" during police investigations "happen from time to time."
"I have confidence that the Crown made the right decision, given the circumstances," the premier told reporters Wednesday.
"Obviously we want to draw any lessons we might under those circumstances, but the reason we're attaching so much significance to this is because of the particularly high profile."
With files from The Canadian Press