OTTAWA — Rahim Jaffer’s use of a cluttered room across from the offices of his cabinet minister wife is likely behind government allegations against Helena Guergis, says Jaffer’s business partner.
Patrick Glemaud said he stopped by to see his friend Jaffer a few times in late 2008 as the former MP sorted through boxes and papers in the small room in Parliament Hill’s Confederation Building.
After his defeat in the October 2008 election, Jaffer was between homes and apparently used the office for temporary storage.
Glemaud said Jaffer would not have done business there, and the arrangement pre-dated Jaffer’s work at their company, Green Power Generation.
Glemaud spoke at length to The Canadian Press on Tuesday about his distress at allegations levelled against Jaffer and Guergis, who was stripped of her cabinet job and booted out of caucus last week while the RCMP makes inquiries.
He says the couple can’t even return to their home in a posh Ottawa neighbourhood because photographers await them.
“This has becoming so crazy, they cannot believe something like that. Rahim did not take a penny of taxpayer dollars, Rahim did not make a penny from any of his past connections from the Conservatives,” Glemaud said. “They’re disappointed that nobody is giving them a chance to have the benefit of the doubt, even within his own party . . . or even the opportunity to explain or defend himself. It’s a bit sad, but politics, huh?”
Guergis, who was junior minister for the status of women, confirmed in an email that Jaffer had used one of her offices, but strictly to sort out his papers after he lost his seat. The two were between homes, and didn’t have a place for him to send his boxes for a few weeks.
“He had 12 years of paper and wanted to shred it all. He used a space to do this and only this — it was all govt work,” Guergis said.
On Tuesday, the House of Commons ethics commissioner said she would not investigate unspecified allegations referred to her by the Prime Minister’s Office last week “based on the information before her.”
Mary Dawson said she would “monitor” the situation, but if the RCMP undertook their own investigation she would have to stand down any inquiry. Harper sent letters to the Mounties and Dawson’s office after hearing allegations — still not made public — from a “third party.”
In the meantime, the Liberals have asked the lobbying commissioner to investigate whether Green Power Generation was doing any unregistered lobbying.
During Question Period, Liberal MPs continued to cite examples of recent gatherings where Jaffer rubbed shoulders with cabinet ministers.
“Would any of these ministers like to tell us what discussions they had with Mr. Jaffer and whether they were disclosed to the commissioner of lobbyists as required by law?” asked MP Marcel Proulx.
The Liberals also wanted to know how another consulting company Glemaud works for, BMCI, has been able to obtain $3 million in government contracts. Jaffer does not work for that firm.
Glemaud, a former Justice Department lawyer with expertise in environmental law, said he’d co-operate fully with the commissioner, but Green Power Generation has never done any lobbying of any kind.
Green Power looks for companies trying to bring new sustainable technologies to market and advises them on what’s needed to pass government reviews, he said.
Glemaud said that’s precisely why he and Jaffer were speaking to Toronto businessman Nazim Gillani, a contact through a Jaffer family friend. Gillani told other business associates after a dinner with Jaffer last September that the former MP would open the Prime Minister’s Office to them.
Glemaud said it is completely inconceivable that Jaffer would have made such a claim.
“This is so ridiculous — Rahim didn’t even get along with the PM,” said Glemaud.
“Even before this whole issue, if they were in the same room they wouldn’t even have talked to each other. They don’t get along. There’s a personality clash between those two individuals.” Also false, he said, is the claim Jaffer was using his old MP business cards while networking: “Why would he hand out a business card with his MP title on it when everyone knows he was the only Conservative that lost office in Alberta? Why would he do something so stupid, especially with people we don’t even know?”