OTTAWA — Any bridges that were left between Helena Guergis and the Conservatives have been burnt to ashes following her teary interview on national television.
Some Tories reacted angrily Tuesday to the former junior cabinet minister’s first major interview since being booted from the party caucus, suggesting she twisted the truth.
Guergis told the CBC that neither Prime Minister Stephen Harper nor the party have told her exactly what the allegations are against her, besides vague references to “criminal behaviour” and drugs.
“I feel as though I have been charged, I feel as though I’ve gone through a trial, I have been convicted and now I’m being sentenced,” Guergis said. “And I still don’t know what it is I’m supposed to have done.”
But Transport Minister John Baird told the House of Commons that Harper “ensured that the member was made aware” of the “serious allegations” that faced her.
PMO spokesman Dimitri Soudas went further, insisting that the Conservative party lawyer fully briefed Guergis on the allegations.
The man who brought the whole matter forward, private investigator Derrick Snowdy, is scheduled to appear at a Commons committee today. It was Snowdy’s information that prompted Harper to drop Guergis and refer the matter to the RCMP.
Snowdy had been investigating Toronto businessman Nazim Gillani on behalf of an aggrieved investor when, he claims, he came across troubling information about Guergis and her husband, ex-Tory MP Rahim Jaffer. He said Gillani had intimated that he had compromising photographs of the couple, and that he was holding offshore accounts for them in Belize and Panama.
Gillani has denied those allegations, as have Guergis and Jaffer.
Both the Liberals and NDP attacked the Conservatives for their treatment of Guergis, after only six weeks ago calling for her resignation.
“Surely the prime minister had some concrete proof before he crucified his minister for the status of women,” said New Democrat MP Pat Martin.
“Could the prime minister tell us please what, if any, documents were actually passed to the relevant authorities regarding the member for Simcoe—Grey, or did he decide to ruin her life based on the unsubstantiated allegations of one discredited and dubious gumshoe?”
Conservatives also pointed to a part of the interview where Guergis said Jaffer did not use her Parliament Hill office for his private business activities.
An aide to Environment Minister Jim Prentice has already told the lobbying commissioner that he met with Jaffer in one of Guergis’ offices. During that meeting, Jaffer reportedly spoke about his latest business venture and brought up a project he was working on.
Public documents also show Jaffer used an email address assigned to Guergis while communicating with government officials about his private activities.
“It’s not believable,” said one Conservative. “She’s is not believable on this, she is not believable in her comments with respect to Rahim. People have a capacity to forgive when people are truthful.”
Guergis made a pointed reference in the interview to Snowdy: “I mean, I have questions about the private investigator. I have questions, serious questions. Like who is he, where did he come from, and who was he investigating and why?”
The Canadian Press reported on April 14, five days after Harper removed Guergis from caucus, that neither she nor her lawyer had been told what the allegations were.
“I’m sure you can appreciate it is very difficult to answer allegations based on innuendo from anonymous sources,” Guergis wrote that day. “Nevertheless, I intend to defend myself to the fullest extent to ensure that the record is set straight.”