Letter to Maclean's from another rogue Helena Guergis staffer - Macleans.ca

Letter to Maclean’s from another rogue Helena Guergis staffer

Doesn’t ID herself as minister’s spokesperson, sees no conflict, and is not apologizing


helena guergis letterA long-time spokesperson of Minister Helena Guergis insists there was no conflict of interest when she wrote a glowing letter to Maclean’s about her boss—but failed to identify herself as the MP’s employee.

Valerie Knight, who has worked for Guergis for three and a half years in her Alliston constituency office, says it never crossed her mind to disclose their affiliation when she sent a letter to the editor on Mar. 14. The letter was written in response to the Maclean’s article “Power couple, unplugged,” about Guergis and her husband, former MP Rahim Jaffer, who have been scandal-plagued lately. Knight listed awards that Guergis has received, and concluded, “Power couple—I don’t know. Smart, hard working, accomplished—you bet.” The letter is signed with Knight’s name and personal contact information only.

Knight’s stunt coincides with a similar incident: earlier Tuesday, another Guergis staffer, Jessica Craven, was caught sending flattering letters about the minister to Ontario newspapers using her married name, Morgan. She has apologized, and insists Guergis had no idea. The minister has since spoken out, calling these letters “inappropriate.”

Guergis wasn’t aware of her letter either, says Knight, which she penned out of frustration one Sunday morning after reading the magazine article. She doesn’t regret not identifying herself in the letter, and says she was exercising free speech. “People are dying for that friggin’ right.” Nor is Knight concerned about what her boss will think. “I don’t care what [Guergis] thinks of my letter, quite frankly. I mean, it’s a letter. She knows how I feel,” Knight told Maclean’s. “She knows that if I want to say something, you can’t stop me.” Just what everybody wants in a spokesperson, no doubt.

When furthered questioned about whether this was a coordinated effort from the Guergis camp to lift the minister’s tarnished image, Knight maintains she didn’t know about Craven’s letter, and no one knew about hers: “I just sit here, have my coffee, get pissed off, write a letter, end of story.” For now.


Letter to Maclean’s from another rogue Helena Guergis staffer

  1. What an ethical vacuity.

    • What a monumental twit she is.

  2. Missed Congeniality

  3. When you're a staffer working for the person, and you write in to give a glowing account/defend her from criticism.. and one of the staffers sends in a pseudonym to try to his the fact they work for that person.. you dont see even the SLIGHTEST conflict of interest there?

    • Scott, that's because you don't know who else is doing it. I am sure there are a lot of staffers on the comments sections of newspapers using pseudonyms to support their candidate. Valerie Knight got caught. Just look at the Globe and Mail comments section. Whenever there is an article bashing Harper, all these voices come out of the woodwork, all with one or two liners bashing Harper. You don't think they aren't getting paid in some way? If so, you are so innocent.

      • We're not talking about comments. We're talking about letters to the editor.

        I've always declared my interests when I've done that. I didn't even have to think about it. I'd even do that here if I had any interests to declare. It's not that hard and it demonstrates good faith.

      • In other words, cyou see nothing wrong with dishonest and unethical behaviour by a Conservative. You don't care if they are shown to be liars. You'll just keep saying "but everybody else does it too!" without any evidence.

        Are there no rightwingers who have any moral standards at all?

      • I don't care who else is doing it, Liz. I'll refer to what Maclean's Regular and Holly said before me… but really, this 'they do it too!" excuse that you Conservative apologists give every time one of the Cons Ministers or their staffers gets caught doing something they shouldn't is really pathetic.

        I remember not too long ago Harper as promising accountability and ethical government – when he was in opposition. How soon that disappeared once he and his supporters got into power.. and they're doing all of this while they're in a minority position.

        • I'm not being a Conservative apologist. I'm just saying that with the amount of garbage dumped on the Globe's boards everyday from both sides, that I'm sure Ms. Guergis' staff are not the only ones doing it. I shouldn't have used Harper as an example. I don't feel there is any difference between a letter to the editor and a comment. If we are going to persecute Ms. Guergis, then maybe comment boards should require your real name at which point I would have to stop commenting as I work for the government.

          • There's a big difference between supporters writing in to defend someone, and a staffer doing it while on the payroll of the government in question and the minister in particular.

          • How do you know the hacks on newspaper boards aren't being paid by their respective parties? They have to be. Why would you sit on a newspaper board for eight hours a day spitting out the same garbage to the same people over and over again. How futile. I comment now and again but I am getting increasing bored with the ongoing drama of the same posters day in and day out. Different day same people, approximately eight hours. What do you think?

          • Once again, we're talking Letters to the Editor here, not blog comments. And if you think blog commenters are being paid to post, then you must have an inflated view of the budgets that political parties have.

      • Frankly, I don't care where they're writing things. They are in the employ of the Government. As such, they are obligated to identify themselves when they are writing about Government business. That includes posts in comments sections, blogs, letters to the editor, etc.

        It doesn't matter if anyone else is doing it. Actually, no, it does matter. Its just as bad if people from other parties are doing it; they should stop too. But it doesn't diminish the importance of what she did, it just means that there are other parties that treat taxpayers with contempt.

        • As such, they are obligated to identify themselves when they are writing about Government business. That includes posts in comments sections, blogs, letters to the editor, etc.



    • Apparently people are dying for 'this frigging right'.

  4. I swear i don't work for any of these clowns

  5. I can certainly believe it never crossed her mind.

  6. So how long have YOU worked for Ms. Guergis?

  7. "Doesn't ID herself as minister's spokesperson, sees no conflict, and is not apologizing"
    This is called propaganda

  8. God, how stupid are these people, they don't even realize that it's a bad idea to sign your real name to a letter like that?

  9. Hey, easy now…every diva needs her synchophants. Ms. Guergis appears to have at least one in each of her constituency offices.

  10. Given everything we've heard about Helena Guergis, these letters sound suspicious.

  11. Look up astroturfing.

    Do any of you remember Warren Betanko?

    "In 1998, Paul Reitsma, former member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, was accused of writing letters to newspapers under assumed names praising himself and attacking his political opponents. A Parksville newspaper had asked a former RCMP handwriting expert to compare a sample of Reitsma's handwriting to that of letters to the editor submitted by a "Warren Betanko", and then ran a story titled "MLA Reitsma is a liar and we can prove it". For this, Reitsma was expelled from the caucus of the British Columbia Liberal Party and then compelled to resign his seat after it became obvious that an effort to recall him would succeed."

  12. Well, Ms Knight does sound like Ms Guergis's soulmate. Hard to believe she could write those letters — doesn't seem the literate type.

  13. She has staffers that lo-oo-ve her, Not identifying herself as who she is and what she does is tackey. Never mind her language.

    • Oh sure they love her. Until she gets really pi*ssed off at them, which I'm sure she does on a regular basis. That one is as cold as a stone, and as vain as a failed beauty queen.
      Wait for the tell-all books.

  14. This is so tipical of the CONS. Better known as the suposiTORYs

    • Good one.

    • Name calling. That's sooo much more intelligent.

  15. By using her real name, she shows she was not really trying to hide anything. I think she just may be THAT dumb, that it in fact did not cross her mind. Obviously she has the right to write a letter to the newspaper, but it is also obvious that her job should have been disclosed.

    • But why? She works for the good guys, and not the bad guys! Tee-hee-hee!

  16. It's no different than half of the people commenting on this story. I'm pretty sure that many of them are either on the Liberal Party payroll or card carrying members.

    I am not a member or employee of any political party.

    • Ah, but are you an employee of a consulting firm that the Conservative Party employs?

      • NO I am not and never have been.

    • Neither am I…anybody else care to join the declaration parade?

      • So declared: I am not on any government or party payroll.

        I did qualify for the Home Renovation Tax Credit though, does that mean I'm on the Conservative payroll?

        • Im currently an unemployed engineer in Western Canada. I assure you im not getting paid for anything! (not even EI;) Further, Im too young to carry a political card…

          But I do have to watch prime time Canada Action Plan commercials and read big, bold colourful signs all over the country's highways, and now read letters from staffers, telling me how good a job my government is doing. Seeing as though tthose advertisements and propaghanda are my tax dollars at work, does that make me a supporter of the conservative party?

        • Nor, I. Not paid by any party, nor a member of any party. I live in Calgary though, most people here seem to think that means that I'm a CPC supporter by default.

      • I work for the provincial government, so I keep a lot of my thoughts to myself when commenting publicly. We tend to be hidden, mostly, behind Corporate Communications, but I think its important that public servants participate in public discourse.

        • Corporate Communicationsas a name for a government department…nice April Fool's joke.

          • As it has been a truism for several decades now that government should be run more like a business, the words have also changed. I was somewhat startled by this when I started, but I think I can accept "corporate" in its sense of referring to the body. I must admit, I misidentified which Comm branch speaks for us to the public, as Corporate Comm would of course be the branch that speaks to us. The group that speaks for a ministry is simply named Communications Branch, at least in the Province.

    • Would totally love it if anyone wanted to pay me for my time here.
      (Call me)

    • Staffers using aliases and sending in astro-turf letters designed to try to show "common people" support the embattled minister in question is quite a bit different from members of a political party writing on here, Fred.. for you o try to even equate the 2 is laughable.

      • Who do you work for?

        • Not a Liberal MP or MPP, I can assure you. My writing and my opinions are my own, and I'm not getting "paid" to offer them.

    • bang on. if they aren't here, they're thumbing up and down at the Globe and Mail all day. This is what they do all day, when they're not thinking deeply.

      • Sort of like "Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey"

        • Neocons are so focused on money that they think everyone has to get paid for what they do. They don't get the concept of involvement, and volunteering, and working towards a cause.
          I wish someone would pay me. I've become an addicted follower ever since I woke up and realized what a troll Stephen Harper is, and how much he's endangering our country.

          I don't need payment – it will be payment enough to have sanity restored to Canada, to have Parliament respected the way it's supposed to be, and to see that great parasite put out of the PMO, permanently.

  17. Her staffers are quite articulate…

    • Yes – definitely members of Margaret Wente's "Tim Horton's Nation".

  18. Boom

  19. Oh please shall we sum up?
    Guergis throws boots in said airport…
    Staff tries to throw off public with true lies..

    All I want to know is which EA wrote her thesis?

    • Thesis? That would imply she has an education of some sort, which I'm sure is not the case. Former beauty queen, ran a bed and bath store (?) — yeah, she's cabinet material.

      • Actually she got her MBA from U of A last year. She went on and on about her thesis in committee. Turns out she did not write a thesis according to the university.

        So my sarcasm got the best of me. Apparently, she got marks for a failed business – she does not have an undergraduate degree.

  20. I think I would rather get an account about someone's character from someone who actually knows that person than listen to rants from bloggers and journalists who just think they know the person. And the Liberal and NDP hypocrites don't impress me either. They've all done it themselves. Since when only people who have a bad opinion of someone or a score to settle are entitled to write letters? I'm not saying that Guergis is right or wrong, just that people have the right to support or can her. Not just can her.

    • Does make you wonder tho, who these Harper supporters on public forums really are, doesn't it?

    • "I think I would rather get an account about someone's character from someone who actually knows that person than listen to rants from bloggers and journalists who just think they know the person."

      I think you're making an assumption that Guergis wasn't involved; for all we know, she dictated the letters herself. At minimum, you have to see the possibility of coercion on her part.

    • Follow that through. Bin Laden's lieutenants are quite enamored of him. Should that be where we judge his character from? Should we even listen to such people regarding him?

      It's not an issue of good or bad opinion, it's an issue of those who stand to benefit (or lose) from the brightening (or tarnishing) of the person's reputation. Letters from the staff of a rival candidate in her riding would be equally suspect.

      • "Letters rom the staff of a rival candidate in her riding would be equally suspect." That's an excellent point.

    • The Conservative party is full of second rate people. That is why Stephen Harper only lets a few ministers speak (after four years). As to whether we have to know Guergis personally or not to make a judgement, "If it looks like a pitbull and acts like a pitbull, it probably is a pitbull".

  21. What next! Guergis is a nightmare, but it looks good on the Harperites. No wonder Stevie tried to keep most of his Ministers in the closet and their mouths closed! Guergis and Jaffer, a "Power couple," alright. It's downhill for the Neocons, from here on in….

    • You betcha. May the Crumbling begin. Get the wood piled up for the bonfire, buy the fireworks, stack up the beer – it's going to be party time!!

  22. “People are dying for that friggin' right” (the right to free speech).

    What? People are dying so that Canadians can send misleading letters to newspaper editors? This woman is completely delusional. She should be sent to the Afghan front lines for comments like that.

    • Don't tell the kids "free speech" is a defense for lying your head off. It seems the loudest defenders of "free speech" these days seem to feel no obligation to make sure it's "truthful speech".

      • It seems to be a trend among the Neocons lately. It's supposed to cover for their lying. "Yah – but it was only FREE SPEECH when I said I never stole that money!"

  23. No way to defend this. She and her staffer should resign immediately. Go back to the private sector where this type of behaviour is acceptable. She'll thrive.

    • There's nowhere to lie about your boss in the private sector. No media outlets. She'd have to resort to gossip, and you know where that would go.

  24. Helena and her husband and some of their staff make us look like third world amateurs. Where does Harper find these clowns.

  25. Harper should fire her for her indescretions and she should fire her staffer for exercising her right of free speech. What happened with Ruby gate nanny affair? The Liberal adscam only hit supporters and everyone knows there were elected politicians involved. Does anyone think that people who comment negatively to articles about the govt are frustrated conservatives. The Liberals have no policies so they fling dirt. They have fallen a long way from the days when they were a prty of principals,and ideas

  26. I thought staffers were supposed to spend their time working on the wikipedia article! What are they doing wasting time on some slimmy, Liberal-subsidized rag?

    • Another LOL shot from S.S. Made my morning.


    • Macleans never came across that way to me

  27. Minister Guergis,staff and most of the Ministers in Govt. are totally lost and could care less. Mr. Harper has abdicated leadership and his arrogance is spreading and he is becoming a Lame Duck.

  28. Several weeks back I wrote a comment stating that the next time we read about Rahim and Helena, it would be regarding their divorce proceedings. I was mistaken. I apologize.

    Apparently they really ARE more compatible and have much more in common than I first thought. "Radio Show Rahim" must have coached his wife in how best to dupe the sweaty masses, so they are obviously communicating at a deep and meaningful level.


  29. The PM's not being seen to sort this person out immediately after the airport fracas is bad for the party and I speak as a conservative supporter. It looks bad on the members of parliament and cabinet who are not self absorbed prima donnas or "prima donalds" as the case may be. As the English say; Send them both to Coventry.

  30. Guergis is to Conservative as Dhalla is to Liberal.

    • Excpet Rubys story was buried, where is she now? who knows.


  32. We would have something to worry about if a staffer wrote that her superior was incompetent and a thief etc. Fact that she expressed her opinion can't be a cardinal sin and holds as much water if not more than many of the comments being made by members of the media and opposition ( which may include some members of the opposition staff) who have an agenda and can be accused of exaggeration and embellishment of facts and innuendo.
    This is just becoming a character assassination and a personal attack of little substance . What can we expect next in this personal attack – an accusation that her dog raped the neighbors dog?

    • Dude – the writers should've disclosed their positions.

      There's nothing wrong with the opinion, I'm glad her staff thinks highly of her.

      • Dude – you and I pay taxes to pay for these staffers. If they're sending out letters from work, they're doing it in our name as much as they are doing it in hers.

        • A nuance, one that doesn't bother me but I take your point.

          However, even if she did it from her home computer after hours….she still should disclose. Being a government employee doesn't remove one's ability to have an opinion.

  33. As Rahim Jaffer’s lawyer and a member of the senate, I don’t believe she did anything wrong.

  34. They know nobody can prove collusion. One assumes they also know people don't actually have to see it, to be convinced that the cat crapped behind the couch; the overpowering odor is sufficient.

    • Or maybe not. I wonder if an FOI request would produce blackberry messages back and forth from HG to staffers talking about the coverage, the letters, or whatever. So far, these guys seem inept enough that this might just be possible.

    • Seems to me the PMO wrote the book on how to disrupt parliamentary committees, who's to say they didn't pen a manifesto on how to boost their image in newspapers and magazines? I wouldn't put it past them, it would probably be considered very witty and another great way to ensure their majority next time around.

  35. Obviously, the words "conflict of interest" are not part of the "transparent" conservative government du jour.

  36. Policitians lie or mislead the public and lawyers lie in court (Senator Ann Cools Bill 2-12) . What you have here is an epidemic of "entitlement" liars and no one does a thing about it including parliament or federal justice.

    How does the Banana Republic of Canada sound?.

  37. This is almost as bad as the Liberals planting senior Ignatieff strategist and former CBC lawyer Mark Sakamoto in a H1N1 vaccine line-up to complain about the Conservatives handling of the roll out.

    • I thought it "didn't phase you at all"

    • Mark and his wife were in line to get their 12 month old little boy vacinnated – it was NOT a plant, when the reporter asked he and his wife the question he responded honestly. To even suggest he dragged his wife and baby into a LONG line up to score political points is CRAZY!

      • It was absolutely a plant , and the CBC aided them as per

  38. Sarah Nolan also works for her and is known to lye about everything!

  39. Thanks Brian, NOW GET BACK TO WORK! I am not paying you for your typing skills.

    • "Slimmy"? What's that mean – a weight-watching publication?

      Oh – you mean slimy.

  40. Harper has to let this woman go back to the back benches until she is either re elected by her constituency or turfed.As a Conservative she is becoming an embarrassment to us.this is either straight favoritism or stupidity on the P,Ms part

  41. This staffer absolutely had the right to pen a letter, praising her boss, if those are her opinions. As another commenter pointed out, it means that we get to hear about an MP from someone who personally knows them.

    At the same time, the public has a right to know that it is a staffer who wrote the letter. These women should know better.

  42. I wonder how long our esteemed MSM can keep this vitally important news on the front burner ? I'll put the over / under at two weeks to start .

  43. Ms. Taber didn't bother to comment or find fault with the Liberals when they were found guilty of planting senior Ignatieff strategist and former CBC lawyer Mark Sakamoto in a H1N1 vaccine line-up to complain about the Conservatives handling of the roll out of the vaccine.
    Does she have a double standard? Did she ask for any resignation , a slap on the wrist or did she just ignore the story – after all it is a Liberal and they can do no wrong.
    However we were exposed to Wayne(doorknob)Easter and his histrionics in the House about Guergis.

    In the Sakamoto controversy Harper and Conservatives did not ask for resignations and try to blow the incident up into a big scandal – in fact the opposite was true and as you can see they deliberately downplayed it.
    What is more can't you all be impressed by the way Harper handled this controversy – he said the party will not be commenting – how different from Ignatieff and Wayne (dooknob Easter) who try to blow this minor incident into a scandal with help from a subservient media .
    At the time of the Sakamoto incident Taber's column was
    "1. The politics of H1N1. Did the Ignatieff Liberals really plant one of their own to complain on national television about the shortage of vaccine? Indeed, the accusations are flying today with the Harper PMO sending out an alert to all of its MPs, Senators and staffers urging them not to respond or comment about a news story on CBC's The National last night “in which an employee of Michael Ignatieff's office appears in a ‘street interview' as an ordinary citizen concerned about the supply of H1N1 vaccine.”

    The notice, sent via email, goes on to “urge MPs not to respond to the transparent attempt to pass off an Ignatieff staffer as a non-partisan Canadian. We will not be commenting on the incident. It is very sad and unfortunate that the Ignatieff Liberals are desperately attempting to politicize the H1N1 preparedness efforts of the federal and provincial governments.”


    • Well, Jane Taber…she is not even worth commenting about….

    • Mark and his wife were in line to get their 12 month old little boy vacinnated – it was NOT a plant, when the reporter asked he and his wife the question he responded honestly. To even suggest he dragged his wife and baby into a LONG line up to score political points is CRAZY!

    • Mark and his wife were in line to get their 12 month old little boy vacinnated – it was NOT a plant, when the reporter asked he and his wife the question he responded honestly. To even suggest he dragged his wife and baby into a LONG line up to score political points is CRAZY! And IN FACT Mark was let go and returned to his Toronto Law Firm shortly after this incident – it was a stupid thing to not introduce yourelf, your wife and your 12 month old little boy when standing in line for hours and asked a question by some reporter in line. Pretty sure he was happy to return to Toronto full time, those babies grow like weeds!

  44. So Fife is on CTV saying that Helena has a fan club, her staff….then says Helena has not been able to hang onto staffers because no one likes her.

    Which of the above is true Fife?

    You can't have it both ways. What's wrong with Fife's picture.
    Do you believe there are any Conservatives that would share party inside information with Robert Fife?

    • No. Fife makes it up as he goes along.

    • The staffers that sent the letters to the newspapers are her political staff from two of her constituency offices in the riding. These people were hand picked by Guergis (often friends and political supporters) and their jobs depend on Guergis getting elected. The "revolving door" that Fife is referring to is the non-political staff that are employed in Ottawa as part of her ministry. These people are traditional government employees whose jobs do will remain even if Guergis does not.

    • Her "fan club" consists of employees desperate to stay employed and will say anything to appease her.

  45. Hey I live in Toronto, and that makes most people assume that I'm a Layton-loving communist hippie. We all have our crosses to bear, I suppose.

  46. I just hope the Liberals don't try and ride this to the ends of the earth.
    Ask for her resignation, make sure everyone how unfit she is for the job and let it go.

  47. So CBC staffers freely exchange info with the Liberals, but it's not okay to write an unsolicited letter to the paper in support of your boss. I do have questions about the latter, but why not do something about the former as well?

  48. WOW. Is she ever dumb. And NEVER going to win a beauty contest outside the neighbourhood!!
    I don't know what she sounds like in Parliament, but that is one manufactured, fake princess-voice.

    What an act. I've got a teenager who just aced a Social Gr. 12 test, after just reading the book and missing 3 weeks of classes. She could do Guergis' job with her hands tied behind her back. I cannot believe we've got something like this in Parliament. Harper certainly likes them dumb.

  49. "Like, it's not like I work for some conceited nobody or something, I work for an MP!! Oh wait . . . OH MY GOD! Like — I was supposed to get her a latte, like – an HOUR ago!"

  50. The Liberal Leader has so little ammunition against the government, he's using the gaffs of an unfortunate Cabinet Minister. The more I hear the self righteous,snide chanting of the Opposition , and the press, against Helena Guergis, i'm pleased to give her my Vote.
    Veteran WW2

  51. It just keeps getting better and better!
    – Mercer video as a snow bunny,
    – Mexican mess up,
    – Hubby Jaffer's sweet deal
    – Losing it in P.E.I
    – Mysterious mail order MBA
    – Fake fan mail
    What's Next ???

    • …a night-vision sex video with Stockwell Day would top it off nicely.

      • Hillarious!

  52. Every government office has clipping done of all the papers in the vicinity all the time. Don't tell me politicians don't, because I won't believe you.

  53. The real problem for the PM is that more and more of us are questioning his judgement. It is a sign of weakness when the PM assumes his loyalty for his Cabinet members, whom he chose, covers up and protects inept and unnacceptable behaviour. Sorry PM, your failure to act decisively and quickly to remove this absurd player from your team reflects directly upon you.

  54. Add it all up folks…this is not a nice woman. And as far as counting on bloggers, I'm counting on what I have seen this woman demonstrate. As a female taxpayer, I find her insulting to women and I think she should have been removed from office by now. I certainly don't believe that staffers posted anything without her urging them to.

  55. Why hasn't anyone seen the article Ms. knight has written?

    Oh….because it has never been published…that's why.

  56. Gimme a break. As if anyone working for an MP for more than one minute isn't aware that what she has to say about her boss is inherently tainted by her position. I am most offended by the stupidity – first for the letter and second for the ridiculous explanations. These are the people "running" our country. Shudder ….

  57. It would not surprise me to hear Helena defend the actions of her staff by saying "everyone does this" – it's been noted by media people who monitor these blogs that many of the phrases among blogs supporting the Con/Reformers use the same phrases and messages. I always just assumed that they were steeped in the Conservative Party Website and propghanda – but many independent bloggers have suggested that there are, in fact, paid employees who spend their "free" time in Conservative MP and Cosntituency Offices on-line pretneding to be the "average" Harper voter. If Helena's Riding Association felt she needed support – they surely could have called the membership of her Riding Association and asked them to start writing letters – assuming she indeed still has their confidence. I do feel that Helena was LIEING when she claimed that she did not know of any of these letters – her office staff both in the Consituency and in her Ministry would be monitoring every time her name is mentioned, particularly in local Media.