Fan mail -

Fan mail


As our Cathy Gulli reports, another employee of Helena Guergis has been found to have penned a supportive letter to the editor—this one received by Maclean’s two and a half weeks ago in response to this story.

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.”

After the jump, the full text of Ms. Knight’s note.

Dear Sir/Madame

I just finished reading your article about the “power couple, unplugged”. If I am not mistaken it was your magazine that deemed them to be a “power couple” but I don’t see any mention of Helena Guergis accomplishments.   In March at the UN Min Guergis along with 2 other ministers (one from Mexico and one from Austria), were given an award for their commitment to the Global Network of Women’s Shelters; February 2010 Min. Guergis was speaking at the Economic Club in Toronto. While there the Women’s Post presented her with an award for going above and beyond in helping others, in her community and other women, Flare magazine recently recognized her for leadership and commitment to Equal Voice and  in 2009 the Women’s Business Enterprise Council presented her with an International Luminary award for her outstanding works with We Connect Canada.

Power couple – I don’t know. Smart, hard working, accomplished – you bet.

Valerie Knight


Fan mail

  1. It must be a very precious ass to have been working so hard and kissed so well.

  2. accomplished – you bet.

    She meant to say "you betcha," right?

  3. OK, I admit it – my real life identity is Helena Guergis.

    • We all knew it, Mike T. The tantrums. The shoe throwing. The pseudonyms singing your praises, like jarrid and wilson. The signs are all there.

    • Frack off, I'm Helena Guergis!

  4. I like the reason the other staffer gave – she is a voter. Her boss is a voter too and one who doesn't seem to instil professionalism in her staff.

    • Nice try, Helena!

      • This one falls at the feet of the reporter. The reporter approached a guy in a line-up. Guy in line up is not obliged to provide a resume for a six second sound bite. Which he did not initiate.

        Now, if the guy had walked up to the reporter asking to comment, that would be the same thing.But, as the link makes quite clear, that's not what happened.

        • Not at all. This falls at the feet of the CBC staff that put this report together. Given how high profile an employee he must have been to be qualified to land a senior advisory role in the OLO, there is no way that somebody, whether it be the reporter, producer, editor, etc., didn't know exactly who this individual was.

          • Seriously? I wouldn't know 90% of the people I work for if I saw them on the elevator. Which I never do, cuz they have their own elevator. Or possibly a private helipad.

            But again…he wasn't pretending to be someone else. He was asked for his opinion, and gave it.

          • My observation is that being a "senior advisor" means just graduated from high school.

    • And Gunter is the epitome of unbiased reporters, right?

  5. Question: Does everyone think the issue is that, as a staffer, the person in question is paid to work for Geurgis? Is it that they're not identifying themselves? For instance, if a friend/family member of Ms. Geurgis were to write a letter to the editor defending her, would that still be the same ethical grey area? I'm curious as to where people's anger (annoyance is probably a better word I suppose) comes from on this.

    • The issue for me is that she is not identifying herself as a Guergis staffer; in fact she and the other one is compounding the problem by using alternate names to hide their true identities.

      • I agree with john g to an extent. But at which point does ties to a particular party preclude an individual from having and offering impartial opinions?
        I tend to lean left and as such tend to find fault with much of what this current government does, and would likely say so were a camera pushed in my face for comment on any particular issue. I have no fomal ties to the Liberal party -yet.
        But then what *if* I did have ties? If I got so fed up with the current government that I started volunteering, donating, etc for an opposition party. Does that make my opinion in any man-on-the-street interview illegitimate?

        • Just a volunteer or a donor? Not a problem.

          Employed in the Minister's office and changing your name to hide your identity? Big problem.

          Employed in the OLO and a former high ranking employee of the CBC, commenting as a man on the street on the National? Big problem.

          For me, the threshold is either employment with the party/minister, or candidacy, and even former candidacy. These things should be disclosed.

          • Main difference: The "man on the street" wasn't hunting for media attention and disguising his identity. He was, in fact, on the street. Approached by a reporter.

            And believe me, after you've done your 50thvstreeter, you make happy noises when someone doesn't run away from you.

          • Come on M_A_N…the guy was a former CBC lawyer, who left to work in Ignatieff's OLO. We're obviously not talking about some junior nobody. It is beyond credibility that someone at the CBC putting together the report for The National didn't know exactly who he was when the report went out.

          • Again, he was NOT seeking publicity. he didn't disguise himself to get airtime. He was not involved in a fraud to get publicity. he was, and remains, a man on the street.

            Don't make me go all "fredom of speech" on ya here.

          • Your gradient of culpability is reasonable. However, the CBC has a pretty solid wall between church (programming, news, creative dept's, production, etc.) and state (legal and business affairs and those matters not managerial of 'church'.) There are degrees of blurriness in the boundaries, but the wall exists nonetheless.

            It's not likely that an on-air, beat-ish reporter would have a great degree of familiarity with someone in legal, three floors up (or down). And, the gentleman in question's name – his real name – was there on the chiron for all to see. In post, it ought to have been questioned, but these segments are assembled rather quickly.

    • Source of my distaste: employee of government of Canada and Minister in question: publicly defends Minister; fails to identify self and effectively obscures relationship to public payroll and Minister.

      By all means defend someone in which you believe. But when you work for the government (as opposed to the public service) then you need to be upfront with who you are when you jump into political matters.

      The even more nagging and troublesome issue is the potential Ministerial knowledge – before or after the fact. We'll never know, but either would be a very serious breach of the standard expected of Ministers.

    • I'm under the belief that Arms length compromises should be declared.
      It's not an exact science, depending on the relevancy of the topic.
      Geurgis family should (and do) be able to speak their minds about political issues freely.
      However, if they are referring to something specific with Helena or her riding, they should not misrepresent themselves as a regular joe blow.

    • It's a conflict of interest. The issue is not that she's not entitled to her opinions. The issue is that she, as Ms. Guergis' employee, has a very direct financial interest in Helena's electoral success or failure that other friends/family members don't necessarily have.

      Ms. Craven most certainly can write letters to the editor. But by not identifying her position when doing so, she is misrepresenting the perceived premise on which those letters are sent – she is not affected merely as a voter in Simcoe-Grey, she is much more directly affected as her employee.

  6. Stick a fork in her, shes done.

    • Throw a boot at her, she's done.

  7. Source of Distaste: Indv'l paid from public funds; publicly defends Minister; fails to identify self as employee of Minister and government of Canada.

    By all means have the courage to defend someone you believe in, but doing so whilst trying to effectively obscure your relationship and your connection to the public payroll is just plain wrong.

    Then there is the potential issue of the Minister's knowledge – before or after the fact – of the letters. Either way even more inappropriate for a Minister of the Crown.

  8. Anyone that knows how Federal politics works ( including the Liberals here ) know full well that the main 2 reasons why someone like Guergis has a cabinet position are geography and gender.

    Harper probably has 50 other MP`s ( including several women ) who would be much better than Guergis in her role, and would not attract the negative press she seems to have around her.

    I`m sure Harper has already decided on her demotion; but her sins are not great enough that she shoud be fired immediately so maybe if the negative press would just die down for a few weeks , you would get your wish.

    • Harper has not fired a single CabMin yet. He is very generous with taxpayer's money. In fact, given his precarious standing in the polls, if anything, Guergis may be promoted.

      • Oh, there will be no promotion there. When the time is right, a subtle message will be sent to Guergis.

        • Agreed. She's a dead Cabmin walking. I suspect Harper is either waiting for her to fall on her sword, or waiting to bury her demotion in a larger cabinet shuffle, and doesn't want to be seen as surrendering the pound of flesh the media is demanding.

          • Still – not fast enough. This trash really stinks….

  9. Yes, but does she support the troops?

  10. The accomplishments reads like the cv of a beauty queen in which she lists all the pageants/trophies she's won.

  11. Live by the sword – die by the sword – say I!
    A perfect example – In the early days of her first term – what was essentially a municipal issue (cocerning heritage status for an old building) got inflated into a hot story that had Helena and her provincial Tory counterpart – Jim Wilson – calling a joint press conference. They both used that particular bully pulpit to heavily politicize – with cheap shots at the McGuinty government Heritage Minister of the day – (who was already working with the local mayor to do what could be done to make this happen) for what was simply an exercise in calm negotiations with a thrid party involved. I approached Helena – as an elected apparachik of the riding Liberal party – and politely asked her to agree to address this as a non-partisan issue – and not to politicize it (I had already given up on Wilson – who politicizes everything)!
    Helena jumped on Wilson's bandwagon – got a few column inches of exposure – set the negotiations back best part of a year (they were eventually concluded successfully with the active help of the local mayor and the minister).
    I'd call her a dumb blonde – but I have no idea what colour her hair is today!

  12. One thing about all this is you notice the almost fanatical loyalty these Cons staffers have towards their minister who is employing them and the Conservative government overall. Their views are not a lot different from typical Kool-Aid conservatives on here…. a very ideological right-wing group we have here.

    • In fact, are we sure there is no overlap between staffers and commenters?

      • Continuing the declaration meme of days past, I am not, nor have I ever been, a card-carrying member of any political party. And I despise the taste of kool-aid, for the record.

        I think Scott is right that this is about a misguided sense of loyalty. It's been my experience that such loyalty isn't just restricted to Conservatives though, so let's all stop with the branding already.

        We get the point, it was disingenuous to write letters without disclosing their title, as it's important information to the reader and editors who can assess whether or not the comments are still as valid as if written by one of the plebes, so to speak. But individuals' married names are not "pseudonyms" nor are they "frauds".

        • LynnTO is once again showing she is the voice of good sense around here. Most of us blurp out opinions without much thought….LTO seems to look at all sides.

          • Go ahead and include yourself in the "us" — but please exclude me. Thank you.

        • "it was disingenuous to write letters without disclosing their title"

          It wasn't disingenuous. It was unethical. I don't see any point in trying to downplay it.

    • "One thing about all this is you notice the almost fanatical loyalty …. Their views are not a lot different from typical Kool-Aid conservatives on here ….. "

      Takes one to know one? Do you have any idea what Valerie Knight political thoughts are and how they are similar to other Conservatives within the party or conservatives here at Macleans? What are Ms Knight's thoughts on abortion, third world aid and women shelters and how are the same/different than mine?

      I especially like the "very little time for accepting criticism of their heroes" when you take the time to pile on without adding a thing to this discussion. Please tell us how young Con staffers are any different than the young staffers working in Iggy's office and profiled in Macleans a few months ago.

      • My guess would be that they are much more clever at hiding their true identities, no?

  13. I think it is time to loosen up people. Think of how much fun Ottawa would be if all the pols had friggin' spokespeople.