The Commons: A mysterious stranger enters the story

Allegations about Guergis “came forth from a third party”

by Aaron Wherry

The Scene. Michael Ignatieff did not seem particularly enthused about the subject matter, but as he clarified for reporters afterwards, this is his job now and this is the place where these matters are meant to be aired.

“Mr. Speaker, on Friday the Prime Minister fired a minister, kicked her out of caucus, called in the RCMP and the Ethics Commissioner, and Canadians still do not know why,” he reviewed, trying to sound as serious as possible. “There are serious allegations surrounding the conduct of this minister, but we still do not know what they are. When will the government tell Canadians the truth?”

The government turned here to John Baird, their all-purpose refuter and obfuscationist. He did not, quite surprisingly, provide a date upon which the opposition could expect the truth to be tabled.

“Mr. Speaker, as the Prime Minister reported to Canadians this past Friday, allegations came forth from a third party,” Mr. Baird said, solemn and sober. “Those allegations were forwarded to officials at the RCMP and with the office of the Ethics Commissioner here in Ottawa. The RCMP and the Ethics Commissioner will come to their own conclusions, as is proper on this issue.”

Unfortunately, it was unclear to which prime minister Mr. Baird was referring. His prime minister, Stephen Harper, made no reference to this third party in his official statement last Friday. Nor does it appear the Prime Minister invoked any such mysterious source in speaking with reporters Friday afternoon.

The Liberal leader gave it another go. “For six long weeks the Prime Minister has got up and said she is doing a great job, and then ‘Hey, Presto,’ from Thursday night to Friday morning, he called in the RCMP,” Mr. Ignatieff recounted, creatively imagining Mr. Harper’s reaction. “Why?”

Mr. Baird broke character just long enough to smirk that he and Mr. Ignatieff had a difference of opinion before once more raising the spectre of the third party on the grassy knoll.

“Mr. Speaker, once again,” the Liberal leader pleaded, “who is the third party referred to in the minister’s reply?”

Mr. Baird repeated himself in reply. The Liberal benches yelped and Mr. Ignatieff waved for quiet.

The Liberals pressed on, apparently eager to make a prosecution of the matter. ”Mr. Speaker, let us get specific,” Anita Neville helpfully offered. “The Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities is responsible for administering the $1 billion green infrastructure fund. On September 3, 2009, the minister met with Rahim Jaffer in Ottawa. What did they discuss and were those discussions reported to the Commissioner of Lobbying as required by law?”

“Ohh!” the Liberal chorus sang.

“Mr. Speaker,” Mr. Baird explained, “I am happy to confirm to the members of the House that Mr. Jaffer never made any inquiries with respect to his business.”

Quite surprisingly, the opposition side was not thus persuaded to stand down. ”These are the same answers we heard from Mr. Chrétien and Mr. Gagliano,” Gilles Duceppe huffed with perhaps the afternoon’s cruelest blow.

The government side was mostly quiet. Ministers and backbenchers found themselves quite preoccupied with their Blackberries and paperwork. Few seemed to be paying enough attention to shout an appropriate heckle.

Jack Layton ventured a question on nuclear weapons, but after struggling to pronounce the word proliferation, he too turned to the more easily enunciated matter of Helena Guergis. ”Mr. Speaker,” he advised, “the government has got to provide answers now so that we can put this sordid business aside and start to deal with the important issues affecting Canadians.”

John Baird seemed to agree that we should all move on, if not that it was his duty to provide answers.

Liberal Marcel Proulx stood with a bulletin of sorts. Mr. Jaffer had apparently attended a reception for the wife of the Minister of Finance. The Minister of Finance, as a supportive husband, was also present. Had Mr. Jaffer, Mr. Proulx wondered, lobbied the Minister?

“Mr. Speaker, if that was the second round, the best that the Liberal Party has to offer, or in the case of the member, the second best that the Liberal Party has, I really shake my head,” Mr. Baird responded, making sure to shake his head as he spoke so that his statement might be both literally and figuratively true.

Mr. Proulx tried again. The former minister of natural resources was also present at this reception. Had Mr. Jaffer, Mr. Proulx wondered, discussed anything with that minister?

“Mr. Speaker, Mr. Jaffer is in private life now,” Mr. Baird testified. “If the member opposite has any serious allegations to bring forward with respect to this case, I would expect that he should put any evidence on the floor of the House of Commons right now.”

Up now came Mark Holland, the dogged Liberal charged with making closing arguments. At the sight of the opposition critic, the Conservatives could no longer contain themselves, taunting and howling and mocking one of their least favourite Liberals. With his second question, Mr. Holland leaned forward, jabbed the air and emphatically pronounced his condemnation.

“From redacting documents, shutting down Parliament, to firing critical watchdogs and attacking the independence of the public service, the government loathes accountability. If a fact does not fit its rhetoric there is not a word it will not black out, an institution it will not shut down or a truth it will not conceal,” he sang.

“A minister was removed, a criminal investigation has begun and these are serious allegations that demand answers. Accountability is not an Act that was passed four years ago. It is the actions that are taken right now. What is the nature of these allegations?”

This was good stuff. At least for sheer entertainment’s sake.

Mr. Baird was humbled, or at least determined to seem so.

“Mr. Speaker,” he demured, “I do not share the opinion of the member opposite with respect to his conclusions on this issue.”

The Stats. Helena Guergis, 17 questions. Afghanistan, six questions. Fisheries, three questions. Democratic reform, ethics, trade and the environment, two questions each. Employment, Haiti, infrastructure, crime, book sales and taxation, one question each.

John Baird, 16 answers. Christian Paradis, six answers. Peter MacKay and Gail Shea, four answers each. Peter Kent and Peter Van Loan, two answers each. Jean-Pierre Blackburn, Bev Oda, Diane Finley, Rob Nicholson, Mark Warawa, James Moore and Leona Aglukkaq, one answer each.

The Commons: A mysterious stranger enters the story

    • His own behavior, sadly.

    • Is there anything Mr. Baird CAN'T redact? ….obviously your typing finger.

  1. Wasn't it the same Mr. Baird who had dinner with a mayoralty candidate?

    Afterall, he is the kingpin of the green fund. I don't believe him especially when he speaks in low tones. Something is amiss with this whole EAP and is open to misdirection of funds.

    • Sort of like the ActionPlanAdscam slush fund to keep conservative media afloat.

  2. Way to go John B. … what a hoot I remember when Chretien was trudeaus attack dog – the standard response was = am a bizee man – ah donnn haf time for dis!

    • psiclone, I don't usually agree with you, but that was funny. LOL

      • I will admit – that was pretty good!
        Less angry dog psiclone, more zinger psiclone!!!

    • "ah donnn haf time for dis!"

      "Haf?" Is Chrétien German now?

      If you're going to mock people's accents, get it right. It should be "'I doan 'ave time fer dis."

      • LAME.

      • Thanks for the "value-add", Tiggy. However, I'm not sure Psiclone needs to be lectured by someone who spells "peed" with an apostrophe.

  3. "My friends, I tell you, long gone will be the days of the revolving door that is parliament."

    uh huh

    • That's because everything now revolves in and out of the PMO.

      • I was going to say, "Give them time. It's going to take them more than just 4 years to destroy Parliament".

  4. "all-purpose refuter and obfuscationist"

    Surely this is on Baird's business card.

    • Is there some form of professional accreditation for this?
      Where does one master the art of the cock block?

  5. Why attribute the information to 'a third party'? Why not just say that it was no one connected in any way to the Harper party? Would the RCMP be 'a third party'?

    Also, a spokesperson for the Ethics Commissioner said today that they are not aware of an official RCMP investigation (the Ethics Commissioner is prohibited from investigating a matter under criminal investigation). The RCMP has already confirmed that they are conducting an investigation. So, what was the point in also asking the Ethics Commissioner to investigate, and why don't they know about the official RCMP investigation?

    It's all sounding more and more like the fancy footwork of the Afghan detainee song and dance.

    • It's possible there are two separate matters involved, one that was referred to the EC and one to the RCMP.

      • Apparently that's the case according to subsequent news – Ethics is investigating influence peddling, which is a nasty business, but hardly calls for the expulsion of the spouse of the alleged influence peddler from the caucus. So now the question is, what kind of activity requiring an RCMP investigation would involve expulsion from the caucus?

    • Wearing your tinfoil hat today I see.

    • Maybe it was a "lady of the evening". Bets.

  6. Obviously Mr. Baird is doing his job very well. What is that job? To get under the skin of the opposition and their sycophants on this board. Way to go John.
    The fact is the government cannot say or do anything that could compromise the RCMP investigation. Full stop. You all know that but your partisanship will not allow any of you to acknowledge and simply let the process unfold. In due course all be revealed if anything turns up that is criminal in nature.
    The media is having a feeding frenzy on this issue and that is good. Canadians are watching and watch the Lib poll numbers fall in the next round of polling. They always go way too far.

    • Is Mr. Baird a fair boss, or does he make you go get coffee when you don`t want to?

      • uh?

    • Wrong, hollinm. As an MP explained during Question Period – when an RCMP investigation came up during Mulroney's tenure – he made sure that all the details were clear, and transparent.

      That's what happens when you have a lawyer for PM, and not a (koff koff) Fischer-Price Economist.

      • Less economist adn more a career politician.

    • I think to be a sycophant you have to be the one who is going along unreservedly with the one in charge. And looking around on this board that would seem to be you hollinm.

    • Nice to know that the job of a government minister is to irritate other people, not to run our country. Forget things like accountability, transparency, etc.

      And you may be unaware, but there is no legal reason for them to not disclose the nature of the allegations. Full stop. If a member of our democratically elected government, subject to rule of law (at least hypothetically), has committed a serious enough crime to warrant calling in the RCMP, we, the voting public, have the right to know why.

      For the record, I would say the same thing no matter which party had a (former) member under RCMP investigation. I'm guessing you wouldn't. This isn't about principal for you or the party you support because there is no principal to defend. It is simply about partisanship and playing games instead of focusing on governing.

  7. Harper said additional information has come to the government's attention. That could imply a third party. It was not explicit but Baird has now clarified.That should make Wherry and the gang happy.

    • Sounds like the third party is the RCMP and god help us if they are the same people who botched up the air India investigation, lied about the Mahar case or covered up truth in the taser matter. It's come full circle now. In the end I suspect miss whatever 1992 will get a cash payout at the taxpayers expense.

  8. “I do not share the opinion of the member opposite with respect to his conclusions on this issue.”

    Unusually civil for John Baird. strange

    • He's been strangely civil a lot lately. What have they done with the real John Baird?

      • The all went to "human rights" seminar to recalibrate for their last kick at the can to convince the voting public that they have matured as political leaders but it's all staged and I doubt they will be able to sell themselves in the coming fall election when all the reports are due for the voters consumption. They have starved us of the facts so we are now hungry for the truth.

  9. Yikes. What if there's a Jaffer/Baird sex tape?

    • OY!! My eyes!

  10. Libs are simply fearful that they will never find out what the allegations are, should the RCMP say there is nothing to investigate……they lose the opportunity of a good drive by smear.

    So Harper did the right thing, let the RCMP prove the allegations are untrue or true, anything less would never have satisfied the Opps.

    But a real scandal just hit the news, Liberals …cash…funnel back into Liberal Party coffers….sound familiar?
    But the 'big Liberal donors select judges' is a real juicy twist, eh
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/queb

    • Interesting. So, in the case of the federal Tories it's important that we keep the name of the accuser and the nature of the allegations secret until the RCMP can investigate. In the other case, where a known Liberal makes an accusation of wrong-doing, we should just assume it's true.

      Also, are you really attacking the only viable federalist alternative to the PQ?

      Why do you hate Canada wilson?

    • Quebec's provincial Liberal party is not the same party as the federal Liberal Party. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.

  11. I don't understand the point of having this government. They never, ever answer questions. I would say that they're constantly working towards making Question Period unworkable, so that Harper can further his goal of getting rid of Parliament altogether.

    Bunch of slimeballs; there's a lot of smelly smoke coming from that side of the House – and where there is smoke, there is fire. Always. Like – cocaine fire (it is flammable), Mob fire, outrageous expense-account fire.

    Are MPs taxed on their expense accounts? Raitt for the $9000 lunch she had at that steakhouse?

    • Oh, please, get over this argument, you want to make it sound like Harper is some evil man trying to take over the world !

  12. Bollywood connection — heard it here first.

  13. Every time I slip up and click on a QP report, I am compelled to think of it as a live action, street corner theatre version of Doonesbury, written during the really bad years…

    It is time for voters to demand change. Make the children sit quietly and write a 500 word essay, with proper punctuation and grammar, laying out what they are willing to be held to account for that day. And we, the babysitters, er, teachers in that scenario will use the time productively to market our childhood on Ebay…

  14. "…and then ‘Hey, Presto,' from Thursday night to Friday morning…"

    Wait, Presto? Presto who?

  15. Helena Guergis: 17 Questions

    And we all believe that a better speaker will restore parliament?

    What a waste of time. Everybody should be embarassed by this display.

    • Amen to that!

      • How odd -1 for my comment, -2 for you agreeing with it!

        • Hahaha, it figures!

    • Seems like it could have been less had the Government answered the question the first time. Its actually quite simple: one side asks a question, the other side answers a question. Too bad the Government spends so much time covering up corruption that they don't have time to answer questions about governing Canada.

      • Hey I said everybody – the government side has some responsiblity for answering some questions AND they certainly don't win the decorum or productivity award in the house.

    • We'd all love to know if this is, indeed, a waste of time. However, we don't know what the accusations are, so we don't know if it is a waste of time. How can anyone determine that this is a waste of time without knowing? If they'd just let us know the nature of the accusations, we'd be able to react more appropriately to this.

      Now, that's not to say that other parties aren't going to react inappropriately, but we have a right to know about abuse of power. In fact, finding out about (and punishing) abuse of power is one of the few things that separates us from totalitarian governments.

      If the charges are insignificant (in the grand scheme of things) and don't go beyond those two sociopaths, then we should hear about it and move on. However, if this involves influence peddling, or other members of government, it is a serious matter of public interest. The problem with what the CPC are doing is that with no information, a lot of us start assuming the worst. Why keep it secret if you've already ejected her from the party? Won't this just blow over long before an election if it's insignificant?

  16. A real whodunnit mystery we've got going on here. Drugs. Busty hookers. Third parties.

    Good thing we've got the moral values people in there to clean this up, eh?

    • There will be more…..
      Soon, we will have the Jaffer/Guergis sex tape, filmed in a broom closet within the HofC on her blackberry.
      Heard it here first folks…. ;)

  17. I am getting sick of his comment,"let me be perfectly clear. Baird is noting but a rabid bull dog . He is the most simple unattractive species of a human being and belongs in a lions den.

    I can't believe the media isn't following up on these insults to canadians and thereprospective customers. I suppose they are making enough money from the Cons party to stay afloat but watch out when they are defeated, they will have no one to pay their bills and will end up belly up like the rest of the pack declaring bankruptcy.

  18. He Wilson, if you can't tell the difference between a provincial and federal party, you had better enroll in a school and learn a little about governments and democracy. All blow and spin with and no idea what you are talking about. Even my grade school children know the difference.

  19. such a group of bafoons, lies lies lies- get on with it and get the important things done.

  20. ""…I really shake my head,” Mr. Baird responded, making sure to shake his head as he spoke so that his statement might be both literally and figuratively true…" Chapeau, sir!

  21. Why doesn't some intrepid reporter just ask Ms. Geurgis what she is under investigation for? Surely the RCMP would at least tell her what its all about and surely a public official would want to be open and transparent about a matter that her own reputation hangs on.

  22. The Sarah comparison is laughable. They both are former paid for in advance beauty queen contestants,
    They know a scam when they see it but they participate anyway……it's all about trusting good judgment, both ladies make the rest of us look bad. Women should fight this types of female. Rona is no better. She has a proven bad record but she is now covering the status of women file? Shameless lack of leadership or lack of talent in the government pool? Both.
    It's obvious what she is being investigated for. Her name came up on a list made by the RCMP of people of interest while investigating the fraud matter out of Toronto. Is it possible that she and her hubby are victims here? Has the ActionPlan been hyjacked?

    • Yes, that would exlain why Harper took the unprecedented move of kicking her not just out of cabinet but right out of caucus, of referring the matter to both the RCMP and the Ethics Commissioner, and not providing us with any details at all. Right.

      • For an update…..that is exactly why Harper did what he did…….throws the book at Helena but with torture he needs more proof…I would be laughing at this joker if I didn't know that he was going to make my son's future costly but the writing is on the wall now and it's worth a few tears.

  23. I certainly glad that there's nothing else of importance in Canada that our elected ones need to deal with. Fortunately, our federal budget is in surplus, there's no waiting time for every kind of treatment we may need for our health, our education system is overflowing with teachers, books and other resources and everyone that wants a job has two to choose from.

    It's great to be a Canadian!
    http://viableopposition.blogspot.com/

  24. Since when is it reasonable to expect public figures to comment on the details of an ongoing criminal investigation?

    From what I've seen of Ignatieff lately, I don't expect him to acknowledge this salient fact. From some of our more reasonable commenters, on the other hand, the reaction is disappointing.

    • income trusts…….

    • Who is looking for details? How about a detail, like what it pertains to, as is usually done.

    • Well, the B.C. Soilicitor General just stepped down because he is under investigation by the RCMP. And he said it was about the last provincial election. We now know it is to do with certain targeted campaigning. He's not complaining.

      • Turns out that Harper is just covering his parties ass and thinks that by calling the cops he shows good judgment but in fact this Helena matter shows what an empty talking head this man can be. His poor judgment shown by his support first and then throwing her to the wolves over not too much other than what a "Private" investigater says is classic, who is this guy and how is it that he is able to get the ear of the PMO when torture by the DNS over in Afghanistan did not?

  25. The CBC have interviewed the private investigator and he claims that he was investigating Jaffer's friend in a fraud matter and that he informed the PMO of this friendship but did not report any wrong doings of Helena. It appears that the PMO did not disclose the wrong doings referred to the police because there really was nothing to report other than a shady friendship. This certainly is not a criminal offense but it certainly tells us Canadians how far this PM will go to cover his own ass. Perhaps when Helena proved to be an idiot at that airport the PM should have taken action but instead he takes action on matters that are out of his realm then he wants to be viewed as doing the right thing, he did the exact opposite and I think the voting public should take note: I smell a big fat payout to Helena that she does not deserve but will receive when she claims "her charter rights" were violated. What about the rights of all Canadians to be protected from abuse of public money?

  26. sorry for the rambling!

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