Harper and Ignatieff on Guergis: variations on a set-piece scandal - Macleans.ca

Harper and Ignatieff on Guergis: variations on a set-piece scandal

Where’s the wounded self-righteousness? The outrage?


Faced with scandal in their circles, political leaders can usually be counted on to adopt an air of wounded self-righteousness. For an extreme example, think Brian Mulroney. He never missed a chance to act the part of a man so honourable that he can scarcely believe it when perfidy is revealed around him.

I fully expected Stephen Harper to try on his own version of that familiar guise today when he had to announce, in the foyer of the House of Commons this afternoon, that Helena Guergis has exited her job as minister of state for the status of women, her unspecified missteps now the subject of probes by the RCMP and the government’s ethics commissioner.

But the Prime Minister surprised me. Rather than acting hurt and reeling and unbelieving, he presented this as an almost inevitable turn of events—part of the routine work of a man in his sort of job. No need for long faces.

“It’s a very sad day,” Harper told reporters, not sounding at all sad. “But, you know, in this business you get the brickbats as well as the bouquets, so when you confront these things, you deal with them, and that’s what we’ve done.”

How very workmanlike of him. He asserted that he was unhappy about whatever dubious conduct his junior minister had been caught in—he offered absolutely no details—but he didn’t appear angry or even particularly put out.

“Look, of course, I’m disappointed with this,” he said. “You know, of course, we all hope in these circumstances things will resolve themselves in a way that’s satisfactory to everybody.”

Of course, of course. In these circumstances. Spot of bother. No need for histrionics. Let’s be professional, shall we? So understated was his performance that I longed a bit for the operatic quality of Mulroney’s many confrontations with the media over scandals big and small in that very foyer.

Then Harper quietly departed, and a few minutes later Michael Ignatieff made his entrance. Ah, now we’d surely be treated to a bit of the classic repertoire: opposition outrage. Is there any other way to play such a scene?

Apparently there is. The Liberal leader adopted an ambivalent tone that was, in its way, every bit as novel as Harper’s oh-well attitude.

“Honestly, I don’t think Canadians want us to get in a bear pit over this,” he said, “because basically everybody ends up being tarred by this brush. That’s the problem here. I’m being honest with you here and it’s perhaps not what you’d expect.”

He had that right. I had been under the impression the bear pit remained a sure ratings winner. Was Ignatieff really signaling that his Liberals would be made to resist the urge to exploit this opening to the full partisan extent? Actually, for all his reticence, he wasn’t going quite that far off script.

“We will pursue it vigorously,” he hastened to add after expressing his distaste for what was, in a previous news cycle, termed the politics of personal destruction. “I’m in the opposition,” Ignatieff explained further. “It’s my job to do so. That’s what the citizens put me here to do and I will do it. But I do it with no pleasure.”

So we have here that sturdy political dramatic premise, the disgraced former minister under investigation, with some nuanced improvisations from those performing the set roles. The Prime Minister, rather than portraying the affair as a shock to his delicate system, treats it as routine political drudgery. The Opposition leader, instead of throwing himself into the part of defender of the nation’s honour with traditional gusto, winces at the unseemliness of the whole matter.

It’s heartening to see such innovation and creativity in our public life.


Harper and Ignatieff on Guergis: variations on a set-piece scandal

  1. Why would Harper not have come out and simply indicate that he asked her to resign rather than use the current approach of something bad was done but they resigned. It is a small difference but he could have demonstrated more leadership.

    • Give me a break. The woman has resigned or been pushed. The manner is irrelevant. The media and the pack of wolves known as the parliamentary press gallery have destroyed her professionally and personally. They all have accomplished their goal. Now lets get back to the detainee issue that the Libs love so well. Canada must runningy pretty well when this is all the media can excised about.

      • Yes, lets all remember that Helena Guergis is not responsible for what happens to Helena Guergis.

        • Indeed, especially coming from a political party that has a tendancy to make "personal responsibility" an often touted solution for a range of problems.

          • I suspect there are some who will always blame the Liberals(or Media, depending on the day) for whatever Geurgis says or does. It's in the hardwiring.

      • Oh look, influence peddling is apparently irrelevant to Conservative trolls. How amusing.

        • I think that may reflect the fact that the person alleged to have engaged in 'influence peddling' wasn't actually a member of the government at the time he attempted to peddle influence and furthermore, he doesn't seem to have had much actual influence. Allegedly, Jaffer was persona non grata in the PMO for managing to lose a seat in Alberta that he had held for a decade in an election where the Conservatives nationally did relatively well. Does that clear things up or diminish your amusement any?

      • Isn't there anything in this affair for which Geurgis should take personal responsibility?

      • If you were honest with yourself, you'd realize her husband and her attitude brought her down. You can't keep blaming the media, and everyone else for things.

        • Not only her husband, she does have a bad attitude, she didn't have an once of humility when she apologized about the PEI incident, I do believe the husband is a major LOSER and drag her down more, but she has to be responsible for this turn of events, is not Harper's or Liberal's fault.

      • The media destroyed her professionally? Really? Wouldn't anyone with half a brain be able to see – first of all that she is in no way a professionally behaved politician? Secondly – she had a crap career before she was pushed into politics by the Tories – I don't know whether Jaffer went into it first, or whether she did – but they obviously saw them as the "glamour couple". She was a failed beauty queen contestant, with rather shady rumours around that "career" in which a woman claims to have received death threats from her. The video was posted on Macleans, I believe. She then owned a bathroom shop. Woo.

        Jaffer had himself impersonated on an Edmonton radio talk show – was arrogant enough to think that would fly, but the aide who was impersonating him was busted after one sentence. Then Jaffer, in true Tory fashion, claimed he knew nothing about it. Then the Tories, bent on having a "visible minority MP", just went ahead and promoted him – and I suppose their joy knew no bounds when he married Jaffer.

        Tories are getting everything they deserve, and it looks good on them. The corruption has stained a wide circle, not just one MP – but two MPs, and they're married. THIS is why corporations don't hire married couples or allow employees to date. It spreads problems. And then there's the question of who was Jaffer in contact with over 10 years as an MP, who was Guergis in contact with, why did she let him use her Parliamentary email – and so on. It wasn't that Harper wanted to get to the bottom of it – he probably knows he's got MPs with drinking and drug problems – but he had to finally acknowledge that he couldn't save the situation.

        Destoyed her professionally? What a hysterical laugh. She never had a profession to begin with.

      • Sure – the media has been blood thirsty. But let's not forget cause and effect, ok?

    • I suspect she did something clearly illegal. Harper came to power deriding such shenanigans and he wants her as far away as possible.

  2. It's the 'shit happens' approach.

  3. Sad that we spend so much time on such things instead of dealing with real problems.

    • The Harper government is a real problem.

      • Susan, get a life!

      • More like the apathetic, non educated public that couldn't tell the difference between anarcho-capitalism and communism.

    • I agree that we have "real problems" to deal with. But the first thing any problem needs is honest competent people with integrity and openness to deal with them. The Guergis / Jaffer affair has highlighted the fact that the Harper government is devoid of any of these necessary characteristics. Harper's judgement is lacking in that he is willing to appoint incompetent, unworthy individuals to cabinet. The CPC causcus has proved themselves spineless enough to do whatever Harper asks them, all the while badmouthing a caucus colleague and then at the drop of a hat cheering the downfall of a colleague. The voters of Simcoe-Grey and Edmonton-Strathcona have shown terrible judgement in their choice of MP, and by extension so have voters in many CPC held ridings. It is very apparent that the problem demonstrated by this incident has to be solved before any "real" problems can realistically be even consiered.

      • The voters of Edmonton-Strathcona showed excellent judgment in their current choice of MP. What part of "ex-MP Rahim Jaffer" don't you understand?

        Jaffer and Guergis have showed poor judgment in their choice of spouse, but that's a common enough failing.

    • What is sadder is that you short change Canadians by thinking they can't look at real problems plus the Guergis situattion.

      Can do more than one thing at a time.

      • I'm starting to think the problem is that the Harperites are generally short on the ability to do more than one thing at a time. And the real worry is that Canadians are starting to think that's the norm.

        Plan the budget and go to QP? Can't do it.
        Deal with Guergis and govern? Can't do it.

    • I know, you really have been thumb down in this one my friend, hahaha, we like our soap opera gossip and I am giving you thumbs up, lol!

      • This is a reply to your first post Emily!

    • It's true – partially. It's sad that there are such thugs in politics, and this is a distraction for Harper from the other questionable practises he pushes on Canadians. But – it's an indication of corruption within the Tory party – could go as far as the Mafia, who knows? It has to be cleaned up – just like the Afghan detainee question has to be cleaned up.

  4. "Defender of the nation's honour" was last month's role: Ignatieff called Guergis a "liar" (actually, a double-liar) undeserving of the confidence of Canadians because some staffers had written letters on her behalf.

    Today, when the Prime Minister has removed her from cabinet and caucus because of allegations worthy of the attention of the RCMP, it was time to dial down the rhetoric.

    And I don't know if I agree with "wincing": Ignatieff was looking positively gleeful at several points during the scrum, though he may not have been giggling outright when he provided the Conservatives with a clip for their next ad campaign: "I'm a proud member of the political class."

    • Too bad they can't put it on tax-payer funded 10 percenters anymore though, eh?

      If you think "political class" is some absurd construct, you need to revisit poli-sci 101.

      • The halting of the ten percenters is welcome news.

        "political class" may well be standard in the classroom; it will be a loser on the doorstep.

        • That vote to end the ten percenters wasn't unanimous, was it?

  5. From this, I can only assume she and/or Jaffer were redirecting public or party money to their personal benefit. Possibly through Jaffer's misrepresentation of his connections to the Government.

    Or Ignatieff has been using assumed names to write letters to news magazines…

  6. There is obviously a lot more to this dveloping story than meets the eye.
    Perhaps this explains why PM Harper and the leader of the Official Opposition, Michael Ignatieff, have taken the high road in their respective responses.
    All one can say at the moment is that PM Harper's Evangelical Christian 'values' have taught him that all human beings are capable of good and evil. Every individual is capable of making one or more serious mistakes in their lives. Harper, therefore, is not surprised that Helena Guergis may have transgressed some important aspects of her responsibilities as a Minister of the Crown. Harper displayed, belatedly, some degree of maturity in the way that he dealt with the situation.
    Michael Ignatieff, as he indicated, is simply fulfilling the responsibilities of his position as leader of the Official Opposition. He is also correct in demanding that the Prime Minister make it clear what is the precise nature of the serious allegations that have been made against Helena Guergis. Whatever Harper gained by his initial approach to the crisis will only be undermined if he refused to come straight with Canadians.

    • There is obviously a lot more to this dveloping story than meets the eye.

      No, there isn't.

      MP does some embarrassing and inappropriate things, opposition and media go into attack mode, which includes making false accusations, eventually MP is demoted due to the ongoing embarrassing and inappropriate things. End of story.

      • What planet are you visiting from again?

        When a Prime Minister fires you, kicks you not just out of cabinet but out of caucus, launches an RCMP investigation and an ethics investigation into your conduct, and refuses to say why, there is a heck of a lot more to this story.

        Not the end but the beginning of story.

        • That's it in a nutshell, really.

        • People, people, people. I know you're salivating, because you're partisans after all.

          However, what we have here is:
          -an airport tantrum
          -staffers writing letters to newspapers
          -sharing a govt blackberry with her husband
          -buying a house with no down payment (legally, according to the bank)
          -being married to a guy who was recently in court

          I'm sorry, but your high hopes of another watergate do not compare to the facts. This is the most pathetic excuse for a scandal you've managed to concoct so far. Harper is simply playing the cards he's been dealt.

          • SCF, SCF, SCF.

            Calling Harper a liar. Well, maybe there is hope for you yet.

          • So you believe that Harper's launching of the RCMP investigation and an ethics investigation is just him being vindictive?

          • First of all, he cannot launch an investigation. He can refer the matter to the RCMP. They will decide if there is reason for an investigation. And there is little doubt in my mind that there will be none.

          • Terrlbly sorry, didn't realize you were playing the pedant today.

            Are you going to similarly argue that Harper can't call an ethics investigation either?

          • No, it serves two purposes. It protects him for opposition attacks – he wants to keep a clean image of his party and this move helps portray that dedication.

            Secondly, it provides an easy way to turn the channel – he need not answer questions while the rcmp look at the issue, then later when no issue is uncovered he can use that as proof of no wrongdoing.

      • That might be the case except Harper hasn't just demoted her, he's removed her from caucus and referred some allegation — we don't know what — to the RCMP. Neither the Opposition, nor the media, seem to know why, so you can't blame them for that.

      • What?? Since when does the Prime Minister call in the RCMP because one of his ministers did something embarrassing?

        • see my comment above.

          • Why do you hate the troops?

    • Sure lets keep the charade going. Lets assume guilt before there is even an investigation. The PM is absolutely right. The ethics commissioner and the RCMP will decide whether Guergis is guilty of any further wrongdoing; not the pack of wolves occupying the parliamentary press gallery and the opposition benches. No wonder women don't want to become involved in politics.
      Iffy keeps saying it is his job to be critical. He does not say he wants to criticize or he likes it. Its his job. That's his problem. Canadians see him as not really committed to politics and is "just visiting".

      • Raheem?

      • *sigh* I shouldn't even bother but what the hell…

        How is Ignatieff doing his job proof that he is just visiting?

        • The Cons are so gullible. When Ignatieff "first" decided to run for office – if he didn't win he'd go back to Harvard. This is common for a job to be held for a period of time. Ignatieff won his riding so there was no need to go back.

          Just ask Shelley Glover – she's on leave from the police force. Her job is waiting for her.

          Harvard would not grant a leave like the police force do.

          I can't believe the crap coming out of the Con trolls. They believe whatever misinformation is sent their way without checking the actual facts. Unbelievable!

      • By the way it's been 4 years now since entered Canadian politics (slogging through the always fun role of opposition the whole time). That's turning into a pretty long visit.

        Do you think it might be time to retire that talking point?

        • Not as long as they think it gets any traction.

          Truth is irrelevant. Gut feeling is what matters.

          • "Truth is irrelevant. Gut feeling is what matters."

            …and that would be ConBot rationalization #3.

      • I'd be sad if my boss got demoted too, but don't you think you're making matters worse?

      • "No wonder women don't want to become involved in politics. "

        Ladies and gentlemen, hollinm has proudly provided us with a good example of sexism.

      • Guergis? Is that you?

  7. We have a ton of real problems, but for over a week now all the focus has been on the Dynamic Duo instead of the tsunami coming our way.

    • A cabinet minister is under investigation by the RCMP and the Ethics Commissioner and you don't think that is a real problem?????

      • Just another ho hum incident on "the hill".

        • Well, it's not 'ho-hum', it does have to be dealt with and it's never good to have cabinet ministers under investigation by the Mounties.

          I'm just saying that so much of our public life in recent years has been the 'gotcha' and 'attack politics' stuff that we've gotten away from dealing with the serious problems the country is facing.

          Helena will be forgotten by this time next year, or more likely by this time next week.

          The economic and unemployment crisis will, however, still be with us.

      • In the grand scheme of things, it's just another trivial distraction. There are serious issues facing 34 million Canadians, and the travails of Screech and Chong, entertaining as they are, matter not a whit in the real world.

        • C'mon. You know better than to peddle ConBot rationalization # 8.

        • So you know what the alleged criminal conduct was to know that it is trivial?

          How many Prime Minister's have thrown one of their own cabinet ministers not just out of cabinet but out of caucus, launched not just an ethics investigation into one of their own but a criminal investigation by the RCMP?

          That didn't even happen under Mulroney.

          So either Harper is laying it on super thick so he can pretend he is squeaky clean, or there is something very serious that we are about to find out about.

          It is astonishing how quickly ethics and accountability have become "trivial distractions". Wasn't too long ago, that those were the twin engines of Harper's flight to power.

          • So either Harper is laying it on super thick so he can pretend he is squeaky clean, or there is something very serious that we are about to find out about.

            Heh. Nice false dichotomy. Those aren't the only two options, you know. It will probably turn out to be something that is serious from an ethics perspective, but utterly trivial from a "what actually happened?" perspective. Maybe she let Jaffer send an email from her account to that dodgy businessman or something, to make it seem like he had influence.

            Anyway, I wish you best of luck in your continuing effort to milk this as much as you can. This is a great day, because she finally got the boot.

          • So you think Harper, who just over 12 hours earlier was providing her with unqualified full support, launched a criminal investigation into one of his own cabinet minister's conduct over an email? or even over a mere ethics matter?

            Either Harper genuinely thinks that a crime has been committed by Guergis or she will have one heck of an open and shut defamation lawsuit to smooth her way into the private sector.

          • So you think Harper, who just over 12 hours earlier was providing her with unqualified full support

            "unqualified full support"? Give me a break. Everyone in Ottawa knew that the PM was just waiting for an opportune time to pull the plug. Not a single person in the Conservative caucus was defending Helena, and everyone wanted her gone. The PMO was dropping extremely unsubtle hints that she should resign.

            she will have one heck of an open and shut defamation lawsuit to smooth her way into the private sector.

            Are we talking about the same Guergis? Her private sector career prospects are all but dead. If Harper didn't think a crime had been committed, it would be extremely foolish to call in the RCMP.

          • That's what makes me wonder. The hints were bloody blatant, this is true.. so.. why bother hinting? Why not take the bull by the horns, actually *show* some leadership and come out and say, "Ms. Guergis has been removed from my Cabinet due to not living up to the level of accountability I expect from my ministers, in particular with respect to her campaign expenses."

            Instead it's this, "Well, if she leaves we'll be really happy, but we're not going to pull the plug ourselves."

            Why on earth not? I mean, any organization will hire it's share of duffers. There's no getting around that, and politics is worse than most given the application process. That said, what defines a good manager/good leader is identifying those duffers and getting them out of there ASAP.. not leaving the onus on the person themselves to voluntarily step down.

          • Because Harper does not throw his MPs under the bus.
            That's why he has complete loyalty,
            and Iffy does not.

          • It's hardly throwing an MP under the bus when they've demonstrated they have poor judgment and poor self-control.

            Besides which, is this really a good thing? That MPs know they can do whatever they like and Harper doesn't have the cajones to actually fire them?

          • No, he doesn't throw them under a bus. He just kicks them out of caucus and then brings charges of criminal conduct against them.

            And let's not forget that Casey was the first example of this not Guergis.

          • Okay, this is really getting silly and desparate.

          • "If Harper didn't think a crime had been committed, it would be extremely foolish to call in the RCMP."

            That is what I'm saying. What did you think I meant when I wrote: "Either Harper genuinely thinks that a crime has been committed by Guergis or she will have one heck of an open and shut defamation lawsuit to smooth her way into the private sector."

            Too bad ethics and accountability are considered mere "trivial distractions" around here. 2006 is sooooo very long ago.

          • They shouldn't have been back then either. We all know Harper made it into a much bigger topic than it was, and now he has his own mess to clean up.

            Eventually we'll get around to running the country. I hope.

        • Sure, in the grand scheme of things, this affair isn't earth shattering.

          But it is worrying that the cabinet of Canada's federal government included Screech, who apparently exhibited some rather poor judgement. It is that cabinet which is setting the course and steering the federal government as it does it's not insignificant part to deal with the serious issues that are facing 34 million Canadians.

          It does matter more than a whit.

  8. For the country?? No.

    For Helena and hubby, yes.

    • "Education, health care, the war in Afghanistan, energy policy, those thing are the issues of importance, and I'd prefer them to be the focus. "

      And you're unable to read about these things,today, why?

      • You haven't looked very far obviously. There are articles out there about this stuff.

  9. I agree. Political scandals come and go regardless of what party is in power, and generally don't much affect people's everyday lives. Education, health care, the war in Afghanistan, energy policy, those thing are the issues of importance, and I'd prefer them to be the focus.

    • I'd prefer if the government focused on those too. But for some reason, Harper doesn't.

  10. Alright, you seem to be someone in the know so can you let us in on what the alleged criminal conduct by this cabinet minister related to because the Prime Minister won't say.

    • because the Prime Minister won't say.

      The PM can't say, as you well know, because there's an investigation by the RCMP now. Iggy tried to peddle that same line in his presser and a reporter called him on it.

      • Why can't he say? Nothing is stopping him.

        It might be inappropriate for him to discuss the details of a pending case, but there is nothing stopping him from telling us what it relates to – influence peddling, campaign expenses, whatever it is.

        Indeed, when you are the government and you launch a criminal investigation into one of your own cabinet ministers who has access to very confidential and important government documents and information, I would say there is an obligation to let us know what it relates to without providing all of the details.

  11. Better add the prime minister to your short list of persecutors. He went further than the Opposition asked by kicking her out of caucus and calling the RCMP.

    • So what's your point? Harper is a meanie?
      The point actually is ZERO TOLERANCE from this PM to Liberalike shananigans.

      • Make up your mind, wilson. Either he doesn't throw them under the bus or he does. Or was she safe from the PMO reporting her to the RCMP up until she resigned her cabinet position?

    • “She offered her resignation but obviously under these circumstances a resignation was unavoidable,” Harper said. Sounds like he pushed her under the bus! Yesterday they were claiming that it was not unusual for them to let their spouses us government supplied "devices" as if it were no big deal!! This reeks of a security "problem" yet our accountable prime minister continues to be evasive. I don't expect any better from him but I would hope Canadians will right this wrong in the next election.

  12. How has any of that prevented Harper from addressing health care, our deteriorating reputation abroad, a mismanaged relationship with the US, record setting deficits, etc.?

    The reason the media spends so much time on what you call "gotcha" politics, is because the government isn't doing anything and is deliberately choosing not to do anything about the really significant problems.

    It is hardly the opposition's fault that we have a do-nothing government.

  13. I thought it was rationalization #6. I'll have to check the list to make sure.

    • I hope those aren't the same talking points as Dimitri was reading from last night when he said that anybody trying to influence peddle would find the doors padlocked.

    • No, he's right. #6 is "If somebody else does it, then we can too."

  14. Mr. Geddes, you didn't mention the other unusual thing about Harper's response which Harper himself mentioned. Harper said he would answer a reporter's question "even though you are not on the list".

  15. I agree that Harper isn't addressing any of those very real problems, and it's because he is too busy with attack politics to even notice we have any.

    I didn't say it was the Opposition's fault.

    The media fails to do it's job in bringing the real problems to the forefront of the national agenda, and demanding answers from the govt. The average person can't do so, and the media seems to trash the Opposition when they try.

    Whatever party you support, the presentations at the recent Thinker's Conference should have sobered everyone up, but instead we were treated to a week of columnists dissing the very idea of having a conference instead of telling the country what we're facing.

    Not much the Opposition…any of them…can do with that kind of response.

    • "and it's because he is too busy with attack politics to even notice we have any. "

      See? There it is again. Apparently, the government is incapable of handling more than one file at a time.

      This would seem to be further testament to Mr. Harper's giant brain and lack thereof in the rest of the government. Sad, though, that as big as Mr. Harper's brain is, he is incapable of multi-tasking.

      Thanks for the reminder…

      • PMSH gave a speech at the Vimy Ridge ceremony today….and I imagine his afternoon and evening are booked solid to.

        He took a 15 minute break from running the country to announce Helena's resignation.
        I doubt very much PMSH had to ponder the sitiuation for more than 5 minutes to come out with his response.

        Harper is a seasoned politician (been in politics since 1984), unlike that goofy presser Iffy gave….'ex-MPs are not private citizens', gawd.

        • Sorry, Wilson.

          I just couldn't resist mocking someone who suggested that the government was too busy with 'attack politics' to pay any attention to 'important issues'.

          Sort of like, they had to prorogue to recalibrate, becacuse they couldn't govern and make policy at the same time.

          I'm just saying, it must be awfully difficult to run a country with only one brain, no matter how large.

  16. It might be inappropriate for him to discuss the details of a pending case, but there is nothing stopping him from telling us what it relates to

    Is that your legal opinion?

    The Prime Minister is being prudent and professional by not discussing what it relates to. He did say categorically that it involves only her – nobody else in government, and no federal employee of any kind.

    Whether it relates to personal expenses or her husband's misuse of her email for influence peddling purposes, we'll find out soon enough. Let the RCMP do their job.

    • "prudent and professional"

      Stephen effing Harper?


    • Nice excuse. How very convenient for him.

      No need for a legal opinion. You are the one who said he "can't" discuss it when I said he "won't" say it. I am not aware of any reason whatsover in law that says he couldn't discuss every single detail of the case. Lots of practical and strategic reasons and maybe ethical reasons why you wouldn't want to provide lots of details, but nothing says you can't provide those details. And certainly there is nothing that says you can't tell the public that the alleged criminal conduct related to X. In fact, most of the time, such announcement comes with the full allegation, like Chretien did when he referred the adscam matter to the RCMP.

      You seem to disagree with me on this so I'll ask you where it is you think the law prevents him from telling us anything at all about the alleged criminal conduct in his cabinet.

      • I'm guessing the PM probably sought and received excellent legal advice on the matter, and the lawyers probably advised him not to comment any further. Perhaps you think he should disregard their advice, but I don 't see the need.

        • So which is it CR?

          I said Harper "won't say" what the accusation is, you responded by saying "he can't say" and ignored my request for any grounds for his inability to say.

          Now you are saying he won't say because you have this insider knowledge about what his lawyers are telling him.

          He can't say or he won't say?

          You are not in the PMO yet, you don't get to make two conflictting statements on the same subject, pretend that makes any sense at all and not provide any substantiation.

          • The matter is newly under investigation; no charges have been laid, and it would be extremely inappropriate for the PM to say; ergo, he can't say. Let's not play sematic games here.

    • History shows us though, that Harper likes to throw up these kinds of blocks – "oh, can't talk about what financial consideration I offered Cadman for his vote… there is a case pending"; "Oh, can't talk about the claims of buying off Liddle for $50,000 there is a case pendign"; "Oh, can't talk about Guergix because there is now a case pending, even though I am the one that initiated the case", etc.

  17. While the CPC talking points are humorous today, what I want to know is: why is there tar and a brush in a bear pit?

  18. Is it only my hyper partisan nature – OR – does anyone else get the feeling that both Harper and Iggy are playing this file in an interesting way hmmm I get the feeling I am being tag teemed …. hmmm … I am going to pay attention to the NDP maybe their perspective might be a little more enlightening.

    • The former.

    • After the wafer, H1N1, torch relay, Olympic logo, stimulus spending, taliban prisoner comfort program, these fake scandals have not helped the opposition with the voters. (Most people don't pay attention to politics)

      It's the economy stupid and how it affect them personally. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs.. The gov't has not won or lost the public support as they have not been blamed for the global recession. They will be judged if the spending they have pushed was wasteful.

      Up until the TSTAR story nothing serious was alleged in the public domain regarding H.G. The removal and investigation demostrates a departure on how the Liberals and Conservatives handle serious allegations.

      The partisans from the other camp don't have any perspective, they think Adscam was simply an accounting error and Sheila Fraser Report regarding the breaking every rule was an taken out of context.
      The opposition strategists (recent university graduates) have been overplaying their hands on too many files.

  19. Crit_Reasoning – I just checked the list – Defending the indefensible is in fact #1!

    • So saying that the Jaffer/Guergis sideshow is ultimately trivial in the grand scheme of things amounts to "defending the indefensible"?

    • They're all "defending the indefensible."

      For the edification of all:

      # 1 is straight up denial.
      # 2 is "Canadians don't care."
      # 3 is "What's the big deal?"
      #4 is "The Liberals did it too!"
      #5 is "Adscam."
      #6 is "Adscam!!"
      #7 is "AAADSCAAAM!"
      #8 is "This is trivial in the grand scheme of things."

      …and so on, up to #27: "Well, he/she was always a Liberal anyway."

      • Hahaha I love 27….

  20. I suspect Harper is underplaying this whole thing. If indeed she is guilty of the so-called "serious allegations" (PMO's words), then some of the tar that Helena was brushed with today may find itself sticking to the PMO. In military parlance – collateral damage. Perhaps Harper just hopes that if he underplays it for the press and acts wounded, the press will leave the matter and it will all go away (as it did for Rahim).

  21. Well the tar and a brush belong to the liberals so the bare pit must belong to the conservatives and if Iggy goes into the pit with his tar and his brush the bear in the pit will teach him a lesson that he really deserves.

    • I'd say the media has been pretty active in the tarring and brushing too.

  22. I'm not sure why Geddes is suprised that Harper is throwing Guergis under a bus, that's what he does (Ambrose, Bernier, Lunn).

    • Yeah, that's why he named Ambrose to take over Guergis' cabinet responsibilities at this same press conference. In addition to the cabinet responsibilities that Ambrose already has.

      In any event, there is a time for throwing people under a bus — that'd be when they deserve it. So far, it sounds like Guergis qualifies in spades.

      If he hadn't thrown her under the bus today, just imagine the histrionic outrage we'd be hearing from the opposition, the press and their shills.

      • Except he didn't. His office had indicated repeatedly that while her resignation was much desired, they wouldn't fire her.

        It's looking like she threw herself under the bus, he just got in and spun the wheels hoping to make it look like leadership.

        • I watched his press scrum, and he said that she had to resign given the latest developments, and that if she hadn't, he would have had to fire her. Words to that effect. Who knows where the truth lies. I can't see into people's souls and/or read their minds. Perhaps you can. If so, that's quite a gift you have.

          • Oh please. The reason you had to use "Words to that effect." is because those aren't the words he used at all. He said she resigned and that her resignation was unavoidable. Nowhere did he say he'd fire her, and in fact the PMO is on record numerous times saying that they would NOT fire her, even though they'd welcome her resignation if she chose to give it.

  23. Harper either showed stupidity or lack of leadership to let this go so long.these two have been an embarrassment since Jaffer got charged .Iffy would be wise not to think that he can connect others and the P.M with culpability to criminal actions.The Liberal party has a full closet when it comes to bad deeds and they may find that out soon if this is kept afloat without proof

  24. My "take-away" from Geddes' piece here: when politicians behave like adults, the press doesn't like it.

    • Well said, no soap opera anymore….

  25. Spot on Mr. Geddes: "It's heartening to see such innovation and creativity in our public life." Equally heartening would be for the media and public not to kick someone when she's down.

    • She's a public official and was, until yesterday, a sworn member of the nation's cabinet.. Her husband – who skated on a DUI – is allegedly involved in activities which were either in violation of the accountability act, the criminal code, or both.

      If she deserves to get kicked, she gets kicked until the problem has resolved itself, whether she's down or not.

      If he deserves to get kicked, he gets kicked until the problem has resolved itself, and ditto.

      Either of the discredited parties would have rightly said the same thing if the expensed shoe was on the other party's foot.

      End of story.

      • Surely the hapless couple kicked themselves down. But does that mean others should pile on? I worry when a community turns like a vicious mob against the sinner. Guergis and Jaffer are being held to account. Let justice take its course and may the rest of society put down its stones.

  26. Harper's manner and choice of words today suggest someone who is incapable of recognizing the seriousness of an issue. This is not about compliments ('bouquets') or criticism ('brickbats'); it's about the improper and possibly illegal behaviour of one of his ministers. I suspect that if the situations were reversed Harper would be taking it much more seriously, with finger-pointing and self-righteous indignation.

    • I think that calling in the RCMP demonstrates an understanding of the seriousness.

      • Given that we don't know the details, it seems reasonable at this point to assume that Harper knew or was advised that the information he received late Thursday involved criminal activity by one of his ministers that he was required to report to the RCMP and Ethics Officer, yet he dismissed the whole sorry affair by characterizing it as 'brickbats' and 'bouquets'. There's a world of difference between his actions and his words that suggests that in his mind, the possibility of one of his ministers being involved in criminal activity is trivial – nothing more than an insult. And that seems to be a pattern that goes to his credibility – his rhetoric is so often disconnected from the reality of a given situation.

        • Uh, no, Knick. I'm as critical of the government right now as anybody, but actions matter, not words. The RCMP call was the right thing to do if there was an issue, and jumping up and down over a random shrug of a remark from a guy who just had to do a job that's grim under any circumstances is simply not fair.

          Overall, Harper's remarks were anything but lighthearted. If there's additional criticism to be laid here, it's first, why didn't they vet her for "additional allegations" earlier, and Ignatieff's legitimate questions over Jaffer's potential culpability in violations of the Accountability Act and other laws which Jaffer himself voted to enact in the past.

          • If I believed that Harper ever made a public statement that was not carefully crafted for just the right effect, I could accept your argument. In this instance the words make the actions appear to be nothing more than routine. The words used to describe this situation should reflect the gravity of a police and ethics investigation – 'brickbats' and 'bouquets' do not reflect that gravity, but rather, have the effect of trivializing what has the potential to do serious harm to the government. His choice of this wording could give many the impression that it's nothing more than a tempest in a teapot which he has dealt with – nothing to see here, move along.

            Your point about why he didn't look into this earlier is really at the heart of this matter, and that's why everything he says and does now warrants close examination. It's similar to his handling of so many other issues, from the Cadman 'offer' to the Afghan detainee issue – whenever he finds himself answerable for his actions, he redefines the issue or attacks his critics.

  27. What ever happened to innocent until proven guilty? Since PM Harper’s already decided Guergis is guilty what is the point of calling in the RCMP and the Ethics Committee? Even MP’s are entitled to due process, non?

    PM Harper: What is Guergis guilty of, pray tell.

    • Embarrassing him.

    • Um, no. Learn something about our system of government.

      For one thing, it's been tradition for decades (centuries?) that a minister under investigation steps aside or is forced to step aside to avoid tainting the government (small "g") if something is wrong. Further, as a Minister of the Crown, she's in a position to potentially influence an investigation.

      But most important: if she's being investigated for a crime, it's impossible to do her job – and her job is a privilege, not a right. It's not like she's a cashier at the 7-11 worried about her vacation pay; she is in cabinet at the pleasure of the Crown and the PM, and she represents 32m Canadians every time she opens her mouth at an event.

      The whole point of responsible democratic government is that the needs of the public should supercede the needs of a political individual. She's entitled to due process to stay out of jail, but for cabinet positions, that's another matter.

  28. I'd say that Harper, opportunistic shark that he is — probably sees this as an opportunity to demonstrate how "law and order" he is, and how willing to have the RCMP in there right sharp-like; and show how there is no way that he could be hiding info from Canadians re something like — the Afghan detainee question. !! Not Harper! Captain Canada!

    How fast can Harper wash his hands? As fast as Pilate?

    • Harper – Captain Canada! Man, I am loving that!

  29. This is the most pathetic excuse for a scandal the media has concocted so far.

    • So pathetic that your beloved PM called the RCMP? Baby this story has legs and it looks like its getting ready for a marathon! You might even say it's sexy!

      • California dreamin' baby.

    • You have a short memory

      • No I don't.

        • I was being charitable…

          And don't you think it a little odd that you're blaming "the media" for Stephen Harper's response to the Guergis fiasco? Harper doesn't strike me as the type to be easily swayed by the media. Rather, I think he's got his own reasons to suddenly decide the woman is political poison and he's leaped way ahead of the media in harshly disassociating himself from both Helena and Hubby.

          If you think the media caused this… you're simply not paying attention.

          • She committed the gaffes. The media tried to turn it into a big issue. The media did the pile-on, whining about her mortgage and whatever other false accusations they could find.

    • I think the same criteria can be applied to your brainiac like comment….

  30. At least now she do that playboy spread i always wanted to see her in

  31. I remember Alfred Alps(gutter politics) suggesting George Bush response to Katrina to Harpers' response to H1N1 and stating this was great for fundraising. Remember how they staged the drop off of extra bags for the CBC cameras than blamed the gov't on the extra bodybags and it was discovered the public nurse at a Reserve orded them? http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/otta

    • You are really getting desparate to the point of pathetic.

      Hey, Sir John A. MacDonald was terribly corrupt and use to puke his guts in parliamament from drinking his brains out – should we keep talking in the "past"?

  32. Having known Jaffer back in his up-and-coming political days as a faux "businessman" in Edmonton and from time-to-time since, it's nice to see the facade finally crumble. The TorStar has barely scratched the surface here, so happy digging!

    • Yup.

  33. Did anyone else notice how decisive Stephen Harper was? I mean, we all make decisions in our day-to-day life, but this decision was the most decisive decisions ever decided. It really speaks to his ability to decide on maters of grave importance.


    I'm sorry, I've been listening to too many Conservative supporters on CTV and CBC. Is it just me, or did they all place the word 'decisive' within five words of Stephen Harper's name every time possible?

    • Supporters of the Conservative party on CTV and/or CBC? rofl

    • The word "decisive" does not mean much. Who cares about how decisive someone is? The most important thing are the decisions themselves. I'd prefer a long though-out good decision than a quick bad one.

  34. That's funny Wayne Easter said the same thing when reporters asked him about Liberals doing the same thing on behalf of Paul Martin against Preston Manning.

    Why are you hiding from recent historical facts? No need to go back more than a few years to show gross incompetence from the Liberals.

    • Gross incompetence from the Liberals only really affects Liberals though. Whereas gross incompetence from the party currently in power affects us all.

      • I disagree.

        The opposition are not doing a good job. Are they chasing the important issue and are they prepared to fight an election if the minority government does not accept a reasonable alternative?

        The opposition are not there to only ask questions or be critical. They have another duty, introduce alternatives to the policy of the government.

      • Part 2 to incompetence no longer affecting us.

        Taliban Prisoner Comfort Arrangement by Martin not an issue today?

        The failed Maple Reactors that were to replace the Chalk River facility in 200 not an issue today?

        The $ 60 Billion ripped from EI fund not an issue today?

        I think several files that were not handled well have been an issue we are dealing with today.

  35. Was it just me or did anyone else notice that Harper mispronounced Helena's surname? Was this an attempt to make it appear that he doesn't really know her all that well and is using this as a tactic to put distance between them?

  36. Greasy Politicians 1
    Drunken Cokeheads 0