Tuesday, April 13, 2010

More Contempt for Parliament: Conservatives Stall for Time on Guergis

I’ve been taking some time off lately, to prepare for Earth Day, which comes early to Sudbury (on Saturday, April 17th, at Market Square! Hope to see you there). So, for those of you wondering what’s become of me in the past few weeks, now you know.

It’s not as if there hasn’t been a lot to blog about. Today, though, I’m going to focus on subject material that I really didn’t have much of an interest in, figuring that the blogosphere has already been quite atwitter over it all already. Yes, I’m talking about ex-Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer and MP Helena Guergis, who was up until last Friday the Minister of State for the Status of Women. I’m not going to re-cap this whole situation for you. Instead, I wanted to focus on events which have taken place since Friday, when the Prime Minister "referred" certain allegations pertaining to Guergis over to the RCMP and Ethics Commissioner. As you know, Guergis has been kicked out of the Conservative caucus, and is now sitting as an Independent in the nether-reaches of the House (actually, I understand that she’s still on a beach somewhere in the tropics).

Since the brief statement late last Friday afternoon, there has been little information regarding what prompted Harper to accept Guergis’ resignation to ask for investigations. Given that the request went to the Ethics Commissioner, Mary Dawson, there had been speculation that the allegations pertained to an ethical situation which Guergis might have found herself involved in, which may have had legal implications, given the RCMP’s involvement. Given that there have been recent suggestions in the media that her husband, Rahim Jaffer, had been telling potential business clients that the had special access to the government for funding, there has been some suggestion that maybe the allegations Harper received on Friday had to do with influence peddling.

Thing is, though, here we are four days later, and no one really knows why there’s a cloud hanging over Guergis’ head. Since then, opposition parties have been looking for answers during question period, only to find none. The only new information which seems to have come to light so far is that the allegations were made by a third party, who is not an MP or someone who works for the government, which doesn’t rule out all that many people.

Earlier today, Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson announced that she would not be investigating Guergis, because there hasn’t been anything brought to her attention which would warrant an investigation. Plus, Dawson indicated that she can’t investigate anyway while the RCMP is investigating. The RCMP haven’t hinted at anything at this point, but one must think that since the matter was referred to the RCMP by the Prime Minister, they’re likely looking into it. Usually, though, the RCMP keeps the specifics of investigations under wraps while the investigation is on-going.

So, in the House we have Conservatives refusing to answer questions about what, exactly, Helena Guergis might have or not have done which warranted her removal from cabinet. Questions aren’t being answered because the matter is under investigation. The investigators aren’t talking, because they’re investigating, at the behest of the Conservative Prime Minister; one of the investigators has already dropped the matter because there wasn’t anything there to be investigated.

And we Canadians are growing more and more despondent with a government which refuses to provide answers for its actions. That’s what has me really ticked about this whole matter. That and the fact that parliament’s precious time is being wasted on what really should have been something cleared up by the Prime Minister or his spokesperson in the early goings fo question period yesterday afternoon. Instead, the Cons are mum, because the matter is under investigation.

Look, I’m no fan of Helena Guergis, but whatever is going on sounds like it may be serious, given the Prime Minister’s actions. As a Canadian, I have a right to know why a member of government has essentially been forced to resign from her position. I want to know why there is a cloud hanging over the head of a sitting MP. But, as long as the Conservatives presume that they are unable to discuss the matter while the RCMP are investigating, I’m not likely going to find out.

This all stinks. Yet again, the Conservative government is trying to get away with providing Canadians with no explanation regarding its actions. And it’s not just us Canadians out here in the blogosphere who are being denied answers, it’s Parliament itself, which the Conservatives have an obvious contempt for. What’s been going on with regards to withholding information related to the Afghan detainee issue is disgusting in the extreme, and now they’re at it again with Helena Guergis.

I suspect that some of the answers might come out eventually, but unless the RCMP actually lay some charges, we’re not likely ever going to get the full story here. Given that the Ethics Commissioner has already backed off, I have my doubts that the RCMP will be laying any charges. Which would then lead to the following questions: if the accusations on which Guergis was forced to resign aren’t enough for a legal or ethical investigation, why did the Prime Minister refer the matter to the RCMP and Ethics Commissioner? Was he simply trying to stall for time in answering questions swirling around Guergis and her husband Jaffer? If so, boy, that’s a pretty low partisan game being played with parliament and the Canadian people.


Sudbury Steve said...

So today the suggestion is that Guergis is gone because of drugs! http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/795053--guergis-denies-drug-report-as-rumours-gone-amok?bn=1

She denies this, and that's fine. She says that it's very difficult to address accusations made from an anonymous source. I'll bet that it is. But sure she must have some idea why she resigned as Minister, no?

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Green Funds:

Whatever happened to the investigation into Conservative MPs Lee Richardson's company? Last month it was revealed that his company got a $185,000 grant from a Government of Canada green fund...


And Gail Shea, Fisheries Minister, her son-in-law got a $20-million government grant for "Green" windpower company: http://thechronicleherald.ca/Front/1177007.html

Something smells fishy...