Globe Editorial

Helena Guergis deserves better

Globe and Mail Update

Even by the harsh standards of politics, Stephen Harper’s treatment of Helena Guergis is shabby. Although his former cabinet minister has long been cleared of the wild allegations against her, he continues to treat her as a non-person, refusing even to let her name pass his lips – unless he thinks her name is “This Individual.” (“There was a range of political problems around This Individual,” he said on Friday. “There is simply no desire to see the return of This Individual to caucus.”)

The Prime Minister’s Office acted properly last year in passing allegations about Ms. Guergis to the RCMP. (The allegations were revealed this week to have included fraud, extortion and involvement in prostitution.) Mr. Harper behaved appropriately in suspending Ms. Guergis from cabinet and caucus while the Mounties inquired into the allegations. But when she was exonerated, he should have taken her back.

Mr. Harper’s ostracizing of Ms. Guergis reflects poorly on his respect for the Conservative riding association that nominated her and for the electorate that gave her a seat.

Allegations, even when baseless, have the power to destroy. “The damage is real, it is deep and it is permanent,” Ms. Guergis told a news conference. However trite it may seem to say so, the people elected to Ottawa are in fact people, and should be treated with dignity.

And what were those problems based on? While Ms. Guergis showed poor judgment in an emotional outburst at an airport, was her greatest fault being married to the former Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer, who had been charged with cocaine possession? And if so, would expulsion and ostracism have awaited a male cabinet member or MP if his spouse had been the subject of controversy?

If Mr. Harper wishes to present a squeaky-clean image for his party – well, ever since Maxime Bernier’s shenanigans (leaving classified documents at his lover’s home, for which he was not expelled from caucus), that’s a tough sell. And there’s the matter of Bruce Carson, the repeat convicted fraudster who worked in his inner circle. Squeaky-clean won’t wash.

If Ms. Guergis wins in her old Ontario riding (she is running as an independent), and Mr. Harper finds himself needing a single vote to preserve another minority government, This Individual may become Helena Guergis again.



Mr. Harper could not help but show his true colours when he sent off to the RCMP, hearsay, unreliable allegations from a source that was most probably more likely to be false than correct.

He could have fired, or asked Helena Guergis to resign for a number of reasons that would have crossed social lines, he could not resist the temptation to abuse his power and "get rid of her", for the wrong reasons that did not add up.

Helena Guergis while being popular with her electorate, knew or ought to have known that the behaviours, conduct of her husband would bring her down. He was a cocaine snorting drunk driver engaged in illegal financial activities , and, he got off thanks to the right people in the right places and it was his ability, to get himself off those criminal charges and those who helped him that made her an unacceptable long term liability, but Mr. Harper could not bring himself to use the appropriate reasons because he saw political risk and made a judgment, poor judgment call to destroy her with slander, an easy decision at the time and only time will tell just how bad that decision was.

What the scandal does show is Mr. Harper's propensity to abuse his power and ignore the fundamental principles of justice.

Don't expect anything better from Jack Layton, who opposes a legal presumption of Equal Parenting and who has been part of the extreme feminist movement to further erode the legal rights of children and fathers while giving extreme feminists absolute power and legislation that transfers wealth from men to women and which impoverishes men. For that outragious legislation, you can thank the likes of Jack Layton and his extreme feminist lobby group.