sordid stories are hard to ignore

So Mt. St. Helena is about to erupt, and everyone’s running for cover. The haughty and allegedly naughty star of the cabinet, member of Parliament Helena Guergis, has now been shooed to the back, kicked out of the spotlight, condemned to hover in the shadows and await the June arrival of the eagerly desired, eternally funded MP pension.

Guergis, former Minister of State on the Status of Women, has hired Howard Rubel, the lawyer who negotiated the deal for her husband, Rahim Jaffer, charged for impaired driving and possession of a gram of cocaine in his pocket last fall. Penalty? No record, $500 fine, $500 to charity, leading Jaffer’s judge to state, “I am sure you can recognize a break when you see one.” Guergis is hoping lightning will strike the same place twice. Holding to her personal mantra, “It’s not cheating unless you get caught,” she has announced she’s ready for a fight and wants to set things straight. She’s not known to be a straight and narrow kind of woman, so this may be a bit of a challenge.

The couple intrigues me and I’m almost sorry to hear they’ll be falling into the shadows.

Husband Jaffer, former 10-year MP and Conservative caucus chair, was thrust into the spotlight with his shenanigans last September. This, coupled with earlier difficulties, shows Jaffer is clearly no longer the golden boy he once was. His slide began in 2001 when his executive assistant Matthew Johnston, posed as Jaffer on a CBC radio interview. Apparently Jaffer had more important things to do, namely spend the afternoon opening his new coffee shop on Whyte Avenue in Edmonton. Johnston got fired for the stunt while Jaffer supplied comedians with priceless material.

Guergis seems to have secured similarly radical support from her staff, who are perfectly willing to write glowing accolades to newspapers under false identities or fetch her boots after she’s thrown them at airport staff in a hissy fit. Guergis’ viva-la-diva lifestyle is nothing compared to the average Canadian woman. Her definition of the “status of women” appears to lean more to prestige than wellbeing.

Though the jury is still out on the exact nature of Jaffer and Guergis’ misbehaviour, it seems Jaffer was happy to use his former MP status to grease the wheels of whatever wagon he needed to ride. This included handing out MP business cards after he was turfed from office. Guergis could have something to do with that. She has the second highest MP budget for printed flyers. Perhaps she needed that money to pay for her husband’s cards, which over the last two years have made their way into the hands of businessmen of questionable character.

Losing isn’t easy for this pair. In October 2008, Jaffer refused to admit his Strathcona riding was lost to Linda Duncan, and demanded validation of the vote. Two days later, his unemployed status was confirmed by election officials, just enough time for he and Guergis to gleefully and impulsively marry. Now that the dust has settled, one would hope the two self-indulging children could stay out of trouble, but Prime Minister Stephen Harper had different plans.

Living in a fishbowl is difficult, especially when you act like brats. At times, the choice to act responsibly is simply the choice to not act irresponsibly. Whether or not Jaffer and Guergis have learned their lesson is still to be seen. I suspect not. We haven’t seen the last of them.

St. Albert Gazette | Apr 17, 2010 06:00 am | Dee-Ann Schwanke

(Dee-Ann Schwanke thinks she’s doing fine as a Canadian woman, in spite of Helena Guergis’ activity.)

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2 thoughts on “sordid stories are hard to ignore

  1. Hi Dee-Ann,

    I’m not sure if you wrote this article or found it and thought it was interesting enough to post. But I think its pretty funny. It is also ironic that I worked for Jaffer from 2002-2004 as his Constituency Manager. I have some other insights into his personality!

    I hope you are well.

  2. Yes, I wrote this article. I always found Jaffer to be an interesting bloke, and the news about him always to be quirky and unreal. His wife’s publicity at the time of this article (April) simply stayed in stride with his.
    They really have fallen into the shadows since then. No doubt, we’ll hear more about them in the months ahead.
    I had no idea you were in that role. Crazy! It must have been an intensely interesting job! I’d like to hear more!
    Yes, we’re well. Hope things are good with you also!
    D

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