Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Updated (6:30 p.m.) below.

It's hard to keep up with the maelstrom in Ottawa surrounding these Guergis/Jaffer issues but we can say this, it's another banner day for the Harper Conservatives and their brand of bad governance.

First we have the spectacle of a bit more Kafkaesque (word of the day) goings on. Guergis' lawyer is maintaining that Guergis hasn't been told of the allegations against her which have led to her removal from caucus and cabinet.
"She has made it clear from the outset that she will respond to these allegations, and she wants to respond to these allegations," Rubel said. "Unfortunately, it is impossible to respond to allegations if they have not yet been disclosed to her."
Yet hold up! Dimitri Soudas says she was informed of the allegations on Friday.
PM spokesman Dimitri Soudas says CPC lawyer informed Guergis of allegations Friday
More from her lawyer on the unclear allegations here. So which is it? Surely this is new ground we're breaking if a minister is booted and even the minister is not told what the allegations are. Is this the new Guergis push back against the PMO? Might this get even more out of control with a she said-PMO said dynamic? It looks like that's going to get a little more intense as Guergis has smartly inserted her lawyer to handle her public response on this.

Then, in Question Period today, the drip-drip-drip aspect of this story continued. The Jaffer/Glemaud meeting with Minister John Baird's parliamentary secretary, Brian Jean to discuss the Green Infrastructure Fund was the focus of a number of questions. This meeting resulted in 3 projects being proposed by Jaffer/Glemaud which Jean, in his own discretion, turned down. Which again, raises questions about the action plan funding and the way it was set up, leaving so much discretion in the hands of Harper ministers and parliamentary secretaries. It also suggests that the story may roll on, with news of more meetings eking out of the cracks in Ottawa.

The other major aspect to this story, the Prime Minister's leadership. Something which Craig Oliver zeroed in on today:
After Question Period, Mr. Harper fielded two questions from reporters on the allegations during an appearance with John Key, the Prime Minister of New Zealand.

Referring to former Edmonton MP Rahim Jaffer, CTV’s Craig Oliver asked: “Prime Minister, when you were informed that the spouse of minister Guergis had been charged with cocaine possession, what steps did you take, perhaps by asking her, to ensure yourself that this problem did not go any deeper or affect other members of your government?”

The Prime Minister replied: “First of all, I am not making specific allegations. There’s an implication in the question that because Mr. Jaffer was charged, that therefore I’m making accusations against the minister. As I say, I have received information that involves serious allegations about the former minister’s comportment. That is why the minister has resigned and that information has been given to the authorities. Prior to that, I had no information to suggest anything along these lines.”
Oliver's question is a good one that remains unanswered.

Update (6:30 p.m.): It seems to be becoming somewhat of a debate as to how this story should be handled in the blogosphere and otherwise. Personal issues are of course off limits. But this is a larger governance issue, how is the Prime Minister running this government? What does he do when such allegations arise? Why is this train wreck occurring under his watch? Are his ministers acting according to the accountability standards they promised? What is going on with the Lobbying Act and persons who should have been registered?

They deserve to have questions asked about all of this. It doesn't mean we can't walk and chew gum at the same time.