What Does It Take to Get Kicked Out of Stephen Harper’s Cabinet?
Helena Guergis’ defamation suit against her former boss and his government will come before a court this week. The judge will have to decide whether the suit should go forward or not.
Guergis was kicked out of caucus and Cabinet because the actions of her husband (and former caucus-mate) Rahim Jaffer. When she was kicked out of the Conservative caucus, the Prime Minister said he had been told of “serious allegations” against Guergis.
Guergis is suing Harper, a party communications official, Guy Giorno and her former caucus colleagues Lisa Raitt, Shelly Glover and Ray Novak, Harper’s principal secretary, for defamation, infliction of mental suffering and negligence, amongst other things. Harper’s lawyers argue that the suit has nothing to do with the courts since everything that happened with Guergis was under parliamentary privilege.
While Guergis did clearly have a lack of good judgment when it came to her husband (allowing him to use her office and a parliamentary Blackberry), there is no doubt that she was mistreated. According to the letter from the Prime Minister’s Office to the Ethics Commissioner, the “serious allegations” Harper referred to were allegations that Guergis had promised to “advance private business interests.”
Meanwhile, Christian Paradis continues to collect his ministerial salary with more than allegations in his file. (In fact, when Paradis was found in violation of the Conflict of Interest Act, he was also helping Jaffer).
So, why the double standard?
Lisa Raitt lost a tape recorder and made some embarassing comments about how you can solve any problem by throwing money at it. Result: Stayed in Cabinet.
Maxime Bernier dated a woman with connections to criminals and that wasn’t a problem for Harper until it was revealed that he left secret documents at her home. Result: Benched for a while, now back in Cabinet.
Tony Clement had a field day spending money meant for preparing his riding for the G8 Summit on other little projects like renovations to the community center and building a gazebo. Result: Still in Cabinet, now in charge of government spending.
Peter MacKay had a search and rescue helicopter pick him up from his vacation, took a military jet to get to his riding in time for a lobster festival and lied to the Canadian public about the cost of the F-35 fighter jets and what the government knew when. Result: Still in Cabinet.
John Duncan decided that investigating where they money went should be the first step during the Attawapiskat crisis rather than getting people into proper living arrangements first. Result: Still in Cabinet.
There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to Harper’s decisions about who stays and who goes, though it always seems that the more the opposition demands a resignation, the more likely Harper is to continue supporting the Minister.
Photo Credit: World Economic Forum