I’M WATCHING THIS WITH INTEREST, WHAT WE ARE SEEING IS JUST THE SURFACE…
Rahim Jaffer shocked MPs don’t believe him
The government operations committee concluded June 17 that Jaffer gave misleading testimony about alleged illegal lobbying activities and failed to comply with a committee order to produce all related documents.
The committee said Jaffer could be in contempt of Parliament and asked the House of Commons to determine what, if any, punishment should be meted out.
Commons Speaker Peter Milliken is expected to rule on the matter after Parliament resumes next week.
In a Sept. 8 letter to the committee, released Thursday, Jaffer maintains he’s provided all documents, appeared twice before the committee and given only “truthful testimony.”
He asks that the committee put down in writing the details of any alleged inconsistencies in his testimony so that he can respond.
“I have done my best to comply with the demands which were placed on me, regardless of the disrespect I have been shown and lack of evidence of any wrongdoing to justify this treatment,” Jaffer writes.
“It was a shock to say the least, even after all I have done to comply with the committee’s study, it has been suggested in this (committee) report that I may be in contempt of Parliament.
“I strongly disagree with this report as I have complied with the committee’s demands, providing appropriate documentation as ordered and truthful testimony.”
The former Edmonton MP’s appearances before the committee were chaotic and confrontational. Even some of his former Tory colleagues attacked Jaffer’s ethics and truthfulness while they probed allegations of illegal lobbying, consorting with unsavoury characters, drug use, and potential conflict of interest involving his wife, former junior status of women minister Helena Guergis.
Guergis was kicked out of cabinet and the Tory caucus last spring amid the furor over her husband’s behaviour. She plans to run as an Independent Conservative in the next election.
Among the many inconsistencies in Jaffer’s testimony to the committee, he swore he’d never used his former parliamentary business cards or his wife’s parliamentary office while conducting private business and had never touted his ability to “secure support from the Canadian government” on his website.
Jaffer also maintained he’d never lobbied anyone in government. He also said that he’d cut off an exploratory business relationship with Nazim Gillani before it got off the ground. (Gillani, a Toronto businessman, had been charged with fraud and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence in an unrelated matter, but the charges were withdrawn by the Crown in July because there was no reasonable chance of conviction.)
The committee produced evidence that contradicted Jaffer on each point. He eventually apologized for “inadvertently” providing some inaccurate information but a second appearance at committee in June did not satisfy MPs from any party.
The committee is planning to resume its study into allegations that Jaffer lobbied at least four ministers or their aides in a bid to obtain financing for several projects, including a proposal to install solar panels atop government buildings.
Opposition members want to hear from a number of ministerial aides but the government is refusing to allow staff members to testify — the source of another parliamentary showdown.
Jaffer married Guergis the day after going down to defeat in the 2006 election. His life seemed to go into a tailspin last fall when he was charged with impaired driving and possession of cocaine. Those charges were eventually dropped and he was fined $500 for careless driving.