Ethics commissioner Mary Dawson released a report today saying that former Conservative MP Helena Guergis broke ethics rules when she wrote a recommendation for a constituent whose business was linked to her husband’s.
She wrote the letter to the town council of Simcoe Ontario in 2009 suggesting they look at a green waste-disposal company that was owned by one of her constituents. Her husband, former Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer had business connections with the constituent, Jim Wright.
"I concluded that Ms. Guergis contravened section eight of the code by sending the letter relating to Wright Tech, because she was acting in a way to further Mr. Jaffer's private interests," Dawson wrote.
Dawson writes that Guergis asked Jaffer “on a number of occasions” about his business relationship with Wright.
"This indicates that she was aware that there was an issue... Ms. Guergis had the right instincts in raising the concerns with her husband but she should not have let the matter go at that."
Guergis testified that that she saw Wright’s technology as an alternative to a municipal plan which she opposed, the report said.
"I believe that this was indeed a significant part of her motivation," Dawson wrote.
"While we accept that the commissioner found a technical conflict of interest, we are pleased that she accepted and found support for Ms. Guergis' position that this was not her purpose in sending the letter, and that she sent it based on her understanding at the time that there would be no conflict," Guergis’s lawyer Howard Rubel wrote in an email to CBC.
Dawson’s recommendations come as a result of a complaint by NDP MP Libby Davies who pointed out the link.
Dawson’s report also points out inconsistencies between Guergis’s and her husband’s testimonies.
Dawson says that there were significant delays in her inquiry due to the rules pertaining to accessing email accounts of MPs and documents on the Commons server. Guergis and her lawyer vetted everything.
In 2010, PM Stephen Harper kicked Guergis out of her cabinet position and the Conservative Party due to a slew of negative publicity around her and her husband. Dawson’s report at the time found no wrong doing and didn’t request an investigation.
"My office found no evidence in the course of this inquiry to indicate that there were additional matters relating to Ms. Guergis' conduct that warranted investigation under the Act," Dawson wrote in her report.
Guergis lost her seat in the May 2 election to a Conservative replacement.