Now that the cloud of a possible criminal investigation by the RCMP has finally been lifted, Helena Guergis should be given the opportunity to salvage what she can of a political career in tatters from innuendo and association.
It will be a daunting challenge for Ms. Guergis to recover politically from the damage that has been done after the Prime Minister's Office called in the RCMP and the Ethics Commissioner over what it said publicly were "credible and serious allegations." But Prime Minister Stephen Harper can assist Ms. Guergis in that process by permitting her to rejoin caucus, and by removing the punitive ban on her ability to stand as a Conservative candidate.
Even in light of the RCMP letter informing Ms. Guergis she has been cleared of all allegations of criminal wrongdoing, the Prime Minister acted appropriately in reporting possible wrongdoing to the authorities. It is also correct that Ms. Guergis should not have remained in cabinet (she filled a junior role as minister of state for the status of women) in the circumstances.
However, the manner in which Mr. Harper simultaneously expelled Ms. Guergis from caucus, and then later ordered that she not be permitted to stand again for the Conservative Party as a candidate, is at odds with the treatment of other Conservative politicians facing allegations.
The federal Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner has twice turned down requests that Ms. Guergis be investigated. Mary Dawson is, however, investigating the conduct of Natural Resources Minister Christian Paradis over allegations he may have used his position to advance a business proposal from Ms. Guergis's husband, the former Tory MP Rahim Jaffer. The contrast with Ms. Guergis' harsh treatment is striking. Mr. Paradis remains both in caucus and in cabinet. There is no ban on his future candidacy.
Mr. Jaffer is undoubtedly a figure from whom the Conservatives would now like some distance (although he, too, is no longer the subject of an RCMP investigation, according to his lawyer). The fact that he is married to Ms. Guergis may be embarrassing for some in the party.
An inconvenient husband, however, should not be a bar to political service. With the RCMP investigation over, Ms. Guergis should have the right to sit in the Conservative caucus, and stand again for her party's nomination in the next federal election. But given her treatment, it would be hard to blame her if, in the event such an offer was made, she said, "No thanks."
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