Michael Ignatieff launched an aggressive attack on status of women minister Helena Guergis today, saying that she's a liar and doesn't deserve to be in cabinet.
The Liberal Leader did not hold back in expressing his disgust of Ms. Guergis, who landed in more trouble yesterday after revelations that a staff member was writing favourable letters to local newspapers about the junior minister.
"If they have someone make up little letters in my book that's lying," Mr. Ignatieff said when asked about the situation outside of caucus today. "And then pretending that you didn't really have anything to do with it, it was all the staff - that's lying a second time."
"I don't think a person like that is worthy of the confidence of Canadians," he went on. "I don't think that person is worthy of remaining in the cabinet of Canada.
"It's that's simple," Mr. Ignatieff said as he turned on his heel and walked back into his meeting room.
Ms. Guergis's staffer was signing the letters with her married name, making it more difficult for her to be identified.
In Question Period yesterday, Ms. Guergis, who first landed in trouble after throwing a tantrum last month at the Charlottetown airport, was asked about this latest incident. PEI Liberal MP Wayne Easter also demanded her resignation.
Ms. Guergis said her aide had apologized, realized her behaviour was inappropriate and would not do it again.
The minister is married to Rahim Jaffer, a former Alberta Tory MP. He attracted controversy this year after receiving a light fine for a driving offence; more serious charges of impaired driving, cocaine possession and speeding were dropped, provoking criticism he was let off lightly because of his Tory connections. Mr. Jaffer also landed in trouble in 2001 when a staffer impersonated him on a phone-in radio show.
The Liberal Leader, meanwhile, may just get his wish that Ms. Guergis be forced out of cabinet. CTV's Ottawa bureau chief Robert Fife is reporting today that she has lost the support of many members of the Conservative caucus and there are even some officials in the Prime Minister's Office who would like to see her removed.
(File photo: Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)