Rahim Jaffer, the former Conservative MP who had a recent and highly publicized run-in with the law, removed the Conservative logo from his website on Thursday after allegations that he had promised to obtain government funds for associates with questionable backgrounds.
And his wife, Helena Guergis, the Minister of State for the Status of Women, who has had her own problems of late, may have more to answer for after it emerged that Mr. Jaffer had written personal e-mails on one of her parliamentary accounts using a BlackBerry issued by the government. Nor has she recused herself, as cabinet ministers must do, from any discussions related to her husband's business activities.
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said Mr. Jaffer's latest issues must be addressed by the Prime Minister.
"Who was Mr. Jaffer talking to in the Conservative government? What promises did he make of access?" Mr. Ignatieff asked after delivering a speech yesterday in Mirabel, Que.
Mr. Jaffer and Ms. Guergis were both lying low Thursday after a newspaper article said Mr. Jaffer met with would-be financier Nazim Gillani. Mr. Jaffer is alleged to have said that he and his company, Green Power Generation Corp., could obtain government money for investment.
According to the investigative report in the Toronto Star, Mr. Gillani - who has been charged with fraud in relation to other dealings - wrote to his investors saying: "Mr. Jaffer has opened up the Prime Minister's Office to us."
Patrick Glemaud, the president of Green Power Generation (GPG), issued a terse statement denying the allegations.
"Mr. Jaffer is a valued partner of GPG," said the statement. "The allegations in the Toronto Star are inaccurate and a complete mischaracterization of the contact between Mr. Jaffer, a principal of GPG, and Mr. Nazim Gillani of International Strategic Investments (ISI). In light of the publication GPG intends to seek legal action against the Toronto Star."
It is clear, however, that, since losing his Edmonton parliamentary seat in 2008, Mr. Jaffer has been trumpeting his government ties in an effort to build his private business.
His personal website features pictures of Mr. Jaffer with Conservative MPs and dining with the Prime Minister. It says Mr. Jaffer helps industries to "secure support from the Canadian government." The Conservative Party logo was situated next to his name until midday Thursday, when the party insisted he remove it.
The Prime Minister's Office vehemently denied that Mr. Jaffer still has any pull with those in power. "The accusation that the Prime Minister's Office has opened doors for Mr. Jaffer or his associates is false and, frankly, it's absurd," said Andrew MacDougall, a spokesman for Mr. Harper.
But Duff Conacher, the co-ordinator of Democracy Watch, a citizen advocacy group, points out that it is illegal even to pretend to have influence with the government.
It is also illegal to lobby the government without being listed on the registry of lobbyists. Mr. Jaffer's name is not in that registry.
Mr. Jaffer could find himself facing bigger problems than those he encountered on his drive home from his meeting with Mr. Gillani. That is when police in Caledon, Ont., pulled him over for speeding and ended up charging him with drunk driving and cocaine possession. He pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of careless driving.
Ms. Guergis would not answer questions about the allegations related to her husband Thursday. Her spokesman, Martin Paquet, said Mr. Jaffer is a private citizen, "so it's his personal thing."
As for the e-mails sent on her account, Mr. Paquet said Parliament's Board of Internal Economy, which governs the use of all wireless devices, allows every MP to dispense four of those devices to whomever they see fit. "Many, many, many MPs give one to their spouse," he said. "So it's not unusual."Report Typo/Error