Harper and his cronies continue to insist that it's not really influence peddling if you don't end up getting any government money or contracts. They are, of course, wrong. And if they actually read what's on their own justice department web site, they'd know that.
The Criminal Code prohibits influence peddling not only by government officials but also by anyone who has or pretends to have influence with the government or with a Minister. The application of this provision is limited to those who have, or pretend to have, a significant enough connection to government so that they can affect a government decision, such as the awarding of a contract. The key factor is that the individual offering his or her influence does so in exchange for a benefit, either for himself or for some other person, as consideration for the exercise of influence. Anyone convicted of influence peddling is liable to imprisonment for up to five yearsJaffer got his wrist slapped for using the Conservative party logo on his site long after he was no longer an MP - a tactic clearly meant to show that he had influence with the party. And he insists that any meetings he's had with government officials have been social in nature - "catching up with friends", he says. Sure...
It was also recently revealed that his wife, Helena Guergis, sent a letter to Simcoe county allegedly on behalf of her husband.
Liberal MP Mark Holland demanded to know what the government has done in response to the Star article revealing that Guergis sent a 2009 letter on her MP’s letterhead to senior Simcoe County officials promoting the waste technology products of Wright Tech Systems.Ethics complaints. Lobbying allegations.
At the time, Jaffer and businessman Nazim Gillani were involved in a plan to take Wright Tech public in a $1 billion deal, the Star reported.
Guergis issued a statement on Friday denying any impropriety in the 2009 letter to Simcoe county officials and asserting that Jaffer had no business ties to Wright Tech.
Also appearing at the committee with Jaffer is his business partner, Patrick Glemaud, who's also under fire.
In question period, Liberal MP Frank Valeriote (Guelph) said that Jaffer’s business partner, Patrick Glemaud, met with a senior aide for minister of state for science and technology Gary Goodyear last fall, seeking federal funding for four projects.
Valeriote said that Glemaud, who is due to appear with Jaffer Wednesday, was working with an Ottawa-based firm called Sustainable Ventures Inc. that was hoping to tap funding from the Southern Ontario Development fund.
Goodyear said it was three projects and that none of them received funding, adding, “This government does not give funding to projects that do not qualify.”
In an e-mail, Anjali Varma, managing partner of Sustainable Ventures said that while they did attend a meeting with Glemaud and the minister’s staff, her company has not been engaged “in any matters” with Glemaud.
Glemaud also stated in committee that he's going to take "legal action" against Kevin Donovan of The Toronto Star.
May they all sue each other for years to come to keep this little story on the front pages.
More to come as the hearing continues...if there's anything worth noting.
Pat Martin (NDP): "You know what I really hate, Rahim? That you're making us all look really bad". "It's a little rich for you to be lecturing us today about raising ethical standards."
Watch online: CPAC
The TO Star on Twitter.
The CBC: Kady O'Malley
The Globe and Mail: Jane Taber