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Political posturing

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Former Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer – husband to current Status of Women Minister Helena Guergis – was fined $500 today for the incident stemming from last fall when he was clocked driving 93 km/h in a 50 km/h zone outside Toronto.

Jaffer was initially charged with possession of cocaine and driving under the influence but those charges were dropped. The Crown said it had no chance of a conviction --  but there are no details why. However, he had no previous convictions, and it’s not uncommon for cases like this to have similar results.

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Still, it was no surprise when the tough-on-crime Conservatives were called to explain why one of their own got off seemingly easy. Even the judge told Jaffer he was getting a break.

Manitoba Liberal MP Anita Neville asked the government in Question Period today why it was suddenly not saying anything about Jaffer when, for years, their mantra has been, "you do the crime, you do the time."

"The Conservatives are conspicuously silent only when the law is being flouted by one of their own," she said.

She was met with a chorus of jeers and catcalls of being "sleazy" for raising the question.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson was clearly mad when he responded.

"Mr. Speaker, that is about as low as one can go, in my opinion. This honourable member is talking about a provincial prosecution in front of a provincial judge within the appeal period, and she is asking us to comment. That is completely irresponsible and she should apologize to this House."

But later, Manitoba MP and Public Safety Minister Vic Toews went a step further and suggested it was actually the Liberals who should take the blame.

"I believe the Liberal – the Liberal government in Ontario would be responsible for that," he said.

It’s certainly a constant refrain from Toews, Nicholson and company that the Liberals are responsible whenever there is some evidence someone isn’t getting the punishment they deserve.

However, with the sleuthing of colleague David Akin ( from Canwest, we discover the following:

"Well, turns out the judge in the case, Doug Maund is a long-time Tory:

  • When Brian Mulroney was prime minister, Maund was the chief of staff to Mulroney's health minister Perrin Beatty.
  • He backed Kim Campbell in the leadership race to succeed Mulroney.
  • He was appointed to the Ontario bench in October 2000 by the Ontario attorney general of the day, none other than current federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty."

This is not to say Judge Maund did anything inappropriate. Jaffer’s plea was the result of a negotiation with the Crown and, as noted, above Maund did remind Jaffer he was getting a break.

It’s just to note that when Toews attempted to suggest the Liberal government of Ontario might be responsible, it in fact was a judge appointed by one of Toews’ colleagues who was sitting on the bench.

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About Mia Rabson

Mia Rabson is a born and bred Winnipegger whose interest in politics seemed clear when she dressed up as Prime Minister Brian Mulroney for Halloween in the 7th grade.

Her interest in writing was no surprise to her parents, who learned early in Mia’s life that no piece of blank paper — or wall, for that matter — was safe in her hands.

She holds an honours BA in English from Queen’s University, a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Western Ontario, and has completed a political journalism fellowship in Washington, D.C. with the Washington Centre for Politics and Journalism.

Prior to working for the Winnipeg Free Press, Mia briefly worked for the Detroit News in the paper’s Washington bureau.

Mia joined the Free Press team in February 2001, and in April 2001 was appointed to the Manitoba legislature bureau. In December 2004, she was appointed bureau chief at the legislature. She became the newspaper’s parliamentary bureau chief/national reporter in Ottawa in January 2008.

In 2008 she was nominated for a Michener Award with a team of reporters from the Free Press for its coverage of the province’s child welfare system.

She counts reliving the invasion at Dieppe, France, with veterans of the failed Second World War expedition and overcoming her fear of heights to touch the Golden Boy statue atop the Legislative Building among her favourite experiences as a reporter.


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