Junior Canadian cabinet minister leaves amid scandal

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Embattled Canadian junior cabinet minister Helena Guergis has resigned her cabinet post and has been ejected from caucus today in Ottawa amid recent scandals involving herself and her husband, disgraced former Member of Parliament (MP) Rahim Jaffer.

Guergis, Conservative MP for Simcoe-Grey, held the position as Minister of State for the Status of Women since her re-election in the 2008 federal election, but has come under fire due to an outburst at the Charlottetown airport in February and a call from the opposition Liberal Party for a probe by the federal ethics commissioner into her purchase of an Ottawa home. She has also come under scrutiny due to recent scandals involving her husband, who faced charges of impaired driving and cocaine possession as well as comments made to business contacts about connections to the office of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, those comments later being called "absurd" by the Prime Minister's Office.

In an email, Guergis is quoted as saying, "The past nine months have been a very difficult time for me. I have made mistakes for which I have apologized." The email made specific reference to her outburst in Charlottetown, insisting she would never insult her father's birthplace and also voiced her intent to continue in her role as a Member of Parliament.

Given the circumstances, Prime Minister Harper stated today at a press conference that "a resignation is necessary," also announcing that the RCMP have been called to investigate recent allegations against Guergis. Harper is also reported to have ejected Guergis from the Conservative caucus pending the investigation by the RCMP. Her role as Minister of State for the status of women has been given to current Public Works minister Rona Ambrose.

The governing Conservatives previously came under fire in 2008 after former Minister for Foreign Affairs Maxime Bernier had left confidential documents at the home of his girlfriend, Julie Couillard, a relationship that in itself caused some unrest in Parliament due to Couillard's past connections to Quebec biker gangs.