It has certainly been an interesting week for Helena Guergis and those of us that have been watching from the sidelines as her political career seemed to implode. Canadian newspaper, magazine, radio and television media have been enthralled with the story and have done a great deal of investigation, discovering intimate details about her activities during her tenure as Minister for the Status of Women and Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and International Trade. The media has scrutinized her every move for the past couple of years and every day this week, Canadians have learned something new (and, it would appear, increasingly sordid) about her private and public life. Every time a new rock is overturned, something slimy seems to crawl out into the light of day.
It would be interesting to see what would come to light if the media scrutinized all of our elected officials to the same degree that the political and private lives of Helena Guergis have been examined over the past few days. Thursday it was revealed that Rahim Jaffer travelled with her to Belize and Guatemala in 2008 and appears in photos taken on that trip. If he were not such a recognizable spouse, would we even be aware that he had accompanied his wife on the trip? In this case, a Foreign Affairs spokesperson stated that her Department did not disburse any funds for Mr. Jaffer, however, Canadians are so mistrustful of their politicians that they may find this difficult to believe. At the very least, the optics of the situation are not particularly good.
If a backbencher of any Party took the same trip with their spouse, it is highly unlikely that any Canadian would recognize their spouse in any publicity photo. If, as alleged, Rahim Jaffer used his wife's taxpayer-sponsored limousine privileges, it would more readily come to light, again, because he is a recognizable spouse. In the same vein, if a backbencher's spouse used the same limousine privileges, it would likely pass unnoticed.
If all the rest of the "rocks" in Ottawa were overturned, it may turn out that the actions of Ms. Guergis are not that unique among our politicians. It is most unlikely that Canadian taxpayers will ever know the extent to which privileges of office are misused by those we elect. Books such as "On the Take", a 1995 expose written by Stevie Cameron about the greed and corruption in Ottawa during the Mulroney era, show the Canadian electorate how corruption can be epidemic in the halls of the House. We can only hope that we are not seeing a repeat of history, however, we will never know for certainty.
On the upside of this whole affair, it seems to have completely re-energized Wayne Easter (Liberal - Malpeque, PEI). Apparently, Ms. Guergis should have never insulted his home province! Please note that this video was from Question Period prior to Ms. Guergis "resignation".