OTTAWA—Former cabinet minister Helena Guergis is suing Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the Conservative Party of Canada and two former cabinet colleagues for $1.3 million, alleging she was falsely accused of cocaine use, extortion and associating with hookers in a conspiracy to chase her from politics.
Guergis, the former MP for Simcoe—Grey and minister of state for the status of women, saw her promising political career implode in April 2010 in a swirl of allegations.
Now Guergis is fighting back, accusing Harper and his senior officials of unfairly drumming her out of the Conservative caucus and cabinet for their own political, personal and financial benefit.
She accuses them of engaging in “unlawful acts to remove” her office and says they “recklessly and callously” disregarded her interests.
Guergis, who lost her seat in the May 2 election, says their conduct has damaged her reputation, political career, her ability to earn income, health and personal well-being.
In one incident, the lawsuit accuses Labour Minister Lisa Raitt of spreading “defamatory” words that she had seen Guergis in the bathroom of an Ottawa restaurant using cocaine with two other people.
Raitt’s office on Thursday called the lawsuit claim “groundless.”
Others named in the suit include Ray Novak, Harper’s principal secretary; Arthur Hamilton, a lawyer with Cassels Brock law firm, who was acting for the Conservative party; Guy Giorno, Harper’s former chief of staff; and private investigator Derrick Snowdy.
The statement of claim, filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, was first obtained by CBC News Thursday. The allegations in it have yet to be proven in court.
In the lawsuit, Guergis says the trouble started in September, 2009 when she was frozen out of caucus and cabinet meetings and activities. She blames media coverage at the time about her husband, former Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer, who was charged with drunk driving and possession of cocaine. (He later pled guilty to careless driving. The other charges were withdrawn.)
But the lawsuit charges that the real trouble began in April, 2010, when Snowdy went to Hamilton and alleged that Guergis was involved in fraud, extortion and prostitution.
Hamilton in turn took those allegations to Harper’s inner circle and the Prime Minister himself, the lawsuit states.
On Apr. 9, 2010, Harper announced in a news release that he had become aware of “serious allegations” about Guergis’s conduct that had been referred to the Mounties. And the Prime Minister said Guergis had offered her resignation from cabinet and would no longer sit as a Tory MP.
But Harper never detailed what the allegations were — either publicly or in a phone call with Guergis that same day, the lawsuit says. But Guergis says she was pressured to step down and accuses Harper of rushing to judgment.
The Prime Minister’s office said it would “vigorously” fight the lawsuit.