Helena Guergis Lawsuit: Former Tory MP Sues Harper, Others For Defamation
Former MP Helena Guergis is suing Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Conservative MPs Shelly Glover and Lisa Raitt, the Conservative Party of Canada and a number of other individuals for defamation and other claims.
The former member of Harper's cabinet, who had to leave the Conservative caucus in April 2010 following allegations against her and her husband, former MP Rahim Jaffer, launched the court action in Ontario's Superior Court of Justice. The statement of claim was obtained by CBC.
The unproven allegations related to drug use, fraud, extortion and association with prostitutes.
Guergis is not only suing her former boss and colleagues, but also Ray Novak, Harper's principal secretary, Arthur Hamilton and the law firm he works for, Cassels Brock & Blackwell, Guy Giorno, Harper's former chief of staff, Axelle Pellerin, a former aide to Guergis, and Derrick Snowdy. Snowdy is the private investigator from Toronto whose allegations helped spark the controversy around Guergis and her husband.
Snowdy spoke to Hamilton about Guergis and Hamilton then spoke to Novak, Harper and others, according to the statement of claim. Hamilton gave the impression that Guergis had used cocaine and engaged in other unlawful activities and that there was video evidence of it, the document suggests.
Guergis is suing Harper and most of the others named in the lawsuit for defamation, conspiracy, intentional infliction of mental suffering and negligence.
Guergis is suing for general damages of $800,000 plus punitive damages of $250,000 and aggravated damages of $250,000.
A spokesman for the Prime Minister's Office, Carl Vallee, said "the allegations are groundless and they will be refuted vigorously."
In the statement of claim, Guergis alleges that in 2010, the defendants entered into a conspiracy with each other or with some of the other co-defendants, to "engage in unlawful acts in order to remove" or justify her removal from the Conservative caucus. She says they came up with the conspiracy to serve their political, personal or financial goals and not for a legitimate purpose.
She alleges the defendants "recklessly and callously" disregarded her interests and that they engaged in "unlawful" acts. She says while each defendant may not have engaged in an unlawful act, they had knowledge of the acts and supported them.
Guergis, who ran as an independent candidate in the May election and lost, says the conduct of Harper and the other defendants resulted in damage to her reputation and her career in politics, and damaged her ability to earn income. She said it also affected her health and well-being.
Guergis argues in her statement of claim that Harper's explanation to her that he had become aware of criminal allegations against her was either false or that he "accepted the veracity of those allegations without conducting an investigation or waiting for the result of a third-party investigation" and used them to justify her removal from caucus.
As a result, the court document claims, Guergis "was pressured to resign from her position as the Minister of State for the Status of Women," and did so "under duress."
The RCMP cleared Guergis and no charges were ever laid against her.
The statement of claim says Harper's public statement made in the foyer of the House of Commons on April 9, 2010, was "made in bad faith in an attempt to discredit" her and legitimize her resignation.
The statement of claim also alleges that the Conservative Party of Canada's removal of Guergis as a candidate in Simcoe-Grey was "effected unlawfully" and was not in accord with the "duty of good faith and duty of care owed by the CPC to the plaintiff."
It goes on to say that the CPC's decision to remove Guergis as a candidate was "effected at the direction of Harper, and was effected in furtherance of the conspiracy pleaded herein."
The 31-page statement of claim makes numerous allegations against individuals and organizations. It includes detailed descriptions of alleged defamatory comments Guergis says were made by some of the defendants.
Among the allegations is a claim that Raitt "spoke defamatory words" in saying that she saw Guergis using cocaine in the bathroom of an Ottawa restaurant with two other people
None of the allegations in her statement of claim have been proven in court.
Raitt echoed the comments from the prime minister's office, saying the allegations are "groundless" and will be "refuted vigorously."
A spokesperson for Glover, MP for Saint Boniface, said the issue was a legal matter and Glover had no comment.
Giorno said in an email that the claim is "an incoherent mix of fantasy, fabrication and fiction."
"I am embarrassed for her lawyer and sorry that Helena remains detached from reality."