Congratulations, you scumbag — the return of Rahim Jaffer

Such was the off-kilter tone of today’s hastily-arranged special meeting of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, in which Rahim Jaffer appeared once again to answer questions concerning allegations of illicit lobbying on behalf of his firm Green Power Generation.

Mr. Jaffer, of course, was summoned to appear before the Gov. Ops. Committee yesterday, but declined to do so because he wished to be at a medical appointment with his wife, Helena Guergis. As is now known, the appointment was related to Ms. Guergis’ recent pregnancy, which is high-risk and still in it early stages.

So, yes, the tone at today’s hearing couldn’t be anything but strange. Congratulations were offered by committee members, who then proceeded to grill Mr. Jaffer on the inaccuracies of his testimony at his previous appearance.

(note to the lawyers: the title of this post is meant to be humorous, and I am in no way making any unsubstantiated allegations that Mr. Jaffer is indeed a scumbag)

Anyhow, on to the video footage.

First we have Mr. Jaffer making his opening statement. Here he accomplishes several things. Firstly, he appears to blame PM Stephen Harper for his wife’s difficulties in conceiving. He then tells the committee that they were big meanies to him during his previous appearance (not exactly a wise move to insult the people that are about to question you, is it?) He then deflects any blame for his bumbling away from his wife — perhaps he knows in his heart that she is really the only potential income-earner left in the family, and that his role has been relegated to a provider of seed. He then makes a series of incoherent excuses regarding the holes in his earlier testimony. Watch the fun:

As usual, Siobhan Coady is first up for questioning. Ms. Coady tries to nail down the fact that Mr. Jaffer was "friends" with various people in government, and that that was the foundation for his allegedly illicit activities. That is to say, he had access routes that ordinary Canadians would not have. She then tries to get him to discuss his work at GPG — Mr. Jaffer stonewalls like crazy at this point, basically implying that Mr. Glemaud was in charge of the whole deal. Ugh:

Michel Guimond is up next. The first translator is really out to lunch here, and seems to be stifling a laugh half the time — oddly, a second translator soon shows up, who also sounds like she’s in on the joke. Anyway, Mr. Guimond talks about the business card issue, which Mr. Jaffer doesn’t want to seem to want to let go of when the Bloc MP wishes to move on to the issue of special access to the government. Mr. Guimond cuts off Mr. Jaffer several times, and jumps around a bit erratically. Somehow the weather comes up:

Now we have Chris Warkentin. Since Mr. Jaffer is no longer a standing MP, and seems to have had his status downgraded to "under the bus" by the PMO, Mr. Warkentin is free to stray from talking points and grill his former colleague as hard as the rest of them. After a long opening, Mr. Warkentin begins by asking a question about…Mr. Jaffer’s website. Actually, he tries to catch Mr. Warkentin in a lie here, among others. It seems to be becoming increasingly clear to committee members that Mr. Jaffer is going to say nothing of substance to them:

And now the fun begins with NDP MP Pat Martin. Oh no, wait, it’s actually Don Davies here today. Seriously, why did Mr. Martin pass up on this gig? Could you imagine the fireworks that might have gone off had he been there? I think he owes us all an explanation.

Anyway, Mr. Davies brings up the business card issue again, citing Mr. Martin’s previous questions to Mr. Jaffer. He tries to get Mr. Jaffer to outright admit to lying, which is kind of interesting. A long talk about suits ensues, then Mr. Davies gets all huffy. The issue of special access comes up again — Mr. Jaffer stonewalls again. Note that you really start to get the sense here that Mr. Jaffer still hasn’t gotten over losing in the 2008 federal election:

This thing is really starting to become a joke. Has Mr. Jaffer said anything of substance up to this point? Anyway, Liberal MPs Alexandra Mendes and Ms. Coady try to wring more information out of him here. Mr. Jaffer answers with a long and detailed description of an afternoon he spent in Ottawa:

Here Conservative MP Paul Calandra elicits some of the most interesting testimony of the day. He brings up the issue of Mr. Jaffer’s trip to Cuba and the issue of his diplomatic passport. Mr. Jaffer does confirm his trip to Cuba, saying he went there on a "stag". After this, Mr. Calandra expresses his frustration over Mr. Jaffer’s previous appearance before the committee. Mr. Jaffer kind of loses it at this point. A must-see:

Here, Ms. Coady gets a third shot at Mr. Jaffer. Some interesting stuff about email from the PMO comes up — did you know that Mr. Jaffer has a cousin in the PMO? I didn’t.

More email talk follows. And then – then! – Ms. Coady brings up RLP Energy Inc., a favourite topic of mine (see here). Ms. Coady, however, tries to connect RLP’s proposal for a project involving TransAlta with funding that TransAlta later received from the federal government. If Ms. Coady was a Battle Light reader, she might have known that the later funding went to Project Pioneer, which RLP wasn’t involved in. There is lots to talk about with regards to both RLP and Project Pioneer, but the two issues don’t really connect. Please read my blog, folks — I explain this stuff clearly.

Anyway, here’s the footage:

Conservative MP Guy Lauzon later gets a turn to speak. First he congratulates Mr. Jaffer on the "upcoming birth". He then asks a question that probably should have been asked a long time ago: why didn’t Mr. Jaffer just register as a lobbyist in the first place? He really tries to talk sense into his former colleague here:

Now we get Mr. Warkentin again, who really gets worked up here about the website issue. I enjoy that Mr. Warkentin really seems to care about Mr. Jaffer deceptions, and that his concern goes beyond political concerns. He and Ms. Coady are the true stars of this committee. Some good stuff here:

I’ll leave things at that. As you probably know by now, the epilogue to all of this is that the committee later voted to recommend that Mr. Jaffer be found in contempt of Parliament. And Ms. Guergis is apparently set to appear next week. Should be fun.

Opinions expressed in this article are of the author and not of Oye! Times

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