I wasn’t going to write about this, largely because I had followed it vaguely when it all unfolded the first time around, and didn’t see much difference between this and Bev Oda. They were both just stories of Conservative cabinet ministers being accused of inappropriate conduct – in other words, in the Harper Government, nothing that didn’t seem to come up too often. Wait long enough, it seems, and there will be another Bev Oda; there will be another Helena Guergis.
The Twittersphere was buzzing today with media types live tweeting the Guergis press conference in Collingwood, ON, relishing in the details of how her political career was shattered and with little offered from Stephen Harper by way of explanation. The Guergis press conference had all the trademarks of another hard done by political sobstory: the crying, the gold cross around her neck, the dragging of her infant Xavier in front of the cameras.
So what makes this slightly different? In a nutshell, the political climate that the Conservative Party has created here in Canada since 2006. If Guergis actually knew what she had done, I don’t believe she would be running again as an ‘Independent Conservative,” or that she would have remained in Parliament despite her unceremonious demotion. If she was truly guilty of something, would she not have slunk out of politics forever? She must believe that the good voters of Simcoe-Grey will vote her back in based on her own merits, and not solely because of the political machine that backs her.
Guergis claims to this day that her political offence was never made clear to her, and that the infractions leveled against her have been debunked by the RCMP. Of course, the Conservatives refuse to comment on the matter directly, relying on their tried and true tactic of ignoring something in the hopes it simply vanishes from the Headlines.
This also could not have come at a worse time for Harper, although to hear him speak on it you would never know. The seemingly endless parade of accusations against his principles of democracy and justice continued today with stories alleging Conservative campaign supporters in Guelph were trying to snatch ballot boxes they believed to be invalid. So if we needed more to speak to Harper’s urgent need for secrecy and control, the Guergis story simply feeds the fire.
And the difference-maker here is her bold claim that she hopes to make it back into the Conservative Party of Canada again one day, but “perhaps under a different leader.” If I know anything about the way Stephen Harper runs his government, it is that he accepts no dissent. There is almost little distinction between Harper and the government; he is the government while Prime Minister, and so to say she hopes to return under a different leader is akin to spitting on a grave not yet dug for Harper.
Guergis must be thinking long term. She has always been a bit of a thorn in Harper’s side, and was often in the news for questionable actions and temper tantrums in airports. It is entirely possible that Harper simply sees a good chance to put a poor cabinet minister behind him, and if this is the case, such is the nature of politics. She was happy to say ‘I serve at the pleasure of the Prime Minister’ when he was in her corner, but now that she is in his sights, Guergis the politician seems to find his actions unnecessarily harsh.
Simply put, there is absolutely no way Guergis can ever hope to re-enter the Conservative Party of Canada after today’s press conference. She is political poison to them now.
I hope she thought this through. For her sake.