Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer in court
Ex-MP Jaffer fined for careless driving
Drunk driving, cocaine possession charges dropped
Last Updated: Tuesday, March 9, 2010 | 6:54 PM ET Comments987Recommend319
Drunk driving and drug possession charges were dropped against former Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer in court Tuesday, but he pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of careless driving.
Jaffer, 38, was ordered to pay a $500 fine within a month. He will also donate $500 to the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, his lawyer said.
Former Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer speaks outside an Orangeville, Ont., courthouse on Tuesday after pleading guilty to careless driving. (Amber Hildebrandt/CBC)
“I’m sure you can recognize a break when you see one,” Ontario Court Justice Doug Maund told Jaffer in the Orangeville, Ont., courthouse.
An agreed statement of facts read in court said that on Sept. 10, an Ontario Provincial Police constable pulled Jaffer over after clocking him at 93 km/h in a 50 km/h speed zone in Palgrave, a village northwest of Toronto.
The community is in Dufferin-Caledon, next to the southern Ontario riding of Simcoe-Grey held by Jaffer’s wife, federal Conservative cabinet minister Helena Guergis.
The constable conducted a breathalyzer after smelling alcohol on Jaffer’s breath and found him over the legal blood-alcohol limit of 80 milligrams of alcohol to 100 millilitres of blood.
Jaffer said he had consumed two beers two hours earlier and was travelling home from Toronto, according to the statement of facts.
His lawyer, Howard Rubel, said the withdrawal of impaired driving and cocaine possession charges represented vindication for his client, who has always disputed the allegations.
“What Mr. Jaffer did was drive without paying attention to how fast he was going and he has acknowledged that today,” Rubel told reporters.
Crown lawyer Marie Balogh said in court the other charges were dropped after a careful review of the case showed there were significant legal issues and no reasonable chance of conviction. She refused to elaborate outside of court.
Jaffer apologizes for actions
Outside the courtroom, Jaffer apologized for his actions and said he was relieved the ordeal was finally over.
“I know I should have been more careful,” Jaffer said. “I take full responsibility for my careless driving.”
Jaffer was elected in the Alberta riding of Edmonton-Strathcona in 1997 as a member of the Reform Party, which later morphed into the Conservative Party. He held the riding until his surprising defeat by an NDP candidate in the 2008 election.
After Jaffer’s court appearance Tuesday, former Conservative MP Deborah Grey told reporters in Edmonton that he is a “lucky guy.”
“I think he realizes that today and I’m sure that he will learn a very valuable lesson from it,” she said.
In 2001, while a member of the Canadian Alliance Party, Jaffer apologized to the House of Commons after admitting an aide impersonated him on a live national radio call-in show based in Vancouver. The aide resigned after the station confronted the two men about the hoax.
The party suspended Jaffer from his duties as chair of its small-business advisory committee and he was demoted to the backbenches in the Commons.
Jaffer was not accompanied in court by his wife Guergis, minister of state for the status of women, who made headlines last week after she reportedly became verbally abusive with staff at the Charlottetown Airport. She later apologized.
Jaffer now works for a renewable energy business, Green Power Generation Corp., which he co-founded, according to his website.