By The Canadian Press
OTTAWA – A Liberal MP is calling on “ghoulish” adversaries to back off their criticism of Helena Guergis even as his own party is asking the federal ethics commissioner to look into a big mortgage given to the embattled Tory cabinet minister.
Glen Pearson wrote on his blog late Tuesday that the opposition and media feeding frenzy over the status of women minister’s conduct has gone too far, shaming the country and all those who’ve reveled in her “public disgrace.”
“I’ll be honest here and state that I believe it’s time we backed off from the Helena Guergis story – not because of what we’re discovering about her but about what we’ve seen in ourselves,” Pearson wrote.
“Citizens, media, political parties (including her own) – we’ve all pursued her calamities to such a degree that we now seem kind of ghoulish.”
Guergis has been under fire since she threw a tantrum at Charlottetown airport in February.
And last week, she faced further calls for her resignation after it was revealed that several current and former staffers had written letters to newspapers praising the minister – without identifying their links to her.
Guergis’s husband, former Edmonton Tory MP Rahim Jaffer, has helped keep the spotlight on the minister. He was fined last month for careless driving after charges of cocaine possession and impaired driving were dropped.
Then on the weekend, a report surfaced that Guergis was given a mortgage for the full $880,000 cost of a home in Ottawa’s tony Rockcliffe district.
Liberal MP Marlene Jennings wrote Tuesday to ethics commissioner Mary Dawson, asking her to determine if Guergis, who did not apparently make any downpayment, was given preferential treatment by an Edmonton branch of the Bank of Nova Scotia which financed the house purchase.
Jennings noted that the conflict of interest code for MPs stipulates that no MP or family member shall accept – directly or indirectly – any gift or benefit that might be perceived as an attempt to influence the MP.
But Pearson is clearly uncomfortable with the latest direction the Guergis saga has taken, opining that the media has substituted “fair-minded journalism for a kind of fanatical pursuit of the salacious.” And he says citizens and politicians have joined the fray with glee, to their discredit.
“A decent, fair-minded country knows when to look away, to quietly deal with its umbrage in a quiet and respectful manner,” he wrote.
“Except in the Guergis story we have shown that we left those characteristics of decency and respectfulness somewhere in the past. We are witnessing a woman living her worst nightmare, brought on by herself surely, but made decidedly more horrific by our endless fascination with someone going down in flames.
“It is at once the best of sensationalism and the worst of human decency.”
Pearson said the willingness of Canadians to revel in Guergis’s descent “speaks volumes about us and the degree to which we have declined.”
“The longer we linger over her public humiliation, the more we add to our own shame.”