Lurid political scandal returns to dog Canadian PM

Fri Apr 15, 2011 1:29pm EDT
 
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's prime minister suffered an embarrassing moment on the election trail on Friday when a former minister tearfully blasted him for firing her over unfounded stories about drug use and prostitution.

The sight of Helena Guergis weeping on national television could make it harder for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to attract women voters ahead of the May 2 election.

Polls show his Conservatives are set to retain power but perhaps not with the majority of seats he is seeking.

Harper booted Guergis out of cabinet in April 2010 over what he said were serious allegations of misconduct and called for a police probe. Although police later decided there was no case to answer, Harper kept Guergis at arm's length and refused to detail the allegations against her.

Under access to information legislation, Guergis received a letter that a Harper aide had sent to police mentioning allegations she had been involved in fraud, extortion and had even snorted cocaine off the breasts of a prostitute.

"There was a concerted effort to perpetrate lies and smear my good name ... this of course is the worst kind of politics," said Guergis, who accused Harper of ignoring her loyalty and undemocratically expelling her from Conservative ranks.

"Not only was it made to seem that I was guilty of conduct that has never been disclosed to me -- going against the very core of what our principles of justice are built on -- the prime minister's office still made it seem as though I was guilty of something even after I had been proven innocent."

At the time of her firing Guergis was a junior minister in charge of the status of women. She is now running as an independent candidate in Ontario.   Continued...

 
<p>New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton (L) debates with Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe during the French-language leaders' debate in Ottawa April 13, 2011. REUTERS/Sean Kilpatrick/Pool</p>