Rahim Jaffer And The ‘Tough On Crime’ Facade

Former Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer, who was charged with cocaine possession and drunk driving on September 11, 2009, has just been given a sweetheart deal: plead guilty to carless driving and pay a $500 fine in exchange for dropping the drunk driving and cocaine possession charges, and escape with no criminal record.

I’m curious as to what 2008’s Rahim Jaffer would have to say about this incident. Back when he was still against drugs, he ran a shameful radio ad during the election campaign against his NDP opponent Linda Duncan (who ultimately won the election and unseated him):

“Jack Layton and the Ottawa NDP have publicly supported the legalization of marijuana. In fact when asked about marijuana Jack Layton called it a wonderful substance which Canadians should be free to smoke at home or in a cafe. Edmontonians understand how difficult it is to make sure our children make the right choices especially on serious issues like drug use. The Conservative Party supports drug free schools and getting tough with drug dealers who sell illegal drugs to children. Don’t let our schools go up in smoke..on October 14th vote Conservative. Authorized by the official agent for Rahim Jaffer.”

As for the federal Conservatives, they never pass on an opportunity to trumpet their ‘tough on crime’ agenda. Yet they remain largely silent on the Jaffer case, exposing their ‘tough on crime’ stance as nothing more than a catchy Tory campaign slogan.
For a political party who purports to be ‘tough on crime’, the Conservatives certainly had no qualms about killing 20 of their ‘tough on crime’ crime bills; 5 which died after Harper’s first prorogation in 2007, and 15 that were killed after Harper’s second prorogation in 2009.

However, Conservative talkers don’t let inconvenient facts get in the way of a good talking point, as evidenced by Harper’s former communications director Kory Teneycke on CTV’s Power Play, telling Tom Clark

“I think this is an opportunity to talk about the ‘Soft on Crime’ Liberal oriented justice system where there seems to be, kind of, two tiers of justice.”

Predictably, Teneycke stuck to the Conservative script even as his assertions were undercut by David Akin’s revelations earlier in the day in his blog post entitled “Jaffer Judge Is A Tory“. It turn out that the judge in Rahim Jaffer’s case is Doug Maunde; a Conservative who was appointed to the Ontario bench in 2000 by Harpers current finance minister, Jim Flaherty. Maunde was also the Chief of Staff to then Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s health minister, Perrin Beatty.

Did Jaffer get off with a slap on the wrist as a result of political affiliation? I can’t say for certain, but on CBC’s The National, criminal defence lawyer Russel Silverstein notes that the break Jaffer got is NOT common, adding
“when the public sees somebody charged with drunk driving and possession of cocaine, who’s politically connected, come away with such a great outcome, obviously people are going to be skeptical”.

CTV reports that the Jaffer case has sparked outrage across the Country, and rightly so. There is no question that had Jaffer not been a well connected Conservative politician, he likely would have paid a steeper price for his actions. (Coincidentally, his wife Helena Guergis, who is also a Conservative politician and is the current minister of state for the status of women under Stephen Harper, also escaped without consequence after her notorious airport temper tantrum).

Rahim Jaffer’s case case underscores the truth in Senator James Cowan’s rebuttal to Justice Minister Rob Nicholson’s propaganda that appears regularly in the National Post.

Senator Cowan clarifies the Tories position perfectly: “Soft On Truth, Not Tough On Crime”

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UPDATE April 8 2010

The story behind Ex- MP Rahim Jaffer’s drunk driving arrest – Rahim Jaffer connected to conman