OTTAWA – A senior Liberal says the private eye who tipped the prime minister to damaging allegations about Helena Guergis offered the information first to the official Opposition.
The source said Thursday that Derrick Snowdy spoke with a receptionist in Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff’s office on April 8.
Snowdy, said the source, left a message for Ignatieff’s chief of staff, Peter Donolo, suggesting that the opposition party was barking up the wrong tree in its pursuit of the controversy swirling around Guergis, the status of women minister, and her husband, former MP Rahim Jaffer.
According to the senior Liberal, Donolo did not return Snowdy’s call, concerned that it might be a prank or a set-up designed to embarrass the Liberals.
Snowdy has told the Toronto Star that shortly before midnight that day he contacted the Conservative party with his allegations that a business associate of Jaffer’s claimed to have pictures of Guergis and her husband partying with escorts when cocaine was being snorted.
The next day, Prime Minister Stephen Harper kicked Guergis out of the Tory caucus, citing “serious allegations” that he had turned over to the RCMP and the Commons ethics watchdog.
Guergis’ lawyer has said in an email that the former cabinet minister vigorously denies the claims of the private investigator. The lawyer said the business associate was making ridiculous boasts to persuade the investigator to do business with him.
Efforts to reach Snowdy on Thursday were unsuccessful.
However, he’s told the Star that he first tried to pass his information on to the RCMP and Ontario Provincial Police. He’s also told the Star that he’s a committed member of the Tory party.
It’s not known why he would have phoned the Liberals first.
Ethics commissioner Mary Dawson has said she won’t investigate the Guergis affair and she revealed Thursday that Harper never actually requested that she do so.
Harper spokesman Dimitri Soudas confirmed no request was made. He said the prime minister simply “forwarded” the information he’d received to Dawson and the RCMP.
“The prime minister did not ‘request’ or ‘direct’ any specific action. These authorities are independent and will make their own determinations,” Soudas said in an email.
Soudas said Harper did not pass on any specific details of the allegations, making it clear that his information was second-hand. He did, however, identify the source of his information.
Meanwhile, court documents revealed that Snowdy has filed for bankruptcy, reporting $13 million in debts and only $11,000 in assets.