ORANGEVILLE, Ont. - Charges of cocaine possession and drunk driving against former Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer were withdrawn Tuesday after he pleaded guilty to careless driving.
In convicting Jaffer and fining him $500, the judge said he would not interfere with the joint submission by Crown and defence. "I'm sure you can recognize a break when you see one," Justice Doug Maunder told Jaffer.
Prosecutor Marie Balogh told the court there was no reasonable prospect of conviction on the more serious charges, saying there would be "significant legal issues" with proceeding on those.
"The matter was carefully reviewed," Balogh told Maunder.
She would not comment afterwards.
Asked by Maunder if he had anything to say, Jaffer simple said, "No, thank you, your honour."
Jaffer, 38, who refused to discuss his guilty plea under Ontario's Highway Traffic Act, said he was sorry, and relieved the case was over.
"I know that I should have been more careful," he said outside court.
"Once again I apologize for that, and I take full responsibility for my careless driving."
Jaffer, who is married to junior federal cabinet minister Helena Guergis, was arrested last Sept. 10 after police stopped him for driving at 90 kilometres an hour in a 50 km/h zone in Palgrave, Ont., north of Toronto.
Jaffer, who failed a breath test and was arrested, admitted to police he had two beer before heading home to Angus, Ont., in his Ford Escape from Toronto, court was told.
His lawyer, Howard Rubel, said outside court that there was never any allegation that Jaffer was driving while impaired or under the influence of "any substance, alcohol or otherwise."
Jaffer has always "refuted" the charges of driving over the legal limit or possession of any illegal substance, the lawyer said.
"The withdrawal of those charges vindicates that refutation."
Jaffer was simply driving without paying attention to how fast he was going, Rubel said.
"He has acknowledged that today as anyone would, and he will pay the same fine that everyone else will."
Jaffer was well known for his tough stance on drug abuse and dealing. He was the face of several Conservative public-service announcements on radio that called for a sentencing crackdown on drug dealers.
Jaffer joked it was nice to see all the reporters, saying he had been out of the political business for awhile.
He was first elected as an Alberta Conservative MP in 1997 in Edmonton-Stratchona but lost in his riding in 2008.
In 2001, 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.
The party suspended Jaffer as chairman of its small-business advisory committee, and demoted him to the backbenches.
Guergis, who represents Simcoe-Grey for the Conservatives, has faced problems of her own recently after a meltdown at Charlottetown airport for which she apologized.