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Mounties drop probes of Guergis, Jaffer

OTTAWA - The RCMP has found no evidence to warrant criminal charges against former cabinet minister Helena Guergis or her husband Rahim Jaffer — but the news Wednesday wasn't enough to win her re-entry into the Conservative fold.

OTTAWA - The RCMP has found no evidence to warrant criminal charges against former cabinet minister Helena Guergis or her husband Rahim Jaffer — but the news Wednesday wasn't enough to win her re-entry into the Conservative fold.

Guergis was pushed from cabinet, caucus and ultimately the Conservative nomination in her Ontario riding over allegations she had used her position to further the private business interests of Jaffer.

Jaffer, a former Tory MP, had been working with a Toronto venture capitalist who is currently facing fraud charges.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper referred the matter to the Mounties in late April, and said "pending resolution, she will sit outside the Conservative caucus." He also sent a letter to the parliamentary ethics commissioner.

Guergis' lawyer, Howard Rubel, said he received a call from an RCMP commercial crimes investigator, Insp. John Kueper, on Wednesday morning saying the force "had found nothing of substance, there turned out to be nothing worth looking into."

Jaffer's lawyer Frank Addario made a similar statement Wednesday, saying the Mounties informed him "there is no evidence to support a criminal charge and it will be closing the portion of its file that relates to Mr. Jaffer."

Rubel said in an interview the RCMP never interviewed Guergis, the former minister of state for the status of women, during the process.

"To me, that speaks a tremendous amount, that they didn't feel that there was anything that they needed to speak to her about or to ask her input on," Rubel said.

The Prime Minister's Office was unswayed by the RCMP's judgment, however, and said Guergis would not be allowed back into caucus.

Spokeswoman Sara MacIntyre cited a list of issues surrounding Guergis and Jaffer, none of which were mentioned by Harper or his office when he first announced her departure.

"There were several factors, with respect to disclosure of her mortgage, as well as her husband's business dealings, and the use of her office, and BlackBerrys for business purposes," said MacIntyre.

"There were several factors that led to her removal from cabinet and caucus."

Guergis failed to disclose to the ethics and conflict of interest commissioner that she had a mortgage liability, and paid a $100 fine for the delay this spring.

The commissioner is currently examining whether she broke ethics rules when she wrote a letter of support for a businessman in her constituency who had prior dealings with Jaffer.

That examination was not related to the first letter sent from Harper's office, which did not trigger an investigation by the ethics commissioner.

"There are still ethics investigations, and Conservatives try to hold our members to a high standard of conduct," said MacIntyre.

Natural Resources Minister Christian Paradis is also facing an investigation by the ethics commissioner over his dealings with Jaffer, but has remained in caucus and cabinet.

Guergis was not commenting Wednesday. Her office said she was spending time with family. Guergis is expecting a baby sometime late this year or early next.

Rubel said she was celebrating the news from the RCMP.

"She's obviously delighted to finally be told that there was nothing ever worth inquiring into," said Rubel.

"She wasn't surprised by that answer, but at the same time it's always nice to be told there's no longer anything hanging over your head, especially something that has remained undisclosed to her over this whole period of time."

Addario also said his client will not be commenting.

"Mr. Jaffer is pleased with this news," he said in a statement.

The issue over what Guergis was told prior to her ouster is still a subject of debate between her camp and Harper's office.

The Conservative party's lawyer, Arthur Hamilton, testified at a committee that Guergis was clearly told the nature of the allegations. He said they involved the claim she was using her office to help Jaffer peddle influence with potential clients.

The information came from a private investigator probing Toronto businessman Nazim Gillani, who is facing unrelated fraud charges in an Ontario court.

New Democrat MP Pat Martin said Wednesday that both Guergis and Canadians deserve to hear exactly what allegations caused a cabinet minister to lose her job.

"I think at the very least he owes Helena Guergis an apology and maybe an out-of-court settlement," Martin said.