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Jaffer court case sparks outrage across Canada
Published Tuesday, March 9, 2010 10:10PM MST
Former Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer's guilty verdict in an Ontario courtroom has ignited an outrage across Canada. Many are now questioning why the charges of cocaine possession and drunk driving were dropped in the case.
Jaffer pleaded guilty to careless driving and received a $500 fine, and no criminal record.
The 38-year-old was charged last September with cocaine possession and drunk driving after being stopped by police for speeding in Palgrave, Ont., located about 60 kilometres north of Toronto.
Jaffer spoke to media outside of court apologizing for the incident.
"I should have been more careful. I'm sorry. I know this is a serious matter," he said. "Once again I apologize for that and I take full responsibility for my careless driving."
But now, some are saying the former Edmonton-area MP received special consideration and got off easy after the more serious charges were withdrawn.
"You've got to wonder if it was a different situation, a different person -- maybe there wouldn't be the same outcome," said Gillian Phillips with MADD Canada's Edmonton and area chapter.
But even the judge's comments in the case added fuel to the list of theories of why the Crown withdrew the charges.
Judge Doug Maund, told Jaffer in court, "I'm sure you can recognize a break when you see one."
Jaffer's lawyer attempted to offer an explanation to media.
"The charges of driving over the legal limit and possession of any illegal substance has always been refuted and I think the withdrawal of those charges vindicates that refutation," said Howard Rubel.
Still, Jaffer has received little sympathy from those in his former riding in Strathcona.
"Probably the fine he got was due to the privilege because he was an MP and I don't think it's fair to the rest of us," said resident Phyllis Harlton.
Jaffer was MP for the riding of Edmonton-Strathcona before a surprise defeat to NDP's Linda Duncan in a 2008 election.
In 2008, Jaffer ran ads on a local radio station accusing Jack Layton and the NDP of supporting the legalization of marijuana. In the ad Jaffer said, "Edmontonians understand how difficult it is to make sure our children make the right choices especially on serious issues like drug use."
Jaffer faced another scandal back in 2001 when his executive assistant impersonated him in a national radio interview. The assistant resigned shortly after the interview and said his boss had no knowledge of the incident.
Jaffer's wife is Tory MP Helena Geurgis who represents the riding of Simcoe-Grey.
Jaffer has 30 days to pay the $500 fine.
With files from Serena Mah and CTV.ca