Rahim Jaffer

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Rahim Jaffer
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Edmonton—Strathcona
In office
1997–2008
Preceded by Hugh Hanrahan
Succeeded by Linda Duncan
Personal details
Born Rahim Nizar Jaffer
(1971-12-15) December 15, 1971 (age 42)
Kampala, Uganda
Political party Conservative (2003-present)
Other political
affiliations
Reform (1997-2000)
Canadian Alliance (2000-2003)
Spouse(s) Helena Guergis
Children Zavier Rahim Nizarali Guergis Jaffer
Residence Edmonton, Alberta
Profession businessman, entrepreneur
Religion Shia Islam

Rahim Nizar Jaffer (Urdu: رحيم جعفر‎; born December 15, 1971) is a former Canadian politician and a former Member of Parliament. He served in the Canadian House of Commons from 1997 to 2008, representing the Alberta riding of Edmonton—Strathcona as a member of the Conservative Party. He was the first Muslim elected to the Canadian Parliament. Jaffer became embroiled in a national controversy in 2010 after he appeared to receive special treatment, "a break," from the justice system after being charged with drunk driving and possession of cocaine.[1]

Early life[edit]

Jaffer was born to an Ismaili Muslim family in Kampala, Uganda. When he was a young child, he and his family migrated to Canada to escape further persecution in Uganda after the government of Idi Amin confiscated their business and their home. They settled in Edmonton.

Jaffer completed a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Ottawa in Political Science and Economics. He took his degree in the French language. He also served as a legislative assistant in the House of Commons. After completing his degree he returned to Edmonton, where he operated a successful coffee shop in the heart of the Old Strathcona district.

Political career[edit]

Jaffer was elected to the House of Commons as the Member of Parliament for Edmonton-Strathcona on June 2, 1997, at the age of 25. He won the seat as a member of the Reform Party of Canada (later the Canadian Alliance, which later merged with the Progressive Conservatives to form the Conservative Party). Along with fellow newly elected MP's Jason Kenney and Rob Anders and advisor Ezra Levant, Jaffer was part of an up-and-coming group of young Reformers which pundits dubbed the "Snack Pack" due to their relative girth.

In 2001, Matthew Johnston, an aide to Jaffer, impersonated him during a radio interview that Jaffer was himself unable to attend. Jaffer subsequently apologized for the stunt in the House of Commons, and was suspended from his caucus position for several months.[2]

In the 2006 election, Jaffer was re-elected to serve a fourth term as the Member of Parliament for Edmonton—Strathcona. On February 8, 2006, he was named chair of the Conservative caucus by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Jaffer lost his seat in the 2008 election after he was defeated by New Democrat Linda Duncan. Jaffer was initially reluctant to concede defeat, but finally did so on October 16 after the results were officially validated by the riding returning officer.[3] Jaffer was the only Alberta Conservative MP to lose his seat in the 2008 election.

In 2009, Jaffer expressed interest in re-seeking the Conservative nomination for Edmonton-Strathcona. However, he declined to do so after it was claimed that he was shut out of nomination process.[4]

Jaffer was once voted "laziest MP" in an annual survey by the Hill Times.[5]

Personal life[edit]

On October 15, 2008, Jaffer married his former caucus colleague Helena Guergis, by then a Cabinet minister. This was her second marriage and his first.

Jaffer and Guergis became engaged in October 2007. Reportedly at the initiative of Guergis,[3] the couple decided on the morning after the election to scrap their planned wedding date and to get married immediately. Their wedding was presided over by Ian McClelland, a former Member of Parliament and a licensed marriage commissioner, later that same day at McClelland's home. The marriage was witnessed by the couple's parliamentary colleague James Rajotte, and by one of Jaffer's cousins.[6]

Arrest and conviction[edit]

On September 11, 2009, Jaffer was stopped late at night by the Ontario Provincial Police, while he was traveling at a rate of 93 km/h in a 50 km/h zone, on Regional Road 50 in town of Palgrave, Ontario, located close to his wife's riding.[1] The OPP officer noticed a smell of alcohol, on Jaffer's breath, and after administering a breathalyzer test, found him to be over the Ontario legal blood-alcohol limit of .08.[7][8] Jaffer's driver's licence was suspended for 90 days, and he was charged with drunk driving and possession of an undisclosed quantity of cocaine.[9] The location of the cocaine is a source of contention between police and Jaffer. The arresting officer stated that the drugs were found in Jaffer's pants pocket, whereas Jaffer's defense team claimed that the cocaine was in his suit jacket. Earlier in the evening, He had met in Toronto with Nazim Gillani, an entrepreneur and businessman. Gillani claimed he was a banker for the Hells Angels.[10]

Jaffer was initially scheduled to appear in court in Orangeville, Ontario on October 19, 2009.[11] During the 2008 election, Jaffer's campaign approved radio ads accusing NDP leader Jack Layton of being soft on marijuana use. The ads said, in part, "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 Oct. 14, vote Conservative."[12] On Tuesday, March 9, 2010, Jaffer pleaded guilty to one charge of careless driving and was sentenced to a fine of $500. The cocaine possession and drunk driving charges were withdrawn.[13][14] Justice Doug Maund told Jaffer "I’m sure you can recognize a break when you see one."[15] The light sentence and the dropping of the more serious charges triggered outrage across Canada,[16] as well as more extensive investigation of events leading up to the incident prompting the arrest, which led to allegations Jaffer met with several escorts.[17]

Electoral record[edit]

Canadian federal election, 2008
Party Candidate Votes % ±pp Expenditures
New Democratic Linda Duncan 20,076 42.54%
Conservative (x)Rahim Jaffer 19,634 41.61%
Liberal Claudette Roy 4,288 9.09%
Green Jane Thrall 3,045 6.45%
Marxist–Leninist Kevan Hunter 147 0.31%
Total valid votes
Total rejected ballots
Turnout  %
Canadian federal election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes % ±pp Expenditures
     Conservative (x)Rahim Jaffer 22,009 41.7%
     New Democratic Party Linda Duncan 17,153 32.5%
     Liberal Andy Hladyshevsky 9,391 17.8%
Green Cameron Wakefield 3,139 5.9%
Progressive Canadian Michael Fedeyko 582 1.1%
     Marijuana Dave Dowling 390 0.7%
     Marxist-Leninist Kevan Hunter 106 0.2%
Total valid votes 52,770 99.72%
Total rejected ballots 148 0.28%
Turnout 52,918 70.6%
Canadian federal election, 2004
Party Candidate Votes % ±pp Expenditures
     Conservative (x)Rahim Jaffer 19,089 39.40% $67,449
     Liberal Debby Carlson 14,057 29.01% $67,910
     New Democratic Party Malcolm Azania 11,535 23.80% $46,100
Green Cameron Wakefield 3,146 6.49% $2,353
     Marijuana Dave Dowling 519 1.07%
     Marxist-Leninist Kevan Hunter 103 0.21% $26
Total valid votes 48,449 100.00%
Total rejected ballots 150 0.31%
Turnout 48,599 65.66%
Canadian federal election, 2000
Party Candidate Votes % ±pp Expenditures
     Canadian Alliance (x)Rahim Jaffer 23,463 42.00% $57,365
     Liberal Jonathan Dai 17,816 31.89% $48,430
     New Democratic Party Hélène Narayana 8,256 14.78% $25,883
     Progressive Conservative Gregory Toogood 5,047 9.03% $4,252
     Marijuana Ken Kirk 814 1.45% $149
     Canadian Action Kesa Rose Semenchuk 299 0.53% $1,485
     Marxist-Leninist Kevan Hunter 164 0.29% $275
Total valid votes 48,449 100.00%
Total rejected ballots 150 0.31%
Turnout 48,599 65.66%
Canadian federal election, 1997
Party Candidate Votes % ±pp Expenditures
     Reform Rahim Jaffer 20,605 41.30% $58,003
     Liberal Ginette Rodger 17,654 35.38% $58,244
     New Democratic Party Jean McBean 7,251 14.53% $42,936
     Progressive Conservative Edo Nyland 3,614 7.24% $10,183
Green Karina Gregory 406 0.81% $520
     Natural Law Maury Shapka 153 0.30%
     No affiliation Naomi Rankin 115 0.23% $1,732
     Canadian Action J. Alex Ford 92 0.18% $845
Total valid votes 49,890 100.00%
Total rejected ballots 101 0.20%
Turnout 49,991 62.74%

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Special treatment? Jaffer's drunk driving charges dropped", CBC, March 10, 2010.
  2. ^ "Jaffer to apologize to House of Commons", cbc.ca, March 19, 2001.
  3. ^ a b "Jaffer concedes race, ties the knot", cbc.ca, October 16, 2008.
  4. ^ "Jaffer shut out of nomination process in Edmonton riding". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 7 May 2009. Retrieved 14 November 2011. 
  5. ^ Strathcona race just what's needed to inspire maverick-style debate
  6. ^ Darcy Henton,"MP lost seat, gained bride in 24 hours", Canwest News Service, as carried in the National Post, October 17, 2008.
  7. ^ Donovan, Kevin (April 8, 2010). "The story behind Ex-MP Rahim Jaffer's drunk-driving arrest - thestar.com". Toronto: www.thestar.com. Retrieved 2010-04-08. 
  8. ^ "Jaffer facing drunk driving, cocaine charges", The Toronto Star, September 16, 2009.
  9. ^ "Ex-MP Jaffer facing drug, DUI charges", The Globe and Mail, September 16, 2009
  10. ^ Donovan, Kevin (April 10, 2010). "Financier boasted of his ties to bikers - thestar.com". Toronto: www.thestar.com. Retrieved 2010-04-10. 
  11. ^ Hammer, Kate (September 16, 2009). "Ex-MP Jaffer facing drug, DUI charges - The Globe and Mail". Toronto: theglobeandmail.com. Retrieved 2010-04-10. 
  12. ^ "Former MP Jaffer faces charges of cocaine possession, drunk driving", Globe and Mail, September 17, 2009
  13. ^ "Rahim Jaffer pleads guilty to careless driving charge - The Globe and Mail". Toronto: theglobeandmail.com. Retrieved 2010-03-09. [dead link]
  14. ^ McLean, Jesse (March 9, 2010). "Drug, drunk driving charges dropped against former Tory MP - thestar.com". Toronto: www.thestar.com. Retrieved 2010-03-09. 
  15. ^ Taber, Jane (March 9, 2010). "Tories bristle when asked to explain Rahim Jaffer's 'slap on the wrist' - The Globe and Mail". Toronto: theglobeandmail.com. Retrieved 2010-03-09. 
  16. ^ "CTV Edmonton - Jaffer court case sparks outrage across Canada - CTV News". edmonton.ctv.ca. Retrieved 2010-03-31. 
  17. ^ Donovan, Kevin (April 8, 2010). "Toronto Star - The story behind Ex-MP Rahim Jaffer's drunk-driving arrest". www.thestar.com. Retrieved 2010-04-08. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Andy Savoy
Chair, Government Caucus in the Parliament of Canada
2006–2008
Succeeded by
Guy Lauzon
Preceded by
Norman Doyle
Chair, Conservative Caucus in the Parliament of Canada
2006–2008