Guergis EA admits writing letters, offers apology 0
COLLINGWOOD, Ont. - Simcoe-Grey MP Helena Guergis's executive assistant has apologized for sending letters to several Ontario newspapers, written under a different name, and highly complimentary of her boss.
After being questioned about the letters on Tuesday, Jessica Craven first tried to deflect questions from the Enterprise-Bulletin. Hours later, she admitted to writing them, and then offered a formal apology to "anyone that may have been offended."
That apology extended to her boss, who Craven said did not know she was writing letters to newspapers, or that she signed them Jessica Morgan, which is Craven's married name.
"I have apologized to Helena and I can assure you that should I write further letters, I will not only indicate I am sending them as my own personal opinion as constituent but also, that I do indeed work for Helena," Craven wrote to the E-B.
Several newspapers in the riding, located north of Toronto, received letters from Craven over the last year.
The letters don't identify her as an employee of the member of Parliament, and are sent from a Yahoo e-mail address.
After the E-B confirmed a phone number provided with the letters was in Craven's name, she denied any conflict of interest when contacted.
Craven said that changing her name was to "make sure they were separate from what I do for a living ... I am a voter in Simcoe-Grey with my own opinions."
Junior cabinet minister Guergis, the minister of state for the status of women, has not yet responded to the E-B's queries.
She most recently made headlines last month after a much-publicized tantrum at the Charlottetown Airport.
Guergis is married to former Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer. In 2001 he starred in a similar controversy when one of his staffers was caught impersonating him on a Vancouver radio show.
Earlier this month, Jaffer was fined $500 for careless driving by an Ontario judge, after he was initially charged with cocaine possession, impaired driving and speeding.
Craven's most recent letter arrived on the weekend, defending Guergis's actions at the airport.
Another letter, published in the Collingwood Enterprise-Bulletin earlier this month, took Guergis' political opponents to task for failing to provide substantive policy alternatives.
"If the Liberal candidate Andrea Matrosovs, NDP candidate Katy Austin and Green Party candidate Stuart Starbuck had serious substance behind their environmental policies, or any policies at all, then why such a bold objective as to give birth to a (political) coalition in Simcoe-Grey, I wonder," the letter states.
A letter published in September that expressed support for a federal and provincial grant to Pretty River Academy, and Guergis, was critical of local resident Lorne Kenney, who had raised several concerns about the grant.
"Your shortsighted and futile attempt to disrespect MP Guergis in order to advance your own political career only reaffirms the reason that voters placed their confidence in her the last election," the letter says.