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MP says she won't back down

SHAWN GIILCK, QMI AGENCY

Simcoe-Grey MP and disowned Conservative Helena Guergis isn't about to back down in challenging Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his ruling party to explain their bad breakup.

Guergis appeared in public for a local event Friday for the first time in approximately two months. After participating in the ground-breaking ceremonies for a Collingwood campus for Georgian College, the embattled former junior cabinet minister and now-independent MP made herself available to the media.

"This has gone on way too long, for reasons that I can't comprehend and many people can't understand," Guergis said.

She said some mornings she "laughs for half an hour" reading the news stories about her and her husband, Rahim Jaffer.

"They'll throw anything and see whether it sticks," she said. "I'm not ready to give up my political career at this point."

"If it is my only option, say if something happens in the very near future, yes, I will run as an independent," Guergis said.

That's a departure from her previous comments, where Guergis said she wouldn't run against the Conservative Party.

Guergis said she's been away from the public spotlight mostly for medical reasons. Her physician, she said, has ordered her to rest and recover from an unspecified condition.

Those orders have kept her from working a full schedule.

"I do continue to work," she said. "I work hard, I've been in the House (of Commons) and I'm making my way through process, trying to figure out what's gone on, what the questions are, and what the allegations may be.

"I'm not getting very far."

Guergis took her new seat in the House of Commons for the first time last week.

She was forced to resign her junior cabinet position April 8, and was expelled from the party the same day.

Guergis challenged the prime minister and the government to table the documents outlining the allegations in open parliament.

Despite the turmoil, Guergis said she's still interested in returning to the party.

"I still do (want to return) and I still do hold out hope for that. I know there are a number of caucus colleagues who have come to me and talked to me and have expressed serious concern for the lack of process.

"I've worked hard, extremely hard, and I've been extremely loyal to the party and to the prime minister," Guergis said.

"I'm committed to my community and I'm committed to public service that I signed up for," she added. "I knew it would be tough, but I thought it would be a heck of a lot more fair than this. So, I think there a lot of question in Canadians' minds as to how someone could be treated like this without due process."

Guergis is due to testify before a parliamentary committee on June 9. She said she will highlight and correct some of the information that's appeared in the media, and then answer questions from committee members.

news@thebarrieexaminer.com



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