Attempted breach of security?
“I’ve been down here working my ass off for you people.”?
Not the cultural sensitivity I want displayed by my rep for the status of women. Ms. Guergis, Canada won’t be needing your services any longer.
Critics say ‘petulant’ Helena Guergis must go
They say anyone else would have been barred from plane or arrested for outburst in P.E.I.
OTTAWA–Acting like a “petulant child” at the Charlottetown airport should cost junior federal minister Helena Guergis her cabinet job, critics say.
Airport workers are said to be still reeling from the behaviour displayed on Feb. 19 by the minister of state for the status of women, even though she apologized – six days after the fact.
Despite allegedly screaming obscenities at airport staff after she was asked to remove her boots, Guergis was allowed to board her flight to Montreal along with an aide, leading to charges of a double standard.
Critics said Friday that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has no choice but to show her the door, citing the precedent set when former Progressive Conservative housing minister Alan Redway was forced to resign in 1991 after he was charged for joking about having a gun while boarding a flight.
“She acted like a petulant child. I think she should be forced to resign because she showed such contempt for ordinary Canadians and the people of that province (Prince Edward Island) that I think she has lost the moral authority to be a minister of the Crown,” said NDP MP Pat Martin (Winnipeg Centre).
Martin said if anyone else displayed that kind of behaviour they would at least have been taken aside and probably not allowed to board the airplane, and, at worst, arrested and possibly Tasered.
“(Harper) needs to ask her to step down. Ms. Guergis’s behaviour is completely unacceptable of any citizen, let alone a minister of the Crown,” said Anita Neville, the Liberal critic for the status of women.
The Prime Minister’s Office told the Toronto Star: “She has apologized for her actions. The matter is closed.”
In her apology, Guergis, the MP for Simcoe-Grey, played down the tantrum, saying she “spoke emotionally to some staff members.”
Ned Frank, a retired Queen’s University political science professor, said “nastiness” has become the hallmark of the Conservative government.
“It’s part of a pattern.”
In the Feb. 19 incident, on Guergis’s 41st birthday, she and an aide showed up at the last minute to catch the plane.
“On Feb. 19, I was rushing to catch a flight at Charlottetown airport and spoke emotionally to some staff members,” she stated. “Regardless of my workload and personal circumstances, it was not appropriate and I apologize to airport and Air Canada staff.”
An anonymous but carefully detailed account of her tirade was sent to P.E.I. Liberal MP Wayne Easter (Malpeque). According to the account, Guergis and aide Emily Goucher arrived a few minutes before the scheduled takeoff of an Air Canada flight to Montreal.
When asked to sit down and remove her footwear, Guergis “slammed her boots into the bin” provided by security personnel and then, according to the account, said to one of the airport staff: “Happy f —ing birthday to me. I guess I’m stuck on this hellhole.”
Guergis then allegedly tried to force open the locked door that separates the pre-board screening room from the area where the aircraft was waiting. When reminded that most passengers are asked to arrive at the airport two hours before boarding, Guergis allegedly shouted back: “I don’t need to be lectured about flight time by you. I’ve been down here working my ass off for you people.”
Senator Colin Kenny, who has worked extensively on airport security, said an average traveller who acted the way Guergis did would have run into trouble. “I suspect he or she wouldn’t have got on the plane,” he said.
“Banging on doors and shouting certainly isn’t going to ease your way onto a plane normally. … Someone in public life should know that that’s not how you behave.”
Easter said a number of people have asked him whether an ordinary traveller might not have been detained or even arrested for carrying on the way the junior minister did in the airport.
“That’s a very good question,” he said in an interview. “I think it’s clear that her VIP status is what got her on the flight.”
The incident is the latest setback for Guergis and husband Rahim Jaffer, a former Conservative Edmonton MP. Jaffer faces a March 9 court date in which he is expected to enter a plea bargain on drunk driving and cocaine possession charges.