When Helena Geurgis melted down almost two years ago at the Charlottetown Airport, she received little sympathy. When she was asked to take off her boots for a security screening, she exploded. According to The Toronto Star:
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."
It was a typically Harperian response to what she perceived as a problem. But, when Geurgis's husband -- former MP Rahim Jaffer -- got into trouble last year, Harper moved quickly to cut all ties with her. He kicked her out of the cabinet and the party and he called in the RCMP to investigate Geurgis's suspected criminal behaviour. He did not ask her to resign, pending the investigation. He simply made her persona non-grata. Some called that strong leadership.
But even Conrad Black -- who at the time was having his own legal troubles -- argued that Geurgis should be accorded due process:
I know something of the presumption of guilt, the pre-emptive strike on a person’s reputation and the media lynch mob. Let those who defamed Ms. Guergis, sacked her from Cabinet, expelled her from the Conservative caucus, disqualified her for renomination and selected another candidate in her place — let them tell us why they did this. Not a word of alleged misconduct has followed this defenestration, beyond vague grumbling about her husband’s touting himself as a contact with MPs, not an offence and not imputable to his wife.
And that really is the issue. Following on the Conservatives acknowledged "reprehensible" treatment of Irwin Cotler, and his duly noted "contempt" for Parliament, Geurgis' lawsuit once again puts Stephen Harper in a highly unflattering spotlight.
One should expect that the spin machine which blackened the names of Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff will rev up yet again. But this time the arena is the courts, not the House of Commons. And, as the Supreme Court illustrated yesterday, they are places where Mr. Harper can be outvoted.
More than that, when Ms. Geurgis puts you in her sights, life can become very unpleasant. Hell hath no fury like her.