Indian-origin ex-MP's acquittal for cocaine sparks outrage in Canada | world | Hindustan Times
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Indian-origin ex-MP's acquittal for cocaine sparks outrage in Canada

world Updated: Mar 11, 2010 11:01 IST

An Indian-origin former MP in Canada is in the eye of a political storm after his acquittal by a court on cocaine possession and drunken driving charges.

Thirty-eight-year-old Rahim Jaffer, an Ismaili Muslim of Indian origin from Gujarat who became Canada's youngest non-white MP at the age of 25, was arrested last September for drunken driving and cocaine possession near Toronto.

His acquittal on Tuesday after pleading guilty to "just careless driving" outraged Canadians and embarrassed the ruling party as Jaffer's wife Helena Guergis is a cabinet minister for women affairs.

But the judge threw out charges of cocaine possession and drunken driving against Jaffer who lost in the 2008 elections from Edmonton. The issue rocked the Canadian parliament with opposition MPs alleging "deal" by the ruling party in the acquittal of Jaffer.

Opposition MP Anita Neville said the ex-MP had been let off with a "slap on the wrist".

"The Conservatives (the ruling Conservative Party) are conspicuously silent only when the law's being flouted by one of their own. Does this government really believe that the punishment fits the crime?" the opposition MP asked.

Outside parliament on Wednesday, ministers and ruling party leaders ran away from the media, saying that the matter was decided by the court.

Opposition Liberal Party leader Warren Kinsella said acquittal of the former MP shows that there are two set of laws in Canada - one for the common man and another for influential people.

"It makes one wonder sometimes if there isn't two levels of justice, one for high-profile people and another for everybody else," added Kory Tenecyke, a former aide to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Jaffer's wife also outraged Canadians recently by shouting at security staff at an airport after being asked for security checks.

The MP served four terms from 1997 till his loss in the 2008 parliamentary elections.