Rahim Nizar Jaffer (Urdu: رحيم جعفر‎; born December 15, 1971) is a former Canadian politician. He served in the House of Commons of Canada from 1997 to 2008, representing the Alberta riding of Edmonton—Strathcona as a member of the Conservative Party. He was the first Muslim elected to the Canadian Parliament. Jaffer became embroiled in a national controversy in 2010 after he appeared to receive "a break" from the justice system after being charged with drunk driving and possession of cocaine.[1]

Rahim Jaffer
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Edmonton—Strathcona
In office
June 2, 1997 – October 14, 2008
Preceded byHugh Hanrahan
Succeeded byLinda Duncan
Personal details
Rahim Nizar Jaffer

(1971-12-15) December 15, 1971 (age 48)
Kampala, Uganda
Political partyConservative (2003-present)
Other political
Reform (1997-2000)
Canadian Alliance (2000-2003)
Spouse(s)Helena Guergis
ResidenceEdmonton, Alberta, Canada
ProfessionPolitician, businessman

Early lifeEdit

Jaffer is an Ismaili Muslim of Indian Gujarati descent.[2] While young, Jaffer and his family emigrated to Canada to escape further persecution in Uganda after the government of Idi Amin confiscated their business and their home. They settled in Edmonton.[citation needed]

Jaffer completed a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Ottawa in political science and economics. He took his degree in the French language. He also served as a legislative assistant in the House of Commons. After completing his degree he returned to Edmonton, where he operated a successful coffee shop in the heart of the Old Strathcona district.

Political careerEdit

Jaffer was elected to the House of Commons as the Member of Parliament for Edmonton-Strathcona on June 2, 1997, at the age of 25. He won the seat as a member of the Reform Party of Canada (later the Canadian Alliance, which later merged with the Progressive Conservatives to form the Conservative Party).

In 2001, Matthew Johnston, an aide to Jaffer, impersonated him during a radio interview that Jaffer was himself unable to attend. Jaffer subsequently apologized for the stunt in the House of Commons and was suspended from his caucus position for several months.[3]

In the 2006 election, Jaffer was re-elected to serve a fourth term as the Member of Parliament for Edmonton—Strathcona. On February 8, 2006, he was named chair of the Conservative caucus by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.[citation needed]

Jaffer lost his seat in the 2008 election after he was defeated by New Democrat Linda Duncan. Jaffer was initially reluctant to concede defeat but finally did so on October 16 after the results were officially validated by the riding returning officer.[4]

In 2009, Jaffer expressed interest in re-seeking the Conservative nomination for Edmonton-Strathcona. However, he declined to do so after it was claimed that he was shut out of nomination process.[5]

Jaffer was once voted "laziest MP" in an annual survey by the Hill Times.[6]

Personal lifeEdit

On October 15, 2008, Jaffer married his former caucus colleague Helena Guergis, by then a Cabinet minister. This was her second marriage and his first.

Jaffer and Guergis became engaged in October 2007. Reportedly at the initiative of Guergis,[4] the couple decided on the morning after the election to scrap their planned wedding date and to get married immediately. Their wedding was presided over by Ian McClelland, a former Member of Parliament and a licensed marriage commissioner, later that same day at McClelland's home. The marriage was witnessed by the couple's parliamentary colleague James Rajotte and by one of Jaffer's cousins.[7] In December 2010, the couple had a boy.[8]

Arrest and convictionEdit

On September 11, 2009, Jaffer was stopped late at night by the Ontario Provincial Police while he was traveling at a rate of 93 km/h in a 50 km/h zone in Palgrave, Ontario, located close to his wife's riding.[1] The officer noticed a smell of alcohol on Jaffer's breath, and after administering a breathalyzer test, found him to be over the Ontario legal blood-alcohol limit of .08.[9][10] Jaffer's driver's licence was suspended for 90 days, and he was charged with drunk driving and possession of an undisclosed quantity of cocaine.[11] The location of the cocaine was a source of contention between police and Jaffer. The arresting officer stated that the drugs were found in Jaffer's pants pocket, whereas Jaffer's defense team claimed it was in his suit jacket. Earlier in the evening, he had met in Toronto with Nazim Gillani, a businessman. Gillani claimed he was a banker for the Hells Angels.[12]

Jaffer was initially scheduled to appear in court in Orangeville, Ontario on October 19, 2009.[11] During the 2008 election, Jaffer's campaign approved radio ads accusing NDP leader Jack Layton of being soft on marijuana use. The ads said, in part, "Edmontonians understand how difficult it is to make sure our children make the right choices, especially on serious issues like drug use. The Conservative Party supports drug-free schools and getting tough with drug dealers who sell illegal drugs to children. Don't let our schools go up in smoke. On Oct. 14, vote Conservative."[13] On March 9, 2010, Jaffer pleaded guilty to one charge of careless driving and was sentenced to a fine of $500. The cocaine possession and drunk driving charges were withdrawn.[14][15] Justice Doug Maund told Jaffer "I’m sure you can recognize a break when you see one."[16] The sentence and the dropping of the more serious charges triggered outrage across Canada,[17] as well as more extensive investigation of events leading up to the incident prompting the arrest, which led to allegations Jaffer met with several escorts.[18]

Electoral recordEdit

1997 Canadian federal election: Edmonton—Strathcona
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Reform Rahim Jaffer 20,605 41.30 +1.95 $58,003
Liberal Ginette Rodger 17,654 35.38 −3.12 $58,244
New Democratic Jean McBean 7,251 14.53 +9.48 $42,936
Progressive Conservative Edo Nyland 3,614 7.24 −4.05 $10,183
Green Karina Gregory 406 0.81 +0.23 $520
Natural Law Maury Shapka 153 0.30 −0.29
Independent Naomi Rankin 115 0.23 +0.05 $1,732
Canadian Action J. Alex Ford 92 0.18 $845
Total valid votes 49,890 100.00
Total rejected ballots 101 0.20
Turnout 49,991 62.74
2000 Canadian federal election: Edmonton—Strathcona
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Alliance Rahim Jaffer 23,463 42.00 +0.70 $57,365
Liberal Jonathan Dai 17,816 31.89 −3.49 $48,430
New Democratic Hélène Narayana 8,256 14.78 +0.25 $25,883
Progressive Conservative Gregory Toogood 5,047 9.03 +1.79 $4,252
Marijuana Ken Kirk 814 1.45 $149
Canadian Action Kesa Rose Semenchuk 299 0.53 +0.35 $1,485
Marxist–Leninist Kevan Hunter 164 0.29 $275
Total valid votes 55,859 100.00
2004 Canadian federal election: Edmonton—Strathcona
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Conservative Rahim Jaffer 19,089 39.40 −2.60 $67,449
Liberal Debby Carlson 14,057 29.01 −2.88 $67,910
New Democratic Malcolm Azania 11,535 23.80 +9.02 $46,100
Green Cameron Wakefield 3,146 6.49 $2,353
Marijuana Dave Dowling 519 1.07 −0.38
Marxist–Leninist Kevan Hunter 103 0.21 −0.08 $26
Total valid votes 48,449 100.00
Total rejected ballots 150 0.31
Turnout 48,599 65.66
2006 Canadian federal election: Edmonton—Strathcona
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Conservative Rahim Jaffer 22,009 41.71 +2.31 $75,063
New Democratic Linda Duncan 17,153 32.51 +8.71 $53,478
Liberal Andy Hladyshevsky 9,391 17.80 −11.21 $76,923
Green Cameron Wakefield 3,139 5.95 −0.54 $755
Progressive Canadian Michael Fedeyko 582 1.10 $0.0
Marijuana Dave Dowling 390 0.74 −0.33 $0.0
Marxist–Leninist Kevan Hunter 106 0.20 −0.01 $16
Total valid votes 52,770 100.00
Total rejected ballots 148 0.28 −0.03
Turnout 52,918 70.6 +3.9
2008 Canadian federal election: Edmonton—Strathcona
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
New Democratic Linda Duncan 20,103 42.58 +10.07 $71,669
Conservative Rahim Jaffer 19,640 41.60 −0.11 $81,597
Liberal Claudette Roy 4,279 9.06 −8.74 $72,953
Green Jane Thrall 3,040 6.44 +0.49 $3,801
Marxist–Leninist Kevan Hunter 147 0.31 +0.11
Total valid votes/Expense limit 47,209 99.79   $82,492
Total rejected ballots 99 0.21 −0.07
Turnout 47,308 65.4 −5.2


  1. ^ a b "Special treatment? Jaffer's drunk driving charges dropped". CBC News. March 10, 2010. Retrieved 2015-05-30.
  2. ^ "Indian-origin ex-MP's wife out of Canadian government". Hindustan Times. April 10, 2010.
  3. ^ "Jaffer to apologize to House of Commons". CBC News. March 19, 2001. Retrieved 2015-05-30.
  4. ^ a b "Jaffer concedes race, ties the knot". CBC News. October 16, 2008. Retrieved 2015-05-30.
  5. ^ "Jaffer shut out of nomination process in Edmonton riding". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 16 May 2018. Retrieved 14 November 2011.
  6. ^ "Strathcona race just what's needed to inspire maverick-style debate". Edmonton Journal. October 4, 2008. Archived from the original on August 20, 2015. Retrieved 2015-05-30.
  7. ^ Darcy Henton,"MP lost seat, gained bride in 24 hours"[permanent dead link], Canwest News Service, as carried in the National Post, October 17, 2008.
  8. ^ "Guergis, Jaffer welcome baby boy". CBC News. Retrieved 28 April 2014.
  9. ^ Donovan, Kevin (April 8, 2010). "The story behind Ex-MP Rahim Jaffer's drunk-driving arrest - thestar.com". Toronto: www.thestar.com. Retrieved 2010-04-08.
  10. ^ "Jaffer facing drunk driving, cocaine charges", The Toronto Star, September 16, 2009.
  11. ^ a b Hammer, Kate (September 16, 2009). "Ex-MP Jaffer facing drug, DUI charges". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved 2015-05-30.
  12. ^ Donovan, Kevin (April 10, 2010). "Financier boasted of his ties to bikers - thestar.com". Toronto: www.thestar.com. Retrieved 2010-04-10.
  13. ^ "Former MP Jaffer faces charges of cocaine possession, drunk driving", Globe and Mail, September 17, 2009
  14. ^ "Rahim Jaffer pleads guilty to careless driving charge". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved 2015-05-30.
  15. ^ McLean, Jesse (March 9, 2010). "Drug, drunk driving charges dropped against former Tory MP - thestar.com". Toronto: www.thestar.com. Retrieved 2010-03-09.
  16. ^ Taber, Jane (March 9, 2010). "Tories bristle when asked to explain Rahim Jaffer's 'slap on the wrist' - The Globe and Mail". Toronto: theglobeandmail.com. Retrieved 2010-03-09.
  17. ^ "CTV Edmonton - Jaffer court case sparks outrage across Canada - CTV News". edmonton.ctv.ca. Retrieved 2010-03-31.
  18. ^ Donovan, Kevin (April 8, 2010). "Toronto Star - The story behind Ex-MP Rahim Jaffer's drunk-driving arrest". www.thestar.com. Retrieved 2010-04-08.

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
Andy Savoy
Chair, Government Caucus in the Parliament of Canada
Succeeded by
Guy Lauzon
Preceded by
Norman Doyle
Chair, Conservative Caucus in the Parliament of Canada