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Rahim Jaffer Pretends to be Matthew Johnston, and Vice Versa

From August 31, 2008

Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer, formerly of the Canadian Alliance, formerly of the Reform Party, brought embarrassment to his colleagues in spring 2001.

The MP for Edmonton-Strathcona was scheduled to appear, by phone, on a nationally syndicated phone-in program based in Vancouver. His interview would be about prescription drugs. About 15 minutes into the segment the show's producer received a call from a listener in Jaffer's riding. The woman informed the program that the person they were interviewing was not in fact Rahim Jaffer.

She was right. Jaffer had been double-booked. The man they were interviewing on the air was in fact Jaffer's executive assistant, Matthew Johnston, pretending to be Rahim Jaffer. But when confronted by the show's producers he appeared unfazed, maintaining the story that he really was Jaffer.

But his story did not line up with two messages left on the radio station's phone machine earlier in the day. The messages came in about 10 minutes apart. The first was from Matthew Johnston. The second was from someone claiming to be Rahim Jaffer. The voice was the same.

Less than an hour later, the show's producer had the real Rahim Jaffer on the telephone. She asked him if he had done an interview with them 40 minutes earlier. Unaware that their deception had been exposed, he confirmed that yes, yes he had.

Early the next week he apologized in the parliament for the deception and his attempt to cover it up. Matthew Johnston resigned and Rahim Jaffer was demoted to the back benches.

On Saturday they were extraordinarily disappointed about losing a little publicity. By Tuesday they had far more than they ever wanted.