Former Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer pleaded guilty to careless driving Tuesday and was sentenced to a $500 fine, while cocaine possession and drunk driving charges against the one-time anti-drug activist were withdrawn.

"I'm sure you can recognize a break when you see one," Judge Doug Maund told Jaffer in an Orangeville, Ont. court.

Jaffer refused to talk about his guilty plea under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act following his court appearance, but he apologized for the incident.

"I should have been more careful. I'm sorry. I know this is a serious matter," he said. "Once again I apologize for that and I take full responsibility for my careless driving."

The former Edmonton-area MP, 38, was charged last September with cocaine possession and impaired driving after being stopped by police officers for speeding in Palgrave, Ont., about 60 kilometres north of Toronto.

According to an agreed statement of facts, Jaffer was pulled over driving 93 km/h in a 50 km/h zone on Sept. 10.

The court heard that Jaffer told police that he drank two beers earlier that evening. He was driving to his home in Angus, Ont., in his Ford Escape when he was pulled over by police, failed a breathalyzer test and was arrested.

Prosecutor Marie Balogh told the court there was no reasonable possibility of conviction on the more serious charges of cocaine possession and drunk driving, saying there were "significant legal issues" impeding the case.

"The matter was carefully reviewed," Balogh told Maund.

Jaffer's lawyer, Howard Rubel, spoke briefly to reporters.

"The charges of driving over the legal limit and possession of any illegal substance has always been refuted and I think the withdrawal of those charges vindicates that refutation," he said outside of court.

Jaffer has 30 days to pay the fine and has already made a $500 donation to the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Opposition reaction

The Liberals have asked the federal government to order an appeal in Jaffer's case. The plea bargain contradicts promises by the Tories to get tough on crime, Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh said.

New Democrat justice critic Joe Comartin suggested that Jaffer had received preferential treatment.

"On the surface it's very clear I think to the average Canadian that, had they been faced with the same set of facts, at the very least they would have had a trial," Comartin said on CTV's Power Play. "There's no way the Crown would have withdrawn this without a very clear explanation.

"Why was the cocaine possession charge dropped?" he asked. "No explanation has come forward at this point, and there has to be."

The plea deal sparked an angry exchange during question period in the House of Commons.

"What is the government's comment on a dangerous driver in possession of illicit drugs getting off with no record and a $500 slap on the wrist?" asked Liberal MP Anita Neville.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson responded: "There would never be any political interference with any prosecution in this country."

Meanwhile the Prime Minister's Office offered little comment on the matter.

"I would simply point to the fact that it was judged and prosecuted under provincial law," said PMO spokesperson Dimitri Soudas.

Opposition parties have asked the Ontario's attorney general to clarify the court's ruling.

Jaffer was first elected as an MP in 1997 at the age of 25, and is married to junior federal cabinet minister Helena Guergis. He lost his riding in the 2008 election.

During his time as an MP, Jaffer became known for his tough stance on illicit drugs. He spoke in several Tory public-service announcements on radio that demanded stronger sentences for drug dealers.

Jaffer also found himself in a minor scandal in 2001. He made an emotional apology in the House of Commons after it was discovered he had an aide impersonate him on a radio show.

Guergis recently had to deliver a public apology of her own for "speaking emotionally" to staff at the Charlottetown airport in February. Witnesses said she berated Air Canada employees and yelled obscenities at security staff.

With a report from CTV's Daniele Hamamdjian and files from The Canadian Press