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Updated: Mon, 31 Mar 2014 17:46:37 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Dimitri Soudas fired as Conservative Party executive director



Dimitri Soudas answers questions in Riviere-du-Loup, Que. on April 20, 2011. Frank Gunn/Canadian Press

Dimitri Soudas answers questions in Riviere-du-Loup, Que. on April 20, 2011. Frank Gunn/Canadian Press

Dimitri Soudas has been forced out as the Conservative Party of Canada's executive director after trying to interfere with his fiancée's Conservative nomination battle.

Soudas, who was Prime Minister Stephen Harper's director of communications in 2011, has been the party's executive director since December. He worked for Harper for nine years, starting when Harper was the leader of the official opposition. Soudas left after the party won a majority government in May 2011, and took a job with the Canadian Olympic Committee. He left that job just days before the party announced they'd hired him in the top staff job.

The party's national council was briefed on the move during a conference call at 9 p.m. ET Sunday.

Soudas's fiancée, Eve Adams, is fighting local chiropractor Natalia Lishchyna for the Conservative nomination in Oakville-North Burlington, a newly created riding that technically won't exist until the next election. Adams is the MP for Mississauga-Brampton South, a riding that's being split in 2015.

The Canadian Press has reported that tempers flared when Adams showed up at a riding board meeting March 19, and was asked to leave after an unpleasant exchange. Two separate Conservative sources said one board member threatened to call the police when she stayed on.

Soudas couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

A spokesman for the party confirmed that Soudas "stepped down as executive director" of the party, but wouldn't comment further. A source told the CBC's Hannah Thibedeau that Soudas was told to resign or he would be fired.

Conservative Party President John Walsh sent an email to the national council, obtained by CBC News, that named Simon Thompson as the interim executive director.

Thompson is currently the party's chief information officer. He started last September. Prior to that, he worked for Deloitte in Ottawa.

The conference call wasn't announced until late Sunday evening and members of the council weren't told what the call would be about, sources said.

Caucus anger

The combative Soudas was Harper's choice to run the party in the lead-up to the 2015 federal election. Soudas was appointed over the protests of cabinet ministers and national council members who pushed for other candidates. 

Harper short-circuited those candidacies by having council members to his living room at 24 Sussex Dr. for a show-of-hands vote on Soudas.

But sources told CBC News that Soudas angered many in the party — including some Conservative MPs ​— this month by getting involved in Adams' race in Burlington, making hundreds of calls to try to drum up support for her nomination.

On the night of the Oakville-North Burlington riding association board meeting earlier this month, Soudas was waiting for Adams in an adjacent hallway to pick her up. Adams has been recovering from a concussion from a fall last month in Ottawa.

Longtime party organizer Wally Butts expressed frustration with the situation in Oakville-North Burlington, pointing out in an email to party officials that "Dimitri is my ultimate boss."

Butts, who was close to the Conservatives' late national campaign director Doug Finley and his wife, cabinet minister Diane Finley, was let go shortly thereafter.

Correction : This story has been edited from an earlier version that incorrectly stated Soudas had made hundreds of phone calls over the weekend to try to save his job. In fact, it was calls he made this month that led some to push for his dismissal.(Mar 31, 2014 3:21 PM)

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