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Updated: Wed, 02 Apr 2014 17:57:24 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Eve Adams riding fight: Party investigates at PM's request



Eve Adams riding fight: Party investigates at PM's request

Prime Minister Stephen Harper asked the party's top brass look into new allegations of inappropriate behaviour by Ontario Conservative MP Eve Adams, putting a question mark over her political future.

Sources tell CBC News the Conservative Party's national council is already in the process of investigating new complaints against Adams.

In a letter obtained by CBC News, Mark Fedak, president of the Oakville North-Burlington Conservative riding association, said Adams' actions were "negatively impacting the internal workings of our own local association and taking a toll on the brand of the party."

Oakville North-Burlington, a riding newly created for the 2015 election, is at the centre of a bitter battle that has cost Adams' fiancé, DimitriSoudas, his job as the party's executive director.

Adams is seeking the party's nomination in the new riding, where she and Soudas currently share a house. 

Soudas was removed this week after a dramatic confrontation with senior party officials over using his position to advance Adams's bid for the nomination in the new riding.

End of nomination bid?

Under the party's constitution, the Conservative national council can't stop Adams from seeking the nomination in Oakville North-Burlington, but it can suggest to the candidate nomination committee that she's a poor fit.

The candidate nomination committee, made up of six members from the national council and the local riding association, has the power to approve or deny candidates before a writ period. Other parties have similar committees.

Members of the Conservative Party's national council are going through the letter of complaint from Fedak to decide whether Adams broke the rules on the use of party's voter database and will report back to the party and the prime minister. 

The letter, sent to the Prime Minister's Office, senior party officials and the Ontario Conservative caucus, alleges Adams showed up at the new riding's board meeting on March 19 and demanded to know how much money Fedak had donated to the party. She allegedly threatened to use her access to the Conservative electronic database known as CIMS to look up the information herself.

'I'm fed up'

Board member Jeff Knoll, who is also an Oakville municipal councillor, said Adams was knocking on doors in the new riding and telling people she "was, quote, unquote, asked by the prime minister to run in this riding."

Knoll said Adams was acting as if she were already the candidate.

"So at the end of the day, I'm fed up with it, I'm fed up with the emails, I'm fed up with the accusations, I'm fed up with the embarrassment to the party, coming out in the media and everything."

Knoll explained he's been involved in politics since he was 14, but is beginning to regret what he calls his voluntary re-entry into partisan politics. He explained he's a supporter of chiropractor Natalia Lishchyna, who is also interested in the nomination.

"When I first heard Dimitri was hired, the alarm bells went off, but I had the assurance that Dimitri had agreed to and was asked to recuse himself from any involvement in this riding," Knoll said in an interview with CBC News.

"For me, living in the glass bubble of public office, I cringe at some of the things she does," he said about Adams.

"I'm not even sure I could support her if she was the nominated candidate, even though I'm a life-long member of the Conservative Party."

Refused work

Fedak writes in the letter to Harper that he asked Adams to leave the March 19 meeting a total of nine times.

Adams's response, wrote Fedak, was to "continue to filibuster the meeting without ever being recognized with a right to speak."

Adams is also accused of telling a company contacted by the riding executive to produce coloured maps on voting history in the new riding to refuse to do the work.

Mitch Wexler, principal at Politrain Consulting, wouldn't discuss a specific campaign, but said that he generally doesn't work for two sides of one race.

"Often, the work that I do is strategic and so I don't do work on both sides of a campaign even if I am perfectly friendly with people on both sides of the campaign. Ethically, it's important for me not to be in a position where I'm in a conflict," Wexler told CBC News.

Adams's supporters have said the board of directors of the Oakville North-Burlington riding association is made up mostly of supporters of her competitor for the nomination, Lishchyna.

'We are perplexed'

Fedak writes that he worries whether she has given the same order to other companies.

"We are perplexed as to how someone who was never elected, either by nomination or through a general election, can veto suppliers to our EDA [electoral district association]."

Soudas had assured the party in writing that he would not interfere in any riding nomination contest that involved Adams even though his job was to oversee nominations in 337 other ridings in preparation for the 2015 election.

Adams, who currently represents the riding of Mississauga-Brampton South, has not been in the Commons this week, but has been active on Twitter and her absence has reportedly raised the ire of the Conservative Party whip.

Fedak, contacted Wednesday by CBC News, said his letter is a "private matter" and refused to comment.

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