Dimitri Soudas meddled in partner's nomination fight for months: sources
Published Monday, March 31, 2014 10:02PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, March 31, 2014 11:14PM EDT
Ousted Conservative Party director Dimitri Soudas had been drumming up support for his nomination-seeking partner for months, knocking on doors and recruiting canvassers, sources tell CTV News.
Soudas, who was fired Sunday amid controversy surrounding MP Eve Adams’s nomination bid in a Toronto-area riding, admitted Monday that he crossed the line, but “couldn’t hold back.”
“I met the woman who I truly loved,” he told CTV’s Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife. “I couldn’t hold back. Did I step over the line? Yes, I did.”
Sources tell CTV that Soudas ignored multiple warnings about his conduct before he was dismissed. They say he went door-to-door selling party memberships for Adams, who is challenging a local chiropractor for the Conservative nomination in the newly created Oakville-North Burlington riding.
Adams currently represents Mississauga-Brampton South, but she set her sights on the new riding after she and Soudas moved.
Soudas, said to have been hand-picked by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to run the Tories’ 2015 election campaign, had a $300,000-per-year contract which stipulated that he steer clear of Adams’s nomination fight.
But sources say Soudas nevertheless drummed up support for Adams, making hundreds of phone calls and bringing in young Conservatives from Ottawa to help canvass for her.
Soudas, who quit a top communications job at the Canadian Olympic Committee to become the executive director of the Conservative Party four months ago, was seen wearing Olympic gear when he knocked on doors for Adams, sources say.
A recent kerfuffle involving Adams at an Oakville-North Burlington riding board meeting set off the chain of events that led to Soudas’s ousting.
Adams reportedly showed up at the meeting unannounced and was asked to leave after a tense exchange. After a veteran local party organizer, Wally Butts, wrote to party brass to complain about the incident, he was dismissed. That prompted outrage among local Conservatives.
After a flood of complaints, Harper instructed his chief of staff, Ray Novak, to fire Soudas over the weekend, insiders say.
“He was trying to stick up for his girlfriend. He shouldn’t have. It’s as simple as that,” said Conservative MP David Tilson, who represents the Ontario riding of Dufferin-Caledon.
Another Toronto-area Tory MP, Bernard Trottier, said Soudas “should not be interfering in open nominations.”
The Opposition NDP, meanwhile, said the Soudas controversy only raises more questions about Harper’s judgment.
Soudas told CTV that he had stepped in to help Adams after she suffered a concussion in a bad fall. But he also said that he had let the prime minister down, adding that Harper was like a father to him.