Eve Adams' campaign did everything 'by the book': chair
Andrea Janus, CTVNews.ca
Published Sunday, April 6, 2014 10:56AM EDT
Eve Adams's campaign chair says her team is "following all the rules" despite claims she misused her MP budget and other allegations during her bid for the Conservative nomination in a new Ontario riding.
Adams, MP for Mississauga-South Brampton, is seeking the nomination in Oakville-North Burlington, one of the newly created ridings for the 2015 election.
Her campaign came under fire after mailings were sent to voters in the new riding and reports of disruptive behaviour at a meeting of the riding association's board.
Stephen Sparling, Adams's volunteer campaign chair, told CTV's Question Period that the MP and her team are "doing everything by the book, making sure that we're running this campaign as per all of the rules set out by the party."
Last week, the president of the riding association's board, Mark Fedak, wrote to Prime Minister Stephen Harper to say that Adams's actions "are both negatively impacting the internal workings of our local association and are beginning to take a toll on the brand of the Party."
In the April 1 letter, Fedak alleges that Adams blocked a consulting firm from taking a contract to do pre-election research for the board. He also says Adams showed up unannounced to a Mar. 19 board meeting, began to speak and, when she was asked to leave numerous times, stood her ground and began to "verbally abuse" board members.
Harper has asked the party's national council to review the letter's allegations.
Adams has denied any wrongdoing in relation to the mailings and the other allegations contained in the letter. Sparling acknowledged that "it heated up" at the March 19 board meeting, but said "this is sort of normal."
Harper did the 'right thing'
Riding association board member Jeff Knoll told Question Period that their main concern is that Adams's actions have created an uneven playing field in the nomination race. So far, Adams's only opponent for the nomination is local chiropractor Natalia Lishchyna.
"I think an important principle for all of us is that these races need to be fair and open," said Knoll, "and they need to be conducted in such a way that everybody has an equal opportunity to participate and have the opportunity to sell memberships and get the message across and ultimately win."
Knoll denied that the riding association is trying to derail Adams's campaign, noting that some board members support her bid. Knoll said Adams should stay in the race so long as she hasn't broken any rules.
However, if her behaviour damages the party brand or compromises the riding association's ability to do its work, then she should withdraw, he said.
"This is not across party lines. This is internal politics. So when this kind of stuff happens, it hurts the family," Knoll said.
Knoll said the prime minister has "done the right thing" in calling on the national council to probe the various allegations.
Did Adams get an unfair advantage?
Meanwhile, the fight for the Conservative nomination in Oakville-North Burlington has already hit the Conservatives hard.
Harper fired Adams's fiancé, Dimitri Soudas, from his post as the party's executive director a week ago after he spent months drumming up support for her campaign, including door-knocking and recruiting volunteers. Soudas's $300,000-a-year contract stipulated that he steer clear of Adams's campaign, and he ignored numerous warnings to stop helping her.
Another of the Oakville-North Burlington riding association's allegations is that Soudas and Adams had access to the Conservative party member database before they did.
Sparling says that Adams has access to the database "like every other sitting member of the Conservative caucus." As for the mailings to the new riding, Sparling says they went to both Adams's current constituents and voters in the new riding and merely touted the government's record on issues such as tax reduction.
"There was nothing on the nomination," he said, adding that the mailings were approved by the ethics commissioner and Elections Canada.