Former Conservative adviser Dimitri Soudas to join Liberals with Eve Adams
Michelle Zilio , CTVNews.ca
Published Monday, February 9, 2015 9:09AM EST
Last Updated Monday, April 6, 2015 10:22AM EDT
Former senior Conservative Party adviser Dimitri Soudas will join the Liberals with partner Eve Adams, who crossed the floor Monday morning, CTV News has learned.
Adams announced Monday morning that she would be leaving the Conservative caucus, where she most recently served as parliamentary secretary to health, to join the Liberal party.
It is not clear in what capacity Soudas will be working with the Liberals. According to CTV Deputy Ottawa Bureau Chief Laurie Graham, Soudas will at least work with the Liberals leading into the next election.
Soudas has worked closely with the Conservative party and Prime Minister Stephen Harper as his director of communications. Last year, he was forced out as executive director of the Conservative Party of Canada over allegations about his involvement in Adams’ Conservative nomination bid for the riding of Oakville-North Burlington. The relationship between Soudas and the Conservatives soured after the split, said Graham.
“Dimitri Soudas arrives with a handful, maybe perhaps boxes full, of information,” Graham told CTV News Channel. “Soudas has a lot of secrets. He tells people that. He knows a lot. He knows what went on in the Prime Minister’s Office. He knows a lot more about Stephen Harper than perhaps many around him.”
In an interview with CTV’s Question Period last May, Soudas described Harper as a father figure.
The news about Soudas comes hours after Adams announced she would be joining the Liberals. She made the announcement alongside Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau in Ottawa.
"I no longer feel at home in the Conservative party either politically or intellectually," she said.
Adams said her decision was a "difficult" one, following a hard year with a controversial nomination battle in her riding of Mississauga-Brampton South and health issues. She said she can no longer support the Conservatives, a party she has supported for more than 25 years.
"I can no longer support mean-spirited leadership that divides people instead of bringing them together.”
Adams specifically criticized the Conservative government's income-splitting plan, which she called a "mean-spirited" measure that only supports the richest few. The plan would allow families with children under 18 to divide their incomes in order to reduce their taxes.
Adams campaigned on the Conservatives’ income-splitting plan in the 2011 federal election.
On Monday, she added that she wants to work with a leader who “inspires,” saying that she could not support someone who fear mongers or bullies.
Adams said she has been inspired by Trudeau's support for a woman's right to choose and his handling of harassment allegations against two now-suspended Liberal MPs.
"It is time for a leader who has the ability to rally his team and all Canadians. To steer the country in a productive and united direction. That leader is Justin Trudeau," said Adams.
Adams said she approached the Liberals "some weeks ago." She said she notified the Conservatives of her decision in a letter Monday morning.
Asked about Monday’s developments, Harper did not directly address Soudas’s change of allegiance. But he did comment on Adams not being allowed to run for the Conservatives.
“I think the situation is very simple,” Harper told reporters at his joint news conference with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“The national council of our party is responsible for an honest, clean nomination process. It informed MP Adams some 10 days ago that she could not be a candidate for the party, for reasons that I think everybody understands.”
‘Pleased that Eve is joining’
Trudeau welcomed Adams with open arms.
"I know how personally challenging this decision has been for Eve. In our conversations, she's told me about the kind of advocate she wants to be, both in her community and for women's rights and for the middle class," said Trudeau. "I'm pleased that Eve is joining us today to help us do just that."
Conservative Party of Canada President John Walsh said Adams requested to seek a Conservative nomination in a new seat a couple of weeks ago, but he informed her in writing on Jan. 29 that she would not be allowed to run due to her “misconduct” during the Oakville North-Burlington nomination race.
“I communicated clearly that our party takes our nomination rules and procedures seriously, and we made a commitment to run fair and open nominations, and any misconduct from candidates, including caucus members, would not be tolerated,” said Walsh in a statement.
Adams was involved in a nasty and highly publicized nomination battle for the riding of Oakville-North Burlington last year. Both Adams and her challenger Natalia Lishchyna were accused of improper campaigning. Conservative riding association president Mark Fedak also complained about Adams disrupting a board meeting. And Adams' partner Dmitri Soudas was forced to resign as Conservative Party executive director over allegations that he attempted to intervene in the race.
At the time, Adams said she dropped out of the race due to side effects from a concussion suffered after slipping on ice and hitting her head outside of an Ottawa deli.
While Adams did not directly indicate Monday if she is still with Soudas, she said her family is supportive of her decision.
Newly appointed Defence Minister Jason Kenney said later Monday that he wishes Adams well, but noted that she had wanted to run for the Conservatives just two weeks ago.
“So all I can say is that she and Mr. Trudeau probably deserve each other,” Kenney told CTV’s Power Play.
Kenney added that he “lost track of the intrigue” between Adams and Soudas long ago, and would not speak specifically about concerns Soudas will funnel Conservative secrets to the Liberals.
Liberal foreign affairs critic Marc Garneau accused the Conservatives of “sour grapes,” noting that the party was largely silent when former finance minister Jim Flaherty appeared to change his mind on income splitting.
“Any party that loses somebody -- it’s a significant thing, and the Conservatives lost somebody who was a parliamentary secretary for health,” Garneau told Power Play. “It’s not a nobody.”
When asked why the Liberals would want to affiliate themselves with Adams, Trudeau said she has a long history in politics and has demonstrated "strength and ability" with the Conservatives. He also said Adams' decision to cross the floor demonstrates the attractiveness of the Liberal Party.
"I am recognizing that one of the keys for the Liberal Party to win the next election is to convince a lot of people who voted for different parties in the last election to vote for this party now. And when we can showcase that people of all political different stripes are turning towards the Liberal Party as a strong and capable better government, this is what we're most proud of bringing together."
Speaking Monday afternoon, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said his party would never allow a Conservative to cross the floor and join its caucus.
“What we saw again today is the Liberals stoking cynicism, increasing cynicism, in the population by allowing someone who’s supported Stephen Harper for the past nine years on every single decision he’s taken, and all off the sudden -- poof -- she decides she that doesn’t agree with herself because she’s the one who’s been agreeing with Stephen Harper. And Mr. Trudeau seems more than happy to have her on board,” said Mulcair.
Mulcair also accused the Liberals and Conservatives of pursuing the same agenda.
NDP MP Mathieu Ravignat had sought to change the rules for Parliamentarians wanting to jump ship with a bill setting the rules for such decisions. Under the bill, an MP wishing to change parties would either have to step down and serve as an independent until the next election, or could resign and run in a byelection.
“This is probably one of the most shameless examples of opportunism that we’ve seen in this country,” Ravignat told Power Play.
“This is exactly the thing that causes cynicism.”
Adams said she plans to seek a Liberal nomination in a Greater Toronto Area riding, but did not indicate which one. She plans to make an announcement on that in a couple of days. Like all other candidates, she will have to participate in an open nomination process in order to run for the party.
Adams was elected to the House of Commons in the 2011, when the Conservatives won a majority. Prior to joining federal politics, Adams served as a city councillor in the City of Mississauga and Region of Peel Councils. She is 40 years old and has one son, Jeff.