All about Eve—and suddenly Steve

An update on the kind of day Justin Trudeau, Eve Adams and Stephen Harper are having

Chris Wattie/Reuters

Chris Wattie/Reuters

Tap to listen as you read the intro, for full effect.

The Canadian Greater Plumed Parliamentary Floor-Crossing is a peculiar beast. It appears at odd intervals and emits a characteristic squawk: two parts proclamation of allegiance to high ideals, one part denial of opportunism. It is amphibious and nomadic. There have been many sightings this season in Alberta. But this morning, a particularly brightly plumed specimen was spotted within sight of the Parliament buildings in Ottawa.

“One of the many things that have impressed me about Eve Adams in recent weeks is her commitment to public service,” Justin Trudeau, leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, told a roomful of aghast reporters. He called his new recruit “value-driven” and pronounced himself “incredibly proud of the process we’ve established” for selecting candidates. I was unable to attend the news conference in person, and it’s probably for the best, because, simply watching it on the Internet, I had so many questions, I was fit to bust. Samples: What are the other things that have impressed him in recent weeks about Eve Adams? And: Does his process for selecting candidates involve, by any chance, a jug of hooch and a wheelbarrow?

Live sightings of the Canadian Greater Plumed Parliamentary Floor-Crossing inevitably provoke certain responses from other fauna in the fragile parliamentary ecosphere. This includes prompt assertions from the specimen’s former neighbours that they are well shut of her. And indeed, Conservatives—who were still, as recently as last week, positioning Adams in the Helena Guergis Memorial PM-Softening Seat within the camera frame with Prime Minister Stephen Harper—flocked to Twitter to announce that she was, all along, a pestilence.

Related reading: Tory Eve Adams quits to run for Liberals in next election 

Another conditioned response to a floor-crossing sighting is the chorus of protestations from members of the specimen’s new flock that any inconvenient questions are low and scurrilous. Thus it fell to Trudeau to remonstrate with scribes, who insisted on asking about Dimitri Soudas—a former prime ministerial communications director and Prime Ministerially hand-picked Conservative Party of Canada executive director—who took a break between those two jobs to “spend more time” with his family before, er, floor-crossing to Adams’s side, where he sought to arrange her nomination in a process he was contractually obligated to ignore. He told Global News his loyalty to her was “eternal” and the CBC he would “breach any contract” that forbade him from helping her. (A quick peek at Soudas’s Twitter account shows he has successfully defended his master’s thesis. So there’s that.)

Trudeau and Adams were sorely vexed by this line of questioning. “This is all about Eve,” Trudeau said. Which led many of us to look up the plot of the 1950 Bette Davis melodrama All About Eve. Which cannot have been the effect Trudeau was seeking. Here’s a great line from that movie, spoken by George Sanders as the theatre critic Addison DeWitt:

“That I should want you at all suddenly strikes me as the height of improbability. But that in itself is probably the reason: You’re an improbable person, Eve, and so am I. We have that in common. Also our contempt for humanity and inability to love and be loved, insatiable ambition, and talent. We deserve each other.”

But I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.

The floor-crossing has been making a comeback lately after having seemed, for most of a decade, to be an endangered species. In the odd late ’90s, when the leader of the Opposition himself, Preston Manning, was proposing to mutate his own party into a hybrid with bits of a smaller conservative party, allegiances were fluid and every party sought refugees from the others. Jean Chrétien was the net winner throughout that period. On one memorable occasion, the day after Joe Clark won a by-election so he could at last lead the Progressive Conservatives from inside the House, Chrétien announced that three Quebec MPs elected as Progressive Conservatives at the previous election—David Price, Diane St.-Jacques and André Harvey—would now sit as Liberals.

Related reading: Eve Adams, Dimitri Soudas: The real story 

Later floor-crossings seemed increasingly threadbare. Chrétien roped in Joe Peschisolido, a former long-shot Canadian Alliance leadership candidate who resembled a Dick Tracy villain. Paul Martin recruited Belinda Stronach, a car-parts heiress who was reputed to have been backed by Brian Mulroney and Mike Harris for the leadership of Stephen Harper’s party. The Liberals spent years afterward according credibility to Stronach and never noticing that their own store of credibility was being steadily depleted, perhaps in part for precisely this reason. But surely history doesn’t repeat itself.

Just before the first anniversary of his election as PM, Harper announced that Wajid Khan, a Mississauga Liberal, would sit as a Conservative, travel to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and counsel Harper on policy for that region. Khan was never heard from again. Harper has not managed to recruit any MPs since, though bits of the NDP keep shearing off and flying in assorted directions. Perhaps the effort no longer interests him.

I was set to spend the rest of the morning parsing the significance of the Eve Adams floor-crossing when I was interrupted by a flurry of activity across the pond. The Prime Minister had announced a cabinet shuffle. To compensate for last week’s surprise departure from politics by John Baird, Harper appointed former defence minister Rob Nicholson to Foreign Affairs; former jobs minister Jason Kenney to Defence; and former Pierre Poilievre, perhaps the Conservative MP the Conservatives’ opponents most love to hate, to Employment and Social Development. Liberals on Twitter immediately started to complain that Poilievre now holds a portfolio that once resided between the sainted hands of Ken Dryden. Guess you shouldn’t have lost all those elections, guys.

Having moved key players into key cabinet portfolios, Harper will end the day in a crisis meeting on Ukraine and Russia with the chancellor of Germany. Trudeau will come up with something, I’m sure. A fun Abacus poll last week suggested Harper is the major-party leader most respondents would trust to run a large company, counsel an investor, or negotiate a contract. Respondents imagined Trudeau would be the best leader to sing a song, babysit a pet or survive in the wilderness. Today, both leaders seemed hard at work deepening their differences.



All about Eve—and suddenly Steve

  1. Good heavens! What was the Liberal Party thinking? She is clearly a Conservative reject!
    Trudeau’s judgement surely must be questioned.

    • Well….to “get ahead” Eve, (very attractive) hooked up with a conservative power-broker, and when things fell apart and this power broker had to leave the fold……things got less attractive for a career in politics.

      When Dimitri had to “take a leave of absence” after it was found he was messing with the rules to help out his fiance……things are again less attractive; for the attractive Eve.

      When Eve was told she would not be selected to run for Conservatives again…….she suddenly had a change of heart and saw the feckless trudeau as a lifeline to her quickly diminishing prospects for a career in politics. She is now a Liberal.

      Next step in the process:
      Eve will stick with Dimitri a while longer if he can help her get elected………………but after she doesn’t think he can help her any more….dimitri will soon be dumped as well.

      She’s a political gold-digger……Harper should send a gift basket to Trudeau.

      • Her looks are irrelevant.

        • True,

          As far as policy and ideas are concerned. However, if you are the type of person who uses your looks to get ahead….they are very relevant.

          Say goodbye Dimitri…..after she’s elected (or if)….you’re gone. She’ll find someone else to carry her baggage for her.

    • Tell me they don’t look like Ken and Barbie up on the stage!
      This is fantastic news from the perspective of a neoCon (that’s what the Libbies call us because labeling is easier than discussing). Ya’ll can have her. Actually, we’ve got a pudgy little Senator you can take too.

  2. Paul Wells is usually the kind of analyst a reader could be confident would write a balanced researched column or more recently social media essay. This latest tirade is definitely short on both. Re read it Paul!

    • It was very much to-the-point. Eve is not a great candidate, and Trudeau should find more worthy ways of spending his time than embracing such candidates to shake off his “best leader to bake a cake” image. Especially when Harper is doing more important stuff with his time.

      Also, this is a blog post. Not a column or essay.

    • This has every conservative a little nervous. As bad as the pair are, Trudeau comes out a winner, after all, they did pick up Harpers, Sammy ” The Bull ” Gravano (Soudas), the guy who knows where all the bodies are buried. Sometimes you have to get your hands a little dirty, not too dirty, but you have to think like your opponent. This is the third time in less than a year Harper has been shuffling the cabinet and the media is still carrying the same message as the last three times, this is the shuffle that will take Harper into the election of October 2015. How many more times will this guy(Harper) do the shuffle, I mean how many mulligans do you get to have to be ready for an election. It’s turning more like, a house of cards crashing, pardon the cliché. The author is a conservative writer, he is a part of the mafia conservative Gee-Had.

  3. More Conservative bias from the mainstream media! First, Wells opens his post with talk about birds — clearly an attempt to distract readers from this excellent addition to the Liberal party (is this a political blog, or a bird-watching blog, for heaven’s sakes??). Then he has the audacity to twist the Abacus poll : Canadians don’t want Trudeau babysitting their pets; they want him babysitting their KIDS. Huge difference there. Pets are one thing. Kids require a totally different, more involved level of care.

    (Sarcasm aside, I still remember reading Paul Wells’ informative article in the National Post on Bill Graham when he (Graham, not Wells) was appointed to foreign affairs back in the day. It was informative, specifically because I didn’t know much about Graham. I could say the same about Nicholson – don’t know much about him, but would love PW’s take on this.)

    • I completely disagree. I dont want Trudeau babysitting my kids, I want him to shovel my driveway!!

  4. Of course floor crossing is a sham, but then again democracy is a sham, so this is just a tiny sham within a bigger sham. Real power resides in the Media-Civil Service-Academia complex. This is just a show to entertain the plebes.

    • That you think academia has power is hilarious. While I have no doubt that academics would love to have more influence on public policy (and I would support such a move), anyone who’s spent some time in academia would know that academics are largely ignored outside of the academy.

      • Academia is the ring of power for the progressive Sauron. It’s not a direct, immediate kind of power. But if you had any kind of self-awareness you would note that the radical non-sense pushed by academia 20 years ago is received wisdom today. And it’s a safe bet that the radical non-sense pushed by academia today will be received wisdom in 20 years.

      • That’s because most people outside of the classroom understand that most professors are self-important twits.

        One simply has to attend any University in Canada to understand that students are deferential while in class…..and then spend the rest of their time yakking about how full of crap their professors are.

  5. The Tories can’t really say much about floor crossings either….Wildrose anyone ??? or the Reform/Alliance merger that could also be seen as floor crossing as well….people have change of minds….changes of heart and so on….not everything is cynical ploys orcrossing to find a place where the sun shines brighter…it does happen you know….people do take walks in the snow…

    • I think Paul Wells was criticizing the choice of candidate that Trudeau has welcomed with open arms, more than the actual act of floor-crossing.

    • Alan, the Wildrose was a provincial party in competition with the P Conservative party.

      The Wildrose folks share a lot of the values of the current Fed Government, but they are different entitites.

      If an MP crosses the floor for purely ideological reasons, it may be a valid response. The case we are discussing however, is blatant opportunism by Eve Adams after she learned her own party was giving her the boot.

  6. Is this snarky, petty, anti Trudeau biased wandering around going to continue all year?
    That thing about an old movie was pointless and silly and certainly not even clever.
    Nothing to say? Don’t write anything.

    • Did the mean man say something that hurt your feelings? Dont listen to him. How can anyone not like Trudeau? I mean just look at that face, he has that same proud look my son has after he makes a big poopoo in the toilet. It’s just adorable.

      • Wells would love your comparison to your son. Very clever.

  7. I feel like we can chalk this up as being the Deflategate (or Deflateghazi, if you will) of Canadian politics. We have a marginal controversy (single MP floor crossing/deflated footballs in the first half of a blowout), a press conference with a hunky QB (Trudeau/Brady) and a brilliant mastermind behind it all (Bellicheck/Harper…who doesn’t make for a great fit here due to him being on an opposing side to Trudeau, but if you can make a better Deflategate analogy, so be it).

    • You have to work Dimitri into this. The puppet and the puppeteer.
      The commish behind it all?

      • Dimitri could potentially be cast as the shadowy, mysterious ballboy who took the footballs into the washroom for 90 seconds. Goodell could be played by Goodell, because in many respects he has already entered Bond-villian territory. That being said, if Goodell could grow the Canadian economy at the same proportional rate as NFL revenues, I’d vote for him regardless of what party he was affiliated with.

  8. Regardless what ones politics might be, this is truly one of the best, most erudite columns I have read in a very long time, anywhere. The last paragraph is deftly acidic, but the quote from All About Eve, which is perhaps the best speech from one of the best screenplays of all time, reflects an insouciant literacy that is sorely lacking in what passes for journalism these days. Back to the last paragraph though, DeWitt would be envious of Paul Wells’ homicidally urbane wit.

    By the way, for those of you commentors who are suggesting any partisan bias on Mr. Wells’ part, you really should get out more often i.e. read more of this work. He has struck me as largely party-blind, with perhaps a bit of a lean to the natural ruling party, so save your ad hominem attacks for more worthy targets.

    • While I think Paul leans more to the Liberal side of the fence…..I definitely agree he makes everyone a target if he feels they need to be.

      I think Paul’s main thesis in anything he writes, is that the author of his column is smarter than the characters he is discussing. Given the pool of subject candidates…..he may be on to something.

  9. It’s a bit of a puzzler to be sure, but perhaps it simply reinforces the “Harper is a control freak and people are abandoning him” meme that gained some strength with Baird’s announcement last week.

    Or not.

    My completely wild guess is that she did not tell them she was barred from running again for the CPC.

    • Gayle wrote:

      “My completely wild guess is that she did not tell them she was barred from running again for the CPC.”

      BINGO !!!!!

      The same thought I had.

  10. Both sexist and silly…..barstool commentary, with the usual audience.

    • And indeed, here you are.

      • Yup, somebody has to try and keep you in journalism instead of gossip.

        And without your underwear showing….especially in summer!

        • The last paragraph in Well’s piece should be saved for future reference to set a framework as columns are published through the coming campaign.

          • LOL Wells is still looking for his senate seat…..and unaware that since the economy is falling apart…. surviving in a wilderness and babysitting are just the abilities we need these days.

    • LOL “sexist” because anyone who doesnt worship every woman in every circumstance 24 hours a day is a “sexist”.

    • Emily wrote:
      “Both sexist and silly…..barstool commentary, with the usual audience.”

      I guess that explains her posts. Emily proclaims to be a world traveller, but the truth is she is just sitting in bars getting wasted prior to hitting the Macleans website.

  11. Steve Paikin tweeted earlier today that he had it on good information that Dimitri Soudas and Eve Adams have split up. Soudas has yet to address any members of the media.

    • I’ll offer a correction on my earlier comment, in that Soudas appears to be having a twitter war with a few folks like MP Mike Lake at this moment, defending and supporting Ms Adams political actions. Some suggest the new attack dog Dimitri, will only be putting up lawn signs for the Liberals though. Or maybe Justin has a loanable pug to walk on the campaign trail?

  12. All about Eve—and suddenly Steve

    In other words: It’s all Eve ‘n Stephen

  13. Congratulations Mr. Wells. FINALLY, you take a poke at the Liberals and little Justin-long overdue. Federally this Trudeau will suffer from the same issue that Olivia Chow did in the Toronto mayoralty. The more dumb things he says and does (like accepting this discard as a member of his party), the lower he will fall. Keep it up Justin-love it!!

  14. Talk about addition by subtraction. This is like releasing the stuxnet virus into Libland. And I love how people paint Soudas as some evil genius. Have you ever heard that dope.
    Good luck with them Justy

  15. The Liberal Party of Canada wants You!

    Lots of entry level positions left to choose from! (just not the PM position, hah hah)

    Just like a real political party, no awkward ethics discussion to endure. And hey, family values are important to us. Whatever family you’re with today. No problem.

    Big hair and Botox a plus! just don’t outdo JT’s hair, okay? Party no-no.

    But wait, there’s more!

    Next 10 sign-ups will get a free copy, autographed by The Man himself, of the Liberal Party Policies. Three pages of insight, never before released to the public. See how we’re going to run the country, or something. Whatever.

    your call is important to us.

    Operators standing by

  16. Not Justin’s brightest move. With all the shenanigans of her nomination attempt, JT should have had the good sense to steer clear.

  17. The Liberals do know the story of the Trojan Horse, don’t they?

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