OTTAWA – The Conservative party has delivered notice to MP Eve Adams that for now she can run for the nomination in an Ontario riding, but her conduct will be closely scrutinized.
Party president John Walsh sent Adams a sharply worded letter Wednesday night, following a meeting of the Conservative governing body.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper had ordered the party to look into allegations against Adams lodged by the riding association in Oakville North-Burlington. The complaints ranged from concerns about her personal behaviour to her use of party and Commons resources.
“As a result of the (association) letter of April 1 and subsequent communications, national council has grave concerns in respect to the manner by which you have conducted your nomination campaign,” Walsh, wrote in a letter obtained by The Canadian Press.
“As you are aware, our party is in the midst of conducting fair, open and transparent nomination contests in all 338 (ridings) across the country. We will tolerate nothing less.”
Walsh went on to say that any future improprieties could be reviewed by the party’s national candidate selection committee and that could lead to disqualification.
The most direct rebuke was over a complaint that Adams was verbally abusive to party members during a riding board meeting on March 19. A letter from 14 board members described the incident.
Adams says the account was exaggerated by Tories who support her rival, Natalia Lishchyna.
“The national council insists that our party’s members and activists be treated with the respect and appreciation that they deserve,” Walsh wrote in the letter.
“In future, when interacting with any members … please keep this in mind and refrain from asserting any authority or position other than your position as a fellow member under our party’s constitution.”
The party sidestepped other complaints made by the riding association, including an allegation that Adams improperly used her House of Commons resources and the internal party database to contact potential supporters.
She currently represents the non-adjacent riding of Mississauga-Brampton South.
Walsh told Adams that the party wants an accounting of how much she’s spent so far on her nomination, noting that her limit is $17,721.
Her team has been asked to account for “all non-monetary contributions, including the work of professional persons who have not charged the nomination campaign.” That was a reference to Adams’s fiance, communications professional Dimitri Soudas.
Soudas resigned as the party’s executive director late last month after it came to light he was using his position to help Adams with the nomination, contravention a clause in his employment contract.
Stephen Sparling, chairman of the Adams nomination campaign offered a brief comment on the situation: “We look forward to being positive and earning the support of party members in Oakville North-Burlington.”
Her rival did not respond to requests for reaction.
One insider said the party was hesitant to disqualify Adams because the grassroots should have the final say in who represents them.
Still, it was the second time in the month that the national council has issued such a rebuke. The party also scolded MP Rob Anders for what it felt were misleading calls made in his own nomination battle in a Calgary riding.
The party is holding open nominations for the first time since it formed government, meaning incumbent MP’s get no special protection from challengers.