OTTAWA – Tory defector Eve Adams’ willingness to prove her mettle in a difficult Toronto riding was a key part of the decision to welcome her into the federal Liberal party, Justin Trudeau says.
Adams confirmed Wednesday she intends to seek the Liberal nomination in Eglinton-Lawrence, hoping to take on Finance Minister Joe Oliver in the election scheduled for October.
She currently represents Mississauga-Brampton South but last year attempted to switch to the newly created Oakville North-Burlington riding, where she became embroiled in an ugly Conservative nomination fight last year.
She and her opponent were forced to withdraw amid allegations of dirty tricks on both sides. Late last month, the governing party barred her from running anywhere due to the alleged misconduct in Oakville.
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In an interview Wednesday with Winnipeg radio station CJOB, Liberal Leader Trudeau conceded Adams’ baggage did give him pause when she approached him about switching parties.
“Certainly, there is always a reflection to be had around this. But Eve has been a very strong local voice, municipal councillor for many, many years, deeply committed to service.”
Trudeau indicated that Adams’ willingness to do some tough slogging in a difficult riding was central to his decision to welcome her into Liberal ranks.
“One of the things that we agreed is that she’s going to have to convince an awful lot of Liberals and local folks that she is the best voice for them … and then she’s going to take on someone who is a pillar of the Conservative party to demonstrate her strength and her value as a politician.”
Oliver did not appear overly concerned, noting in a statement that the Liberals have yet to nominate a candidate to run against him.
“In the meantime, I will continue to do what I have done for the last four years; represent the values and interests of the people of Eglinton-Lawrence,” he said.
Oliver may yet benefit from a split in Liberal ranks over Adams’ defection.
The riding’s provincial Liberal MPP, Mike Colle, told The Canadian Press on Tuesday it’s “preposterous” to think a former Tory from Mississauga can simply parachute into a riding and a party she knows nothing about.
In an interview Wednesday with Toronto radio station CP24, Adams said she has some family in the riding, worked there for a time and intends to buy a house in the constituency.
“I can tell you that I have received a great deal of local support but it is going to come down to meeting with people, winning them over and ensuring them that in fact I am here to work awfully hard and to advocate for them,” she said.
The riding was a Liberal stronghold until 2011 when Oliver defeated former Liberal cabinet minister Joe Volpe by a comfortable margin of about 4,000 votes.
Volpe had been considering running again but insiders say he’s decided to remain on the sidelines, as has his son, Flavio.
According to insiders, Adams met with Volpe on Tuesday and asked him to co-chair her campaign. He declined.
Lawyer Marco Mendicino has already been cleared by the Liberal vetting committee and has been campaigning for the nomination. He is emphasizing that he’s a longtime Liberal with deep roots in the riding.