OTTAWA – A Conservative party member in Yukon has been tasked with sorting out an ugly nomination battle in suburban Toronto that has grabbed national headlines.
Michael Lauer of Whitehorse is heading up the probe into allegations by the Oakville North-Burlington riding association that MP Eve Adams has abused her position and behaved poorly in her bid to represent the riding in 2015.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper instructed the party to investigate after his office received a letter of complaint signed by 14 of the association’s board members.
Harper said little when asked about the matter Thursday.
“In terms of a member of Parliament, as you know, there’s a nomination process in place,” Harper said during an event in Mississauga, Ont.
“To the extent there are disputes around nomination processes, these disputes are referred to the national council of the party. In our party, the leader does not appoint candidates and he does not run the nomination process. These are led by the national council of the party.”
Lauer, the head of one of the party’s internal committees, immediately began emailing members of the riding association board to gather information. He is a longtime Conservative and member of the national council.
Lauer was originally the person tasked with overseeing the nomination in the riding since former executive director Dimitri Soudas was supposed to have nothing to do with the process. Soudas and Adams are engaged.
Instead, Soudas resigned Sunday amid mounting concerns he was actively helping Adams secure the nomination, a violation of the terms of his contract.
Adams is running against Natalia Lishchyna, a local chiropractor who is supported by most of the board.
Among the allegations against Adams is that she was verbally abusive to members during a tense meeting last month, an incident she says has been exaggerated to benefit her rival.
The board also shared its concerns that Adams has had an unfair advantage by gaining access to party membership lists, and using her House of Commons mailing privileges to contact those members.
Adams has said that she has followed all rules.
She had also been the subject of an earlier complaint to the prime minister by an Ottawa gas station owner. John Newcombe accused Adams of rude behaviour during a dispute over a car wash in late December, using her car to partially block access to the gas pumps for 15 minutes.
Adams has said she merely wanted to run her car through the wash again, and was directed to different parking spots by two attendants. She said she apologized to Newcombe and regrets the incident.