OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper has asked the Conservative party to investigate a series of allegations made by grassroots members against Ontario MP Eve Adams, part of an unfolding controversy that has already claimed a key campaign director.
Adams is in a heated battle for the Tory nomination in a suburban Toronto riding.
Her fiance Dimitri Soudas was forced to resign as the party’s executive director amid mounting concerns he was using his position to help her win.
The party has been trying to signal to members across the country that it wants fair and open nominations for the 2015 election, with no favouritism shown to incumbent MPs.
Now the Conservative riding association board in Oakville North-Burlington has written to ask for Harper’s help in resolving issues with Adams’ conduct.
“We are all committed to doing our best to elect a new Conservative MP for our community, for our party, for our majority government and for you,” riding association president Mark Fedak wrote in a letter signed by 28 board members.
“But recently we have been running into obstacles beyond our control and believe only your leadership can provided the needed solution.”
Jason MacDonald, a spokesman for Harper, said the matter was being addressed.
“The Prime Minister’s Office has received a copy of the letter and he’s asked national council to review it and follow up accordingly,” MacDonald said of the party’s governing body.
A Conservative source, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, added: “We are taking it very seriously and are looking into the allegations.”
Adams was not immediately available for comment. She currently represents the non-adjacent riding of Mississauga-Brampton South, and the majority of the board in the new riding supports her rival, chiropractor Natalia Lishchyna.
The fact that she elected to run in a completely different riding has puzzled some of her caucus colleagues, as well as longtime party members in the area.
Adams is accused of intervening to prevent a campaign expert from working with the riding on election analysis. She also allegedly sought to “filibuster” and “hijack” a board meeting last month, refusing to leave even after she was asked to attend the following meeting.
“Our board, reflective of many different founding groups, is now fraught with issues of whether it is safe to attend a meeting without being verbally attacked, and whether volunteering for our party is worth the abuse,” Fedak wrote.
Adams has said that reports about the tenor of last month’s confrontation have been exaggerated, and that any party member has the right to attend such meetings.
She is also accused of using internal party membership data to contact Conservatives in the riding. The association wants the party to create clearer rules.
Adams has also acknowledged using her House of Commons mailing privileges to reach out to would-be constituents, but insists she followed all the rules. Her campaign manager says she approached Elections Canada about the mailouts, although it remains unclear whether she intends on declaring the material as a nomination expense.
Declaring it as such, however, might run afoul of rules that prohibit MPs from using Commons resources for political purposes.