The above title is meant only partly in jest for I can’t see an upside to Justin Trudeau’s decision to welcome so warmly former Conservative MP Eve Adams into the Liberal caucus.
And, judging from opinions expressed in both conservative- and progressive-leaning media, there seems to be a general reaction that borders on incredulity or, at least, surprise at Trudeau’s enthusiastic welcome of a tainted former political archenemy.
I suppose it’s true that the ruling Conservatives’ loss of a seat and parliamentary secretary is a victory of sorts for the third-place Grits, but that victory seems destined to be short-lived.
Given Adams’ tarnished political credentials, will the Liberal leader really spend political capital to ensure she receives a nomination to run in the Oct. 19 general election?
Apparently, Adams has her eye on the Eglinton-Lawrence Toronto riding. However, Liberal MPP Mike Colle, who has represented Eglinton-Lawrence at Queen’s Park for nearly 20 years, is quoted in the Globe and Mail as saying that Adams will run in Eglinton-Lawrence “over my dead body.”
Moreover, given there are other potential candidates—Lawyer Marco Mendicino, a former Crown attorney, for one—who have better knowledge of local issues and who have a head start in signing up new members and volunteers in the riding, I just don’t see Trudeau giving Adams his usual “star candidate” treatment by forcing her nomination on the Eglinton-Lawrence riding association.
So where does that leave Adams vis-à-vis the October election? Her political experience has all centred in the western part of the GTA. She currently represents Mississauga-Brampton South and had previously served as a councillor for the City of Mississauga and Region of Peel. And, while still a Tory, Adams was involved in a nomination battle for the federal riding of Oakville North—Burlington.
That contest became so messy—and, in the words of The Toronto Star’s columnist Chantal Hébert, “rife with alleged dirty tricks”—that the Tories suspended the nomination and fired Adams’ fiancé, Dimitri Soudas, who was the Conservative party’s executive director, for meddling in the nomination fight on Adams’ behalf.
The Grits used a press conference to announce Adams’ floor-crossing (some call this ratting) and to take some partisan shots at the Tories. Adams said:
I cannot support mean-spirited measures that benefit only the richest few. I can no longer support mean-spirited leadership that divides people instead of bringing them together. We need a kind, generous and strong leadership that champions a shared vision for how to make Canada work for everyone. I want to work with someone who inspires, not with fear mongerers and bullies.”
It must be noted that, although this supports the narrative Trudeau has been trying to sell Canadians, it comes from a person who had recently been informed in writing that she would not be permitted to run for her former party in the next election due to misconduct from the Oakville North-Burlington nomination race.
Note also that as Hébert points out:
For her end-of-year statement in the House of Commons last December, then-Conservative MP Eve Adams chose to brag about her government’s upcoming round of tax breaks.
“‘Thanks to our work, Canadian families can be assured that their hard-earned money is making its way back into their bank accounts,’ Adams told the Commons on the week that it rose for the holidays.”
As they say, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”
So, having successfully poached Eve Adams, the Liberals seemingly get yards of print and TV pundit attention—most of which is negative—and not much more. Except, of course, for Dimitri Soudas, who says he plans to work for Adams’ Liberal campaign next fall so has presumably turned rat along with his fiancé.
Soudas was one of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s fiercest loyalists and is said to have been an architect of the Tories’ 2015 election strategy. He also formerly served as the prime minister’s communications director.
Only time will tell how damaging Soudas’ defection to the Grits re-election prospects will be, if at all. But it seems apparent to me that he is the real, and perhaps only, “prize” the Liberals can claim.