Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Top Tory quits over spat

OTTAWA—The Conservative Party lost top 2015 election organizer Dimitri Soudas yesterday, amid mounting concerns he was using his position to help his fiancee’s nomination bid in a suburban Toronto riding.
Party brass have been trying to convince grassroots Conservatives that they can count on open and fair nominations across the country, with no favouritism shown toward incumbent MPs.

But Soudas, who is close to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, appeared not to have heeded a requirement in his contract as executive director that he steer clear of the riding of Oakville-North Burlington where his partner, MP Eve Adams, intends to run.
Party sources say that despite the high connections Soudas has in the party, the evidence of interference in the Oakville nomination battle had grown too large to ignore and he had become “a distraction.”
The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
Soudas did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Riding association presidents received a sudden e-mail from party president John Walsh late yesterday evening informing them of the departure.
“Earlier this evening I was notified of the resignation of Dimitri Soudas as executive director, effective immediately,” Walsh wrote in a e-mail obtained by The Canadian Press.
The straw that appears to have broken the camel’s back was word within the party that a door-knocking campaign for Adams in Oakville-North Burlington had been organized straight out of Soudas’ office at party headquarters.
A source said there also was a report to the party that a recent fundraising meet-and-greet for Adams in the riding featured Soudas’ name.
The interim replacement for Soudas is Simon Thompson, the party’s top technology man and former executive at Mitel.
Soudas only had come back to work for the Conservatives in December—leaving a senior job at the Canadian Olympic Committee just months before the games in Sochi.
Prior to that, Soudas was director of communications inside the prime minister’s office.
He had worked alongside Harper since opposition days.
Adams, meanwhile, also is facing accusations that she misused public funds when she sent mail into the riding she wants to represent using House of Commons resources.
She has said she did not break any rules.

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