A report by the staff of the governing Conservative Party is recommending that neither MP Eve Adams nor her rival be allowed to seek the nomination in a Toronto-area riding contest marked by bitter accusations of misconduct.
Sources familiar with the probe caution, however, that the Conservative Party has yet to decide on a course of action and a committee tasked with that has yet to meet.
The Tories postponed the nomination contest for Oakville North-Burlington in late May after back-and-forth allegations that included charges of paying for supporters’ party memberships and improper robo-calls.
The battle between Ms. Adams, currently the Member of Parliament for the nearby riding of Mississauga-Brampton South, and chiropractor Natalia Lishchyna has already had far-reaching consequences for the Harper Tories.
Dimitri Soudas, a former top aide to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Ms. Adam’s fiancé, was forced to resign his position as executive director of the party after he personally intervened in the tightly contested nomination race on behalf of Ms. Adams.
It’s not yet certain both candidates will be disqualified.
One thing that will be weighing on the Tories’ national candidate selection committee is the consequences of disqualifying two strong potential candidates for the riding, possibly leaving the Conservatives without a strong figure to carry the party banner in Oakville North-Burlington in the 2015 election.
“Nothing’s been decided and it’s not uncommon for the [selection committee] to go a different direction than what’s recommended to them,” a source cautioned.
Ms. Lischyna’s campaign has alleged that Ms. Adams was buying party memberships for her supporters and provided the Tories with what it called evidence to support the charge. Paying for others’ memberships is not against federal election law but is a contravention of Conservative Party rules.
Ms. Adams’ campaign has accused Ms. Lischyna of breaking federal telecom regulatory rules when making automated phone calls.
The Conservatives at this point could disqualify both candidates, or eliminate one and allow the other to be acclaimed; or remove one and open the contest to new challengers.
A source familiar with the process said it’s expected the matter will be resolved this month.
Ms. Adams was warned by Tory Party brass this spring that they have “grave concerns” about how she’s conducted her nomination campaign for Oakville North-Burlington, including the manner in which she had treated party members.
She had faced the risk of being barred from seeking the nomination after Mr. Harper was presented with accusations that she had been granted unfair advantages in this race, had interfered with the district’s election planning, and verbally abused party members.
The Conservative National Council opted against barring Ms. Adams from seeking the Tory nomination in Oakville North-Burlington, but had cautioned her they would be keeping a close eye on the contest.