A rookie Conservative MP is believed to be responsible for the only vote the government has lost since it formed its majority government last May.
Liberals were high-fiving in the Commons lobby recently when PEI MP Sean Casey managed to win a motion in the veterans affairs committee demanding a study of possible cuts of up to $226-million to veterans’ services and programs.
He was only able to win the vote because the parliamentary secretary to the Veterans Affairs Minister, Eve Adams, whose job it is to be at the committee and monitor it for her minister, was late. Two other Tory MPs were also late, meaning the opposition was in control.
And Mr. Casey’s motion prevailed. He said Wednesday he believes it’s the only vote the Tories have lost so far as a majority government.
“It was short-lived but it was fun while it lasted,” he added.
This is all coming to light now because Ms. Adams, 37, who was elected in May to represent the Toronto-area riding of Mississauga–Brampton South, is in the spotlight.
The Ottawa Citizen has linked her romantically to Dimitri Soudas, the former director of communications to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The two have both separated from their spouses, according to the report.
Mr. Soudas, 32, left the PMO in September to move to Toronto. At the time he said he wanted to devote more time to his wife and three young children. He did not have a job but has since landed one with the Canadian Olympic Committee.
Considered one of Mr. Harper’s most loyal strategists, Mr. Soudas aggressively controlled what ministers were allowed to say as he carefully managed the government’s message. A source close to PMO, however, says there is “a lot of disappointment” among senior officials about the new relationship.
Mr. Soudas’s “face time at PMO and his phone time is going to be massively diminished,” the source said, adding that not many people at Langevin Block will be taking their former colleague's calls now.
Ms. Adams and Mr. Soudas were together at a major fundraising event for Olympic athletes on Monday night at the National Arts Center. Their presence certainly had tongues wagging in official Ottawa.
Earlier Wednesday, CTV Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife tweeted the PMO was upset with the rookie MP because she was “in NYC shopping on Remembrance week.”
Mr. Casey, meanwhile, recalls a comical scene in the committee when it dawned on the tardy Tories that they had actually lost a vote.
“And then the three remaining Conservatives walked into the room and there was confusion, there was huddling, there was a recess, there were witnesses’ noses out of joint because that study [they were to deal with before Mr. Casey was able to get his motion]had been suspended and they had to go home,” the PEI Liberal said. “All of that hub-ub took place.”
For a short time, Mr. Casey was able to embarrass the Conservatives about their tardiness – asking a question in the House – but his victory was short-lived. The Tories, all present at the next committee meeting, put an end to his study of budget cuts.
“We are now back to the pressing business of commemorating veterans in the 21st century,” Mr. Casey said.