The 2011 election had its own twists. This time, her paperwork was not in order by deadline. Records show she sought two extensions from Elections Canada, one for a late audit, another for permission to pay expenses more than a year later. She spent more than $25,000 – about one quarter of a roughly $106,000 budget – on phone-based campaigning during the race. Among the expenses Elections Canada authorized her campaign to pay later was $424.80 in spa treatments and a $260.71 Shopper’s Drug Mart bill for products such as Neutrogena cleanser and whitening toothpaste. Elections Canada would have partly reimbursed such claims.
The latest news had its origins in February, 2013, when the commission redrawing Ontario’s new electoral map, with added seats, released its first report. It created a new riding of Oakville North-Burlington. Three months later, Ms. Adams told a local newspaper she would move to, and run in, the new riding. Incidentally, the new riding is a safe seat, with 52 per cent of its electors voting Conservative in 2011.
Property records show Mr. Soudas took possession of a house in the riding in July of that year. That same month, the new map was finalized. The couple have since made that their home base on weekends and when the House is not sitting.
In the fall of 2013, Mr. Soudas ran unsuccessfully for Oakville’s local Conservative riding association, which was largely won by supporters of Natalia Lishchyna, a chiropractor who is fighting Ms. Adams for the nomination. He soon took on the role of Conservative Party executive director.
Rumblings in the riding began when Conservatives started to receive mail from Ms. Adams in Oakville, which is within the rules for an MP, but odd, given it is not her current riding. Then there was a March 19 board meeting at which Ms. Adams allegedly verbally abused members and said she would use her access to party data to look up how much the president donated to the party annually, according to an April 1 letter from the riding association to the Prime Minister.
A standoff ensued while Mr. Soudas waited in the hallway to drive home Ms. Adams, who is recovering from the concussion she suffered following a fall outside an Ottawa restaurant after her fiancé “got a hankering for corned beef” late this winter.
Under Mr. Soudas, the executive director position was more powerful than when it was held by Dan Hilton, who performed a more bureaucratic role. Mr. Soudas, for example, reported directly to the Prime Minister.
Mr. Soudas, however powerful in that role, was not hired to run the 2015 campaign. “It wasn’t like he was going to be in charge of the war room, or it wasn’t like he was going to be the one that was doing up our ads or anything like that,” the Tory insider said.
Mr. Soudas’ resignation is among several departures from prominent posts in recent years. He left the Prime Minister’s Office in June, 2011, and later that year took over communications at the Canadian Olympic Committee. He left the committee ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics to launch his own public-relations firm, Dimitri Soudas Communications. COC president Marcel Aubut praised Mr. Soudas’ work and said the committee was “disappointed” when he left since his “contribution was absolutely huge.”
Mr. Soudas is slated to return to the private sector and promises to work hard at helping his fiancée secure the nomination in the new riding.
Ms. Adams, for her part, is preparing a defence to submit to the party, but has so far refused to disclose what it says, saying she doesn’t want to fight these battles in public. The party hasn’t even formally opened the nomination race in Oakville North-Burlington. Once it does, both Ms. Adams and Ms. Lishchyna will need to have their candidacy approved to be accepted formally as candidates.
The MP says she’s on the mend and will be back to work soon.
With reports from Steven Chase, Jill Mahoney and Rick Cash