POLITICS

Eve Adams Confirms She Aims To Run Against Joe Oliver, Will Move To Toronto

02/11/2015 10:17 EST | Updated 02/11/2015 10:17 EST

OTTAWA — New Liberal MP Eve Adams has confirmed she plans to run against Finance Minister Joe Oliver and move to the Toronto riding of Eglinton—Lawrence.

“It’s critical to reach out and take back riding after riding that has now gone Conservative and bring them back into the red fold,” Adams said Wednesday morning during an interview with CP24. “It’s going to take hard work at the local riding level, one riding after another and that’s how we are going to form government again.”

Adams, who on Monday shocked political observers by crossing the floor, said she’d received “nothing but an incredible warm welcome from the Liberal Party” and considered herself “just so fortunate to be here.”

“I’m looking forward to working awfully hard and awfully hard for the residents of Eglinton—Lawrence.”

Before Adams, currently the MP for Mississauga–Brampton South, can run against her former caucus mate, however, she’ll have to win the Liberal nomination.

Toronto lawyer and former crown prosecutor Marco Mendicino is already campaigning for the bid. In an email to The Huffington Post Canada on Tuesday, Mendicino highlighted his personal connections to the Toronto riding.

“I live here with my wife and our two girls. I know the people, the neighbourhoods and the issues. I am a dedicated volunteer, both in my community and as a long time Liberal member,” he said, adding that over the last six months he had built significant grassroot support.

“I am looking forward to an open and fair race,” he said.

It could be a tough fight. Tom Allison, a veteran campaign manager who ran successful election campaigns for Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Toronto Mayor John Tory, will lead Adams’ team. She told CP24 she is also getting advice from former Liberal premier David Peterson.

Oliver, the riding’s current MP, issued a statement Wednesday saying that while there is no nominated Liberal candidate in Eglinton—Lawrence, he will “continue to do what I have done for the last four years; represent the values and interests of the people of Eglinton—Lawrence.”

Adams has never represented a Toronto riding. She told CP24 she has family that lives in Eglinton—Lawrence and has volunteered there for the Red Cross.

Adams was formerly a Mississauga councillor and had attempted to run in a safer Conservative seat in the riding of Oakville North—Burlington. She and her fiancé, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s former aide and Tory party director Dimitri Soudas, bought a house and moved to that riding to help her bid.

Last summer, however, Adams was asked to drop out of that race after allegations of misconduct. On Monday, after she crossed the floor, the Conservative party issued a statement saying that it informed Adam in writing on Jan. 29 that she would be barred from running in any other riding as a Conservative candidate. Harper suggested to reporters that was why Adams had joined the Liberals.

Adams didn’t deny the letter but called the attack against her a “smear.” She told the Toronto news station that until she quit on Monday, the prime minister had been happy to let her answer questions in Parliament and represent the government at funding announcements.

Behind the scenes, Liberals are still expressing surprise that leader Justin Trudeau welcomed her into the caucus. Several believe Soudas — and the secrets he holds about the Conservative re-election strategy this fall — help tip the balance in her favour.

Adams strongly denied those assertions. “It’s not a packaged deal,” she told the interviewer. Soudas will be helping her campaign, she said, but this was about her career, not his. She also said she approached the Liberal Party.

She told CP24 one of the reasons she joined the Grits was to fight against income splitting, a new tax-break that benefits Canadian families with one high income earner allowing them to save up to $2,000. Adams said she soured on income splitting — a Tory promise she campaigned on during the 2011 election — after former finance minister, the late Jim Flaherty, voiced his disapproval of the plan.

Flaherty had doubted publicly whether the Tories should fulfill their $2.7 billion promise after studies showed 85 per cent of Canadian families would not benefit from the tax break.

Adams intends to run against Oliver by hammering the message that the Tories’ tax cut is deeply unfair. “The middle class will fund this scheme that really benefits such as a sliver of society,” she repeated Wednesday just as she had during her press conference on Monday.

The riding of Eglinton—Lawrence is one of the wealthiest in the country. Oliver won by 4,062 votes in 2011, beating out longtime Grit MP and former cabinet minister Joe Volpe. Liberals had held the seat continuously since the riding’s creation in 1979.

After HuffPost first reported on Monday that Adams planned to run in Eglinton—Lawrence, the provincial member of Parliament for the riding Liberal Mike Colle told The Canadian Press that if she became the candidate it would be over his dead body.

Colle said it was “preposterous” for a Harper Tory from Mississauga to run in a Toronto riding in which she has “no connections and no awareness.”

“You know, it's a real insult to the local Liberals in this community."

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In Photos: Eve Adams