OTTAWA — Liberals who helped defeat Eve Adams in her bid to run as the party's candidate in a Toronto riding said Monday they've done Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau "a big favour.''
But Trudeau will still face criticism in the upcoming federal election for taking the Tory defector under his wing in the first place, say a Toronto political scientist and the Conservatives.
Adams had sought the Liberal nomination in Eglinton-Lawrence to run against her former fellow Conservative caucus mate, Finance Minister Joe Oliver.
But Adams, who was welcomed into the Liberal fold by Trudeau in February after she had a falling out with the Tories, was defeated in a weekend nomination vote won by Marco Mendicino.
"I think we did Trudeau a big favour by bringing in and having a candidate here who really is a genuine Liberal,'' said Ontario MPP Mike Colle, who once told The Canadian Press that Adams would win the federal nomination over his dead body.
"I'm happy to be alive and standing. I'm very glad to have survived that,'' Colle joked Monday.
But Trudeau could still be shadowed by the Adams defection through the as-yet unofficial election campaign, University of Toronto political science professor Peter Loewen predicted.
"I think it was a mistake for (Trudeau) ever to invite her in. He should have asked his caucus and given the caucus a chance to pass judgment on her membership,'' said Loewen.
"It was a strategic mistake, it was a political mistake on values. It was just a bad mistake all around.''
Already, Conservatives are hinting they aren't about to forget the defection and Trudeau's subsequent acceptance of Adams and are honing their messaging around the affair.
Oliver was quick to rub salt in, issuing a statement on the heels of Adams's defeat accusing Trudeau of trying to override the wishes of local Liberals.
And at an appearance in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., Monday to make a defence-related announcement, Tory cabinet minister Jason Kenney said Trudeau must take responsibility for what he termed a "slightly bizarre decision.''
"It's proof of his bad political judgment that he endorsed Ms. Adams,'' Kenney said.
Still, it was to Trudeau's credit that the nomination process appeared to be an open one, said Loewen.
"It appears the fix wasn't in,'' he said.
And the nomination battle may have galvanized support for the Liberals, at least in the Eglinton-Lawrence riding, say political watchers.
Volunteers came out in droves "like I've never seen before,'' to keep the nomination from Adams, Colle said.
Adams left the Harper Conservatives amid allegations of dirty tricks related to a Tory nomination battle last year.
Her public embrace by Trudeau raised eyebrows in Liberal circles.
But while some suggested she was, in fact, a good catch, there was widespread speculation at the time that Trudeau really accepted her as a secondary prize to the real target _ her fiance Dimitri Soudas. He is a former spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper and is said to have inside knowledge about every Conservative riding in the country.
Soudas left the Conservative party establishment and has since become a Liberal supporter.
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