OTTAWA — Conservative MP Eve Adams has crossed the floor to join Justin Trudeau’s Liberals.
The MP for Mississauga — Brampton South plans to run under the Liberal banner in the 2015 federal election, somewhere in the Greater Toronto Area though she has declined to say precisely where for now.
Adams made the surprise announcement with Trudeau in Ottawa Monday morning, saying she “no longer feels at home in the Conservative party, either politically or intellectually.” She said her former party has drifted from its progressive conservative roots and criticized its income-splitting plan as a tax break for the wealthy — although she ran on this promise during the last federal election.
Adams also said she can no longer support "mean-spirited" leadership. She praised Trudeau for standing up for a woman’s right to choose and his leadership in dealing with sexual assault allegations in his own caucus.
Trudeau lauded Adams as a very effective municipal councillor, someone who “demonstrated strength and ability at a tremendous level in the Conservative government” and “deep commitment to public service.”
He told reporters one of the key things the Liberal party needs to win the next election is to gain the support of Canadians who previously voted for other parties. Welcoming Adams, Trudeau suggested, would showcase that people of all different political stripes are turning towards the Liberal party for a strong government.
“Caucus knows that we have to grow in order to be competitive and this is what it is all about,” he said.
Adams is the fiancée of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s former director of communications Dimitri Soudas. He was fired last March as the Conservative Party of Canada’s executive director for meddling in her Tory nomination battle. Adams suggested Soudas was supportive of her decision to join the Grits and would work with her campaign.
“I can tell you that my entire family is 100 per cent supportive,” she responded when asked about Soudas.
A senior Liberal said Soudas comes to the Liberals with valuable information. Soudas was head of the Conservative party when it drafted its upcoming re-election strategy and the tactics it would use, such as leveraging the popularity of Harper’s wife Laureen with voters.
Trudeau said he expected Adams brought with her a family and team of supporters that “would be quite active” as she attempts to win the nomination in that unsaid riding.
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Adams was facing a tough challenge from the Liberals in her own riding this fall. She had attempted to run in the safer Tory seat of Oakville North—Burlington last year.
But after a messy nomination race with a local chiropractor, Natalia Lishchyna, both women were asked to step aside by the Conservative party before they publicly ruled whether any of them had broken any internal rules.
On Monday, Adams fought back questions about her perceived opportunism in joining the Grits.
Tory sources told The Huffington Post Canada the Conservative party’s national council recently told Adams she would not be approved to run anywhere.
In a statement, John Walsh, the president of the Conservative Party of Canada, said Adams had requested to seek the party’s nomination in a new seat and he informed her a few weeks ago “that she would not be permitted to run for our Party in the next election due to the misconduct from the Oakville North-Burlington nomination race.”
Adams, however, told reporters she had reached deep into her heart and deep into her mind and was certain she was making the right decision in crossing the floor.
“I haven’t felt at home in the Conservatives party now for many many years,” Adams said, adding that she thought many other progressive conservatives were also having that realization.
One Conservative MP quipped that Adams’ soul searching was essentially: “I have no place where I can run and win as a Conservative.”
In a letter to her constituents last August, Adams said she was stepping down from the nomination race because of health concerns related to a fall she had suffered that February.
“I am withdrawing my candidacy from the nomination in our riding of Oakville North-Burlington due to my slow recovery from my concussion,” she told her constituents.
She noted how she had “volunteered actively and exclusively” for the Conservative party since she was 14 years old. "Long before we had any hope of forming government, I volunteered for our Party more than 60 hours a week," she wrote. She also recounted how she had, in 2011, “defeated a Liberal MP [Navdeep Bains] who was touted by the Toronto Star as a future Prime Minister of Canada and considered a top Liberal organizer for Justin Trudeau.”
Trudeau said the Liberal caucus had discussed welcoming floor crossers last Wednesday but had not discussed the possibility of Adams joining their team. Adams said she would be speaking with Liberal MPs Monday afternoon.
Adams said she delivered a letter to Harper Monday to tell him she was quitting his caucus. She was serving as the parliamentary secretary to the health minister until then.
The NDP decried Adams’ move as that of a “cast-off right-wing MP” who turned her back on voters.