Adam’s loss re­flects badly on Trudeau

Lib­eral leader didn’t need to put party through this

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - OPINION - Tim Harper Tim Harper is a na­tional af­fairs writer.

In this sum­mer of melt­ing Lib­eral for­tunes, this Sun­day af­ter­noon in a steamy high school au­di­to­rium was sup­posed to be all about Eve, Dim­itri and Justin.

In­stead it turned out to be all about prom­i­nent Toronto lawyer Marco Men­di­cino and an Eglin­ton-Lawrence Lib­eral re­pu­di­a­tion of in­ter­loper Eve Adams, her fi­ancé and one-time Con­ser­va­tive heavy­weight Dim­itri Soudas, and Justin Trudeau, the Lib­eral leader who brought the duo and their steamer-size lug­gage aboard the list­ing Lib­eral ship.

The win­ner was sup­posed to be the drama queen with the tem­per, the woman who had run afoul of Con­ser­va­tive brass for the bare-knuck­les style - known gener­i­cally as bul­ly­ing - that she and Soudas em­ployed in a previous Con­ser­va­tive nom­i­na­tion bat­tle so tainted that she left be­fore both con­tes­tants were tossed from the ring.

Soudas, the one-time Con­ser­va­tive power bro­ker and loyal spokesper­son for Harper had lost his job. Adams had aban­doned a nom­i­na­tion bid and lost the sup­port of her party. And then Trudeau found the pair while root­ing around in Harper’s blue bin.

Now the one-time, would-be power cou­ple have been cast aside by two par­ties and the Lib­eral leader has taken another po­lit­i­cal hit at the worst pos­si­ble time.

Adams lost her first po­lit­i­cal race of any kind, Soudas was left to shrug when asked what went wrong and Trudeau’s judg­ment can be ques­tioned anew.

We snick­ered when he trot­ted out Adams last Fe­bru­ary as some ma­jor catch for the Lib­er­als. Check that. We guf­fawed.

But Adams was sup­posed to be the woman to take on Fi­nance Min­is­ter Joe Oliver in the rid­ing in Oc­to­ber, ready to brawl with the man whose praises she once sang loudly and proudly.

This was to be a vic­tory for de­fec­tors ev­ery­where, any man or woman whose prin­ci­ples run so deeply they are pre­pared to run across the street to work for the com­pe­ti­tion they once vil­i­fied.

It was sup­posed to be a vic­tory for the long reach of a cen­tral party ap­pa­ra­tus spread­ing its ten­ta­cles deep into the grass­roots of a rid­ing.

In­stead the grass­roots re­coiled and the man who had spent a year cam­paign­ing for this nom­i­na­tion ac­tu­ally won it.

To be fair to Adams, she was an in­ter­loper who ig­nored de­trac­tors — in­clud­ing one who urged her to re­sign be­fore she strode to the mike Sun­day — and worked hard.

Those bare knuck­les were re­placed, she told us, by what she called cracked and bleed­ing knuck­les from knock­ing on doors in the rid­ing dur­ing cold win­ter nights.

For Trudeau, there was no clear win-win, but there was a lose-lose.

He found that spot. Most Lib­er­als be­lieved Men­di­cino had a bet­ter shot at best­ing a sit­ting fi­nance min­is­ter, but at least the party, had it cho­sen Adams, would have loy­ally fol­lowed the leader’s wishes and given the rid­ing the can­di­date hand­picked from head­quar­ters.

Mike Colle, the Lib­eral MPP who had crowed that Adams would win this nom­i­na­tion over his “dead body” was very much alive Sun­day, declar­ing Trudeau has to start lis­ten­ing to the “or­di­nary Joes and or­di­nary Janes” of the Lib­eral party in­stead of declar­ing can­di­dates in a so-called open nom­i­na­tion process.

Men­di­cino point­edly told the au­di­ence he was no ca­reer politi­cian but his life was in Eglin­ton-Lawrence.

A pledge by Adams to move into the rid­ing was met with si­lence by the au­di­ence.

Men­di­cino had won the en­dorse­ment of the party’s former in­terim leader, Bob Rae, York West Lib­eral MP Judy Sgro, former MP Maria Minna and, most loudly, Colle.

They ap­peared re­signed to de­feat. Men­di­cino’s sup­port­ers had charged the rid­ing as­so­ci­a­tion had signed up peo­ple who had no idea what they were sign­ing. They charged this nom­i­na­tion vote had been de­layed un­til Adams had enough sup­port for vic­tory. They blamed Lib­eral head­quar­ters for pulling strings be­hind the scenes.

Adams’ back­ers were called “in­stant Lib­er­als” by Colle who pre­dicted a split party in the rid­ing if she won.

Trudeau didn’t have to put his party through this. He scooped up the drama queen and we got a lot of drama. But in the end, a grass­roots vic­tory only raises more ques­tions about the up­per ech­e­lon of this party.

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