The federal Conservative Party is set to name its new executive director to replace Dimitri Soudas, the much embattled former staffer who was fired after using his role to interfere in his fiancée's nomination battle.
Conservative sources say the party yesterday chose Dustin Van Vugt as deputy executive director, a newly created position. Van Vugt is expected to take over the top role within a few months. Simon Thompson, who has been the party's interim executive director since Soudas was fired in May, will remain in his role until Van Vugt is confirmed by the party's national council.
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Van Vugt has been chief of staff to Bal Gosal, minister of state for amateur sport, since the spring of 2011, according to proactive disclosure filings on the Department of Canadian Heritage website. Sources told CBC News he was expected to be named to run the party's administrative side.
In a letter to the Conservative national council, party president John Walsh said Prime Minister Stephen Harper was eager to have Van Vugt appointed "to the team."
Walsh also promised a "full vetting and ratification" by the national council should Van Vugt be named as executive director, citing the party's constitution. He said the council will be able to meet Van Vugt at its next meeting in September.
Eve Adams nomination battle can continue
Soudas spent nine years working for Harper but left the Prime Minister's Office in 2011, pledging to spend more time with his family. Shortly after, he started dating Conservative Party MP Eve Adams.
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Harper brought Soudas back last December as Conservative Party executive director to help prepare for the fall 2015 federal election. But that only lasted a few months as Ontario party members complained of Soudas's interference in Adams' Oakville North-Burlington nomination race.
Allegations and counter-allegations started flying in the weeks before Soudas was fired. Most of the Conservative riding association executives in Ontario's Oakville North-Burlington support Adams's opponent, Natalia Lishchyna, a local chiropractor.
Adams is the MP for Mississauga-Brampton South, and parliamentary secretary to the minister of health, but is running for the nomination in Oakville North-Burlington because parts of her riding are being absorbed by others under new boundaries set for 2015.
The party investigated the allegations and on May 22 put the nomination vote on hold indefinitely.
It's expected the nomination can continue once a new Conservative Party executive director is in place.
Van Vugt didn't return a phone call requesting comment.
Party spokesman Cory Hann told CBC News that staffing is "an internal matter."