Conservative MPs are defending the hiring of Dimitri Soudas, who was fired on Sunday less than four months after he was named to run the Conservative Party of Canada.
Soudas, the party's executive director, interfered with the nomination race in Oakville-North Burlington, the southern Ontario riding where MP Eve Adams is battling local chiropractor Natalia Lishchyna to represent the party in 2015.
Adams is engaged to Soudas and is currently the MP for Mississauga-Brampton South, a riding that's being split in 2015.
In December, Prime Minister Stephen Harper pushed for Soudas's hiring, going as far as to invite members of the party's national council to 24 Sussex Drive and having a show-of-hands vote to ratify him.
Some Conservative MPs wouldn't answer questions about his firing on their way into the House of Commons on Monday, or said they knew only what they had read in media reports.
While some MPs criticized Soudas, none blamed Harper for the hiring.
Treasury Board President Tony Clement said it's normal in politics for people to "come and go."
"These circumstances were unusual, I'll grant you that," he said of Soudas's short time as the party's chief staffer.
"We're talking about political parties here. We're not talking about the governance of the nation. This is not in any way a judgment on the prime minister.… I don't really see this as the end of the world," Clement said.
Industry Minister James Moore, was succinct about what Soudas's short employment term meant: "I suppose [it says] hire on merit, fire on performance."
'Shouldn't have been interfering'
The party has emphasized its open nominations, which put Soudas's work on behalf of Adams into sharper contrast and raised the hackles of some caucus members, sources told CBC News.
Many MPs said Soudas was out of line.
"He obviously shouldn't have been interfering and he appears to have been, just reading the news reports, and you can't do that. So I think it's best he stepped down," said David Tilson, the MP for Ontario's Dufferin-Caledon riding.
"He was trying to stick up for his girlfriend and he shouldn't have been. It has nothing to do with the prime minister."
Etobicoke-Lakeshore MP Bernard Trottier said the next person to fill the party's top job should be someone "who understands the rules, [and] also doesn't necessarily have any vested interests, [who] has the best interests of the party [at heart]."
PM's judgment questioned by NDP
New Democrat MP Charlie Angus told the House that Soudas's hiring is "just the latest" appointment by Harper to "go south."
"He blew the Supreme Court appointment. His chief of staff is facing the cops. The Conservative brand is now synonymous with Duffy, Wallin, Brazeau and Carson. Oh, and he rewarded bagman Irving Gerstein, a law-breaker, with a plum appointment," Angus said.
"What is going on with the prime minister's judgment when yet another insider goes down to the eve of destruction?"
Conservative MP Rob Merrifield, the MP for Alberta's Yellowhead riding, said Harper chooses the best people for the job as he knows them at the time of the appointment.
"People are human, people make mistakes. I don't think you can criticize the prime minister for people's mistakes. He appoints over 5,000 people a year. He's going to get most of them right, a few of them wrong. I think that's just natural," he said.