Conservative Party of Canada Leader Erin O’Toole speaks after his win at the 2020 Leadership Election, in Ottawa on Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

‘I don’t drop the ball’: O’Toole promises to fight for West, human rights

O’Toole has already spoken to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, where western alienation was a topic he brought up

Newly elected Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said Tuesday that as leader, and as a prime minister, he will stand up for the rights of women and the LGBTQ community, and he intends to apply that fighting spirit to all his files.

His comments came in his first news conference after winning the race early Monday morning, a victory owed in part to thousands of supporters of avowed social conservative candidates. Those party members backed O’Toole as their third choice, after he promised to always respect their concerns.

The Liberals wasted little time accusing him of being in the pocket of that constituency, suggesting Tuesday he’s going to have to prove that’s not the case by kicking one of those candidates — Ontario MP Derek Sloan — out of caucus.

During the race, Sloan had spoken aggressively about the chief public health officer, as well as abortion and LGBTQ conversion therapy. The language he used to discuss those issues was widely condemned as being racist and bigoted, which he denies.

O’Toole appeared to chalk Sloan’s rhetoric up to a heated leadership race, and said he is part of a united team.

No one should buy the Liberal spin, he said.

“I won the leadership of the Conservative party as a pro-choice Conservative MP, one that won with a strong mandate,” he said.

“That’s how I’m going to lead as the leader of the Opposition and that’s how I’ll be as prime minister. I’m in politics to defend the rights of Canadians to secure a brighter future.”

In remarks to his supporters posted to social media, Sloan said he intends to remain a member of the caucus. He also vowed not to give up.

“I will always stand up for the principles and the values that I ran on in this campaign and I won’t back down,” he said.

“I’ll be sure to share my views with the new leader and I’m confident he’ll listen.”

O’Toole was also set to speak Tuesday with his two other challengers in the race, Leslyn Lewis and Peter MacKay.

Reaching out to them, and their supporters, is part of building his team to both guide the party in the House of Commons, but also in the next campaign.

Lewis will run as Conservative candidate in the next election.

The party will be ready for the next campaign whenever it comes, O’Toole said.

But he doesn’t necessarily intend to be the one to force an election in the confidence vote that will take place after the Liberals’ speech from the throne next month.

“I’m here to fight for the well-being of Canadians across the country and for better solutions, faster responses and excellence in government, and ethical government,” he said.

“We will assess the government going forward on all those criteria.”

O’Toole has already spoken to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, where western alienation was a topic he brought up off the top. The issue is of primary concern to Conservatives in the West who are watching O’Toole closely on the file.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, who had endorsed O’Toole, said Tuesday he also spoke with him for half an hour.

He said O’Toole has proven in the past he’s an ally for the West and will do so in the future, pointing to a commitment in O’Toole’s platform for legislation specifically to encourage the building of oil pipelines.

“I have great confidence in his ability, his wisdom, and his total dedication for fairness for Alberta and a strong future for our resource industries.”

READ MORE: O’Toole pledges to fight for middle class, but ready if election is triggered

O’Toole also intends to meet personally with Quebec Premier Francois Legault in the coming days. Shoring up support in that province is a perennial issue for the party.

Among the leadership contenders, O’Toole handily won Quebec and on Tuesday, named former Quebec MP Alupa Clarke, who chaired his campaign in that province, as a special adviser.

Fred DeLorey, who ran O’Toole’s campaign overall, has also been named the manager of the next national election campaign.

The party also has a new executive director. It has also decided to no longer apply for the federal wage subsidy program. Its earlier choice to do so had been widely criticized by some grassroots members who felt it inappropriate for a political organization to be using the COVID-19 support program.

The leadership race was all about testing the preferences of the party’s grassroots and O’Toole’s task now is to read the tea leaves to figure out the path forward.

A strong signal was also sent by those who backed Lewis.

Lewis entered the campaign a relative unknown, but her efforts gained enough traction to see her finish with a strong third-place showing.

One element that helped propel Lewis forward was the fact she was clear on her social conservative views, and what she would do about it if she had won.

Former leader Andrew Scheer had faltered on that score on the campaign trail and it cost the party in the last federal election.

When asked Tuesday how else he’d be different from Scheer, O’Toole was blunt.

“I have a track record of serving Canada and getting things done,” he said.

“That’s why I’m not famous, I’m not well known. I get things done, I don’t drop the ball.”

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Conservative Party of Canada

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ex-Kelowna city councillor reappointed to ALC

Gerry Zimmermann accepts another two year term to Agricultural Land Commission.

Two hurt in reported stabbing in Enderby

Police respond to reports of stabbing to find two men in similar condition near Canyon Road

Mandatory masks part of SilverStar’s winter plan

SilverStar starts season late to prepare for pandemic protocols

Creative thinkers wanted for North Okanagan hackathon

Talent-themed hackathon will take place at the VIEW in Vernon Oct. 29

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Record-breaking 165 new COVID-19 cases diagnosed in B.C. in 24-hour period

Fifty-seven people are in hospital battling the novel coronavirus

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

Interior Health reports four new cases of COVID-19

First hospitalization since mid-August announced

Rail traffic starts moving after 60-car derailment near Hope

Clean up effort ongoing after 60 cars carrying potash crashed along a rail bridge

Spoon-wielding man draws police presence in Penticton

Police say no one was harmed during the incident

B.C.’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan: Top 5 things you need to know

Jobs training, tax incentives for employers to hire staff and more

March to protect old growth, stop industrial logging coming to B.C. Legislature

Organizers say they want to give frontline communities a bigger say in nearby logging

Most Read