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

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

Langley City Coun. Gayle Martin was ‘appalled’ by Cloverdale-Langley City MP Tamara Jansen’s Commons comment calling the city a ‘ghost town’ (file)
VIDEO: Langley council presses MP to explain ‘ghost town’ comment

Response by Cloverdale-Langley City Conservative MP Tamara Jansen failed to answer question: Martin

Langley Township civic facility. (Black Press Media files)
Two cannabis shops close to approval in Langley Township

There were more than 20 initial applications spread across multiple locations

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million

A virtual marketplace and food concierge service has been launched by Willowbrook Shopping Centre in Langley (Special to Langley Advance Times)
Willowbrook Shopping Centre in Langley launches virtual marketplace and food concierge service

Customers can go online to shop product assortment assembled from centre’s food and beverage tenants

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which cause COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, NIAID-RML
B.C. ramping up screening for faster-spreading COVID-19 ‘variants of concern’

B.C. has sequenced about 11,000 COVID-positive samples since last February

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

Keygan Power with brother Quintin and mom Allison while camping the weekend before Keygan’s brain hemorrhage on Aug. 2, 2020. (Photo Allison Power)
B.C. teen ‘locked inside,’ battling to regain speech after severe brain bleed

16-year-old suffers traumatic loss of function, still plays a mean game of chess

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Surrey RCMP are investigating after a pedestrian was struck and killed at 183 Street and Highway 10 Friday night. (File photo)

Most Read