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

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

Submitted
BC VOTES 2020: John Rustad re-elected in Nechako Lakes riding

The result is based on preliminary vote count and the final results will be available after Nov.6

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

RCMP stock photo (Black Press)
Charges laid against Prince George man, 39, in drug trafficking probe

Tyler Aaron Gelowitz is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 18

B.C. doctors encourage patients to reach out for telephone or online care during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
How was your virtual care experience through the Omineca Medical Clinic?

The clinic has an online survey for patients in the region

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

Most Read