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

Pixabay image
Surrey recovers 29,000 jobs it lost to pandemic

That’s according to Surrey Board of Trade’s fifth Surrey Labour Market Intelligence Report on COVID-19

Delta City Hall. (James Smith photo)
Volunteers sought for City of Delta committees

Applications are due by Friday, Feb. 5

(James Smith photo)
North Delta crime beat, week of Jan. 11

A selection of property crimes submitted weekly by the Delta Police Department

The SACH Community Hub team, from left to right: Upkar Singh Tatlay, Gary Thandi, Allysha Ram, Jassy Pandher, Harman Pander. (Submitted photo)
There’s help for South Asian men wrestling with drug addiction in Surrey

South Asian deaths related to toxic drugs increased by 255 per cent between 2015 and 2018

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO) is looking into the death of man discovered Jan. 11 in east Maple Ridge. (Black Press files)
B.C.’s police watchdog investigating man’s death in Maple Ridge

Man was found dead Jan. 11 after recent contact with police

Chilliwack Law Courts. (Black Press file)
Man sentenced to 20 months for sexual offences involving a minor in Mission

Will Laws Clark was 22 and victim was 13 at time offences began

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

A Kelowna couple welcomed their Nooner baby in December. (Flytographer)
Kelowna couple welcomes baby girl from Hotel Zed Nooner campaign

Nicole and Alex will now have 18 years of free stays at the hotel

The Abbotsford Tulip Festival is permanently closing, with plans to eventually set up in Armstrong, B.C. (Abbotsford News file photo)
Abbotsford Tulip Festival is closing, with plans to rebloom in Armstrong

Event organizer says pandemic and sale of land were factors in decision

Most Read