Profiles of a possible (Conservative) Leader: Erin O’Toole
This is the third of four posts looking into the candidates running to replace Andrew Scheer as the Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. Last post I looked at Peter Mackay and in today’s post I’ll take a peak at former Veterans Affairs Minister Erin O’Toole.
Three years ago, Erin O’Toole finished third to Andrew Scheer and Maxime Bernier for the party leadership. Three years ago, was also a completely different campaign. Thirteen candidates were on the ballot. Erin O’Toole was also my #1 choice on the ballot and like so many more my decision to place Andrew Scheer above Maxime Bernier on my ballot helped elect Scheer as the leader of the party.
What a different three years, one election and a pandemic make. Erin O’Toole is back in the race to win the leadership. This campaign seems so much different than in 2017. In 2017 candidates were fighting a campaign on multiple – twelve - fronts, and the Conservative right was aligned with three solid candidates. You didn’t know where the next attack was coming from. In 2020 the field is much smaller, and campaigns can focus on fewer fronts and target messages with greater accuracy.
Because of these changes, the Erin O’Toole running in 2020 is different from the 2017 candidate. The 2017 O’Toole campaign was a kinder and gentler candidate that candidate in 2020, but It makes sense. O’Toole knows where he needs to focus his campaign, and it is focused right on Peter Mackay.
On the issues, O’Toole has been aggressive on China, Huawei and recently has taken on the United Nations wanting to reform the world institution. O’Toole says he will make sure Canada is a leader in global affairs, again not a country that comes third in a three-country race for two seats on the UN Security Council. He’ll begin with the creation of CANZUK, an economic alliance with the UK, New Zealand and Australia. O’Toole has also laid out an economic plan for Canada he’ll implement if elected as PM in the next election.
In 2020 it’s not a given that a right leading candidate will lead the party again. Where does the values base of the party go? O’Toole has been courting the supporters of Leslyn Lewis and Derek Sloan asking them to make him their number two selection on the ranked ballot. He’s been talking about protecting rights and values that the Liberals want to have removed. Being loyal to Andrew Scheer as a valued member of the Scheer Shadow Cabinet certainly will score points for Scheer supporters.
One requirement that could make him the winner is if party members want a sitting MP to become the next leader and to be able to join the Opposition as Leader in the House of Commons from day one of their leadership. In this area the choices are O’Toole or rookie MP Derek Sloan – most party members would choose O’Toole if that were the number one criterion, however there is much more to consider.
O’Toole has the knowledge, experience and the leadership for the party, he also has the support of 37 caucus members, but is that enough to make him look like the leader that party members want that will upend Trudeau in the next election?
To learn more about Erin and his plans for Canada and the Party if elected Leader visit www.erinotoole.ca.