Erin O'Toole, Canada's Conservative leader, is ousted

MONTREAL — Erin O’Toole, Leader of the Canadian Opposition Conservative Party was ousted in a vote against his leadership on Wednesday, ...


MONTREAL — Erin O’Toole, Leader of the Canadian Opposition Conservative Partywas ousted in a vote against his leadership on Wednesday, giving a political boost to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s minority government, rocked by pandemic fatigue and divided opinions over his handling of the country.

In a secret ballot, the Conservative caucus voted against Mr O’Toole, 73 votes to 45, according to a statement from caucus chairman Scott Reid. The vote was forced by a petition from caucus members worried that Mr O’Toole had strayed the party too far from its core Conservative values ​​on social issues.

On Wednesday evening, the caucus chose Candice Bergen, deputy leader and former cabinet minister, as the party’s interim leader. Party rules do not allow Ms. Bergen, who is from the prairie province of Manitoba, to run for the position permanently at an upcoming leadership convention.

The vote against Mr O’Toole appears to have been triggered by Tory MPs angered by his support for a Liberal government bill ban conversion therapy earlier this year.

The vote is something of a political giveaway for Mr Trudeau, a polarizing figure who has grappled with the Omicron variant invasion and escalating frustration over pandemic restrictions. There are also economic challenges, including inflation of almost 5%, the highest in 30 years.

While a survey of January 27 by the Angus Reid Institute, a non-profit polling group, showed about half of Canadians approved of Trudeau’s handling of the pandemic, his overall approval rating fell to 42% from 50% one year ago.

The Conservative Party is now looking for a new leader for the third time in five years. The ousting of Mr. O’Toole, 49, also suggests a widening rift between his more socially conservative wing, which is largely based in Western Canada, and his fiscally conservative and socially liberal wing which is centered in Ontario, the most populated. province and Mr. O’Toole’s house.

Mr O’Toole, who was defiant before the vote, offered some advice to his successor in a pre-recorded video after the vote.

“This country needs a Conservative Party that is both an intellectual force and a governing force,” he said. “An ideology without power is vanity. Seeking power without ideology is pride.

He added that he would remain the local MP for his riding, in an area east of Toronto.

Even before the vote on Mr O’Toole’s leadership, some frustrated Tory MPs were already calling for his departure after he failed to defeat Mr Trudeau’s Liberals in his first federal election to lead the Party. curator in September. It was the Conservative Party’s third consecutive loss to Mr. Trudeau.

Mr O’Toole, who was chosen as leader less than two years ago, came to the election campaign as an unknown among Canadians. He was elected Conservative leader by appealing to the right of the party with a platform that promised to “take Canada back.”

Once installed as leader, however, it veers quickly to the left and alienated many members of the conservative wing of the party with his attempt to broaden the party’s appeal. After failing to win last fall’s vote, Mr O’Toole was criticized by right-wing Tories for being a political clone of Mr Trudeau, posing as a Tory.

Among other things, he reneged on his promise not to introduce a carbon tax and incurred the ire of some members of the Conservative caucus by reneging on his promise to repeal Mr. Trudeau bans about 1,500 models of military-style rifles.

He also sought to portray himself as a compassionate conservativedistancing himself from the party’s social conservatism on issues such as LGBTQ rights and abortion while reaching out to union members, a group that has traditionally supported the center-left New Democratic Party.

Ultimately, however, Mr. O’Toole’s repeated shifts on political issues raised questions about what exactly he stood for, said Duane Bratt, a professor of political science at Mount Royal University in Calgary, in Alberta.

‘It happened really suddenly,’ Professor Bratt said of Mr O’Toole’s ousting. “But all the roots were there. I would say the roots were there even before the election.

While the Conservatives won a token victory in the last election, taking the largest share of the popular vote, the concentration of Conservative support in places like Alberta means it hasn’t translated to the greatest number of seats. Mr. O’Toole also faced criticism after the Conservatives failed to perform well in electorally important urban centers like the Toronto area and Metro Vancouver despite his shift to the center.

“There’s an obvious ‘you didn’t win the election, get out’ feeling in the Conservative movement that probably isn’t right,” Professor Bratt said. “He probably needed two tries.”

The strong and sometimes violent trucker protests and others against vaccination mandates and pandemic measures, which have crippled downtown Ottawa since the weekend, again exposed the tensions between Mr. O’Toole and his caucus. It was only after several caucus members, including Ms Bergen, endorsed the move that pro-vaccination O’Toole joined. But unlike many caucus members, he nevertheless kept his distance from the protests themselves and only met with representatives of the group at an undisclosed location and without the presence of reporters.

In contrast, Mr. Trudeau, in keeping with the overwhelming public mood, called the protesters a fringe group and condemned them for violenceracism and the dissemination of false information.

The current Conservative Party was created in 2000 by the merger of the Canadian Alliance, which began as a Western protest movement, and the Progressive Conservative Party, which formed Canada’s first modern federal government in 1867.

Professor Bratt said there is little left in the party of more moderate Progressive Conservatives.

“There were times when he was trying to jump in and drag his party to the center,” he said of Mr O’Toole. “And there were elements of that party that didn’t want to go in that direction. There is no more progressive wing in this party.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Erin O'Toole, Canada's Conservative leader, is ousted
Erin O'Toole, Canada's Conservative leader, is ousted
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