Erin O’Toole: A look at the new Conservative leader and what he is promising

Erin O’Toole has won the nomination to become the next leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.

The Ontario MP, who will take over the party’s top job from Andrew Scheer, won by a margin of over 4,700 points on Sunday.

Read more: Erin O’Toole is the new leader of the Conservative Party, wins on third ballot

A record 174,849 ballots were cast in the virtual leadership convention, with O’Toole beating out former Conservative minister Peter MacKay, Toronto lawyer Leslyn Lewis and MP Derek Sloan.

“Today you have given me a clear mission: to unite our party, to champion our conservative principles, to show Canadians what we know so well: that Justin Trudeau and his team are failing our great country,” O’Toole said in his victory speech.

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“We must continue to point out Liberal failings and corruption, but we must also show Canadians our vision for a stronger, prosperous and more united Canada. Canada can and must do better and Conservatives will work hard to earn the trust and confidence of Canadians in the next election.”

Read more: LIVE BLOG: Erin O’Toole named new Conservative Leader

O’Toole’s nomination comes during a contentious time for politics in Canada and around the world. The party was left to search for a new leader following Scheer’s resignation — a search that has been decided amid global unrest and the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Who is Erin O’Toole?

O’Toole’s first foray in politics came in 2012 following a byelection in the Ontario riding of Durham.

A former Royal Canadian Air Force officer, O’Toole’s campaign website states that he first enrolled in the RCAF when he was 18, serving out of Halifax and working as a tactical navigator in search and rescue missions.

New Conservative leader ‘will not be able to give Alberta everything it wants and needs’: political scientist
New Conservative leader ‘will not be able to give Alberta everything it wants and needs’: political scientist

After 12 years of service, O’Toole would drop his Canadian Forces uniform and pick up a suit in 2003 after a law school education at Dalhousie University.

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Specializing in areas like corporate law and energy regulation, O’Toole worked at firms such as Stikeman Elliot and Heenan Blaikie, and would also provide counsel to companies like Procter & Gamble and Gillette.

Read more: Conservative leadership race: A look at the contenders and what they stand for

After he was elected, the Montreal-born MP became part of then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet — taking over the Veterans’ Affairs portfolio in 2015.

O’Toole’s handling of the portfolio would also grant him recognition during his short tenure in cabinet, where he was able place a class action lawsuit on hold in order to start settlement negotiations with a group of Afghanistan veterans.

Four candidates vying for Conservative leadership
Four candidates vying for Conservative leadership

Following a bid for party leadership in 2017 in which he finished third, O’Toole would then be appointed as the shadow minister of Foreign Affairs, a position he has held for the last two years.

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What’s his platform?

Running on a leadership slogan he describes as “True Blue Conservative,” O’Toole released a 50-page platform to cater to “middle-class suburban voters, women and new Canadians.”

O’Toole’s promises lean on Conservative values more than his competitors, with a large focus on the Canadian economy and its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more: Strong support for Conservatives under new leader, but candidates underwhelm: poll

His platform for the economy includes creating a fiscal stability plan to balance the budget and reverse the Liberal government’s small business tax hike. O’Toole also pledges to create a pandemic royal commission to prepare Canada for “future threats” while looking into state of long-term care homes, which were devastated during the crisis, while also creating a back to work agenda to restore income to working Canadians.

Several other areas of his platform include increasing Quebec’s autonomy, creating an action plan for relations with Alberta and the West and taking a hardline approach on foreign relations — especially with the Chinese government.

Andrew Scheer compares left-wing rhetoric to communism in final speech as party leader
Andrew Scheer compares left-wing rhetoric to communism in final speech as party leader

O’Toole also explicitly pledged to end Bill C-69 — which was an overhaul to how Canada reviewed large infrastructure projects — as well as to criminalize the blockading of railways or ports.

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Read more: Analysis: End of Andrew Scheer era means shift eastward for Conservative power

Several prominent Conservative party members like Alberta Premier Jason Kenney have also given endorsements to O’Toole.

To date, his campaign has raised at least $2.48 million — the second highest amount out of the four candidates.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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