Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole faces first caucus meeting after election loss

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Conservative leader Erin O’Toole will face her caucus on Tuesday for the first time since her party’s disappointing election defeat two weeks ago.

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119 Conservative lawmakers are set to gather in person in Ottawa where, among other things, they must decide whether they want the power to review O’Toole’s leadership.

Under a law passed in 2015, each party’s caucus is required to decide after the election whether it wants to empower its members to initiate leadership reviews, for which at least 20 percent are supported by the caucus. Written notice is required.

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The rule also allows lawmakers to choose their own caucus chair and make decisions about whether someone should be expelled from the party.

A spokesman for O’Toole says the leader has always supported these legislative provisions and believes that members should vote as they see fit.

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The Conservatives ended the September 20 election with two fewer seats than they won in 2019 under former leader Andrew Scheer, who resigned as leader under intense pressure shortly after the federal election.

O’Toole’s team also lost five incumbents who appeared to be a minority and failed to make the expected gains in the major battlefields of the Greater Toronto Area, Metro Vancouver and Quebec.

During the campaign, O’Toole took the unusual step of adding a footnote to his election platform, promising to repeal the Liberal ban on so-called assault rifles, which covered about 1,500 types of firearms. He eventually decided to keep the ban – despite party policy stating otherwise – and instead subject it to review.

Even before entering the campaign, O’Toole’s move to put a more liberal stamp on the party by distancing himself from previous leaders in the hopes of securing more seats in Quebec and Ontario left some in the Conservative movement, notably Living in its western heart region, is feeling less than affected.

A member of the party’s National Council from Ontario has already started an online petition to collect signatures from Conservatives, who feel O’Toole betrayed the party’s core values ​​and is currently scheduled for 2023. Want to vote on your leadership before review.

“It should come as no surprise that many mainstream media types are telling the Conservatives that we should be happy with our second-place finish in last week’s election,” British Columbia Conservative MP Mark Strahl tweeted recently.

“Second place is exactly where they want us to be. Conservative members expect (first) and will never be satisfied (second).

While concerns have been expressed about the party’s electoral performance, O’Toole argues that, under his leadership, the Conservatives increased their share of the vote in Ontario and Quebec by three and four percentage points, respectively.

“This means the party has already become more competitive over the past year, and we are now within a considerable distance – the seats come after the increase in vote share,” he said in a recent party fundraising email. said.

O’Toole also touted the fact that the party won a handful of seats in Atlantic Canada, came within 2,000 votes in some 30 ridings and now boasts a youth caucus with more women and LGBTQ representation.

Some of his lawmakers, such as newly elected Representative Leslyn Lewis of Ontario, who was a favorite among party grassroots and social conservatives in last year’s leadership race, have taken to social media to say they have a similar fate to Shear. should be spared.

Others are standing in line to say that the last thing the party needs in another minority parliament is to start itself from scratch by launching a new leadership contest.

“As a leader, though, I know that when we don’t win an election, we need to ask ourselves why. That’s what I plan to do,” O’Toole told the fundraiser. Said in the pitch.

He has promised to review the electoral damages, but has not yet announced what the scope will be and who will lead the postmortem.

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