Erin O’Toole accused of ‘betraying’ Conservatives as he faces first leadership challenge

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In the first public challenge to Erin O’Toole from within her own ranks, a member of the Conservative Party’s National Council says the Tory leader should face an accelerated leadership review for “betraying” members during the election campaign.

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Bert Chen, an elected National Council member from Ontario, says many party members are upset by Mr O’Toole’s attempt to make the party appear more centrist, which he believes could lead to a loss of seats for the Tories in Monday’s vote. occurred, as well as a lack of support in urban areas.

“The members’ reaction … is that Erin has betrayed their trust, and Erin’s leadership based on these results is a failure, and they need to go,” Mr. Chen said in an interview.

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“Responsibility and integrity are central to what conservatives want from a leader, which is why we don’t like Justin Trudeau. But Erin O’Toole has shown she’s no better than Justin Trudeau.”

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Mr. Chen has launched an online petition to initiate a review of Mr. O’Toole’s leadership. The Conservative Party’s constitution states that the National Council is responsible for holding referendums in response to legitimate petitions, but does not specify the conditions for legitimacy.

During the leadership review, party members vote on whether or not to initiate the process of selecting a new leader.

Even if the bid to force the review fails, Mr O’Toole would eventually face such a vote. The party’s constitution required a leadership review at the party’s first national convention after losing the election. That conference is scheduled for August, 2023.

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In Monday’s election, the Conservatives won seats in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, but lost seats in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia.

As of Tuesday, the Liberal Party was leading or elected in 158 ridings – 12 seats short of the 170 needed to form a majority government. The Conservatives were leading or were elected in 119 ridings, two fewer than the party won in the 2019 election under former leader Andrew Scheer.

After the election, Mr O’Toole said he was disappointed with the Tories’ performance and promised to launch He reviewed the party’s electoral strategy but vowed to remain as leader, arguing that the country could be in another election campaign in 18 months. The party has yet to release details of the review, including who will lead it.

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Mr Chen said he does not trust Mr O’Toole’s review, and that Conservative leaders have not been sufficiently distracted in their public comments about electoral losses. Mr Chen said he was concerned that Mr O’Toole’s harsh remarks about China had made Chinese-Canadians feel uncomfortable.

Conservative Party chairman Robert Batherson said it was important to let Mr O’Toole’s review process do its job. He said Mr Chen did not consult with the council before launching the petition. “We have not even finished counting all the ballots. So I think it’s important that we take the time to listen to MPs, to listen to candidates, to listen to campaign managers, at the grassroots level, Mr Batherson said.

He said that the Conservative Party is a broad coalition of people with different political views. “That’s why we need to have a thoughtful, measured, data- and evidence-driven process that engages members, rather than a hot-headed online petition with no standard as to whether we’re actually grassroots members. are involved,” he said.

Two sources in the Conservative caucus said there is widespread disappointment among Tory lawmakers over Mr O’Toole’s election performance, which could turn into a leadership challenge. The sources have not been identified because they were not authorized to speak publicly about internal party matters.

One of the sources said Mr O’Toole’s senior team is reaching out to elected lawmakers and asking them to raise their voices in support of the Conservative leader on social media. On Wednesday, so did several lawmakers, including Deputy Leader Candice Bergen, who expressed gratitude for Mr O’Toole’s leadership.

Meanwhile, the party has excluded candidates and MPs from its Constitution Information Management System (CIMS), a database containing the names of supporters and party members. Party spokesman Corey Hahn said it is “standard operating procedure after every election campaign.” But one of the caucus sources said MPs see the move as an attempt to discredit the petitions against Mr O’Toole’s leadership, making it difficult to determine if any signatures belong to party members. Or not.

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A source close to Mr O’Toole’s campaign said Conservative leaders are calling on all contestants, including losers and elected candidates, to speak about the campaign. The source said the response has been positive.

The source said Mr O’Toole supports using a different accelerated review mechanism: an existing provision in the Reform Act that would allow his leadership to trigger a review if 20 percent of the Conservative caucuses call for it. The Granthshala is not identifying the source, as they were not authorized to speak publicly.

Conservative Senator Don Pellett said in an interview on Wednesday that it was too early to draw conclusions about Mr O’Toole’s leadership, given the expected review of the party’s handling of the election.

“Now is not the time, in my opinion, to point fingers until we know the things that went right and wrong,” Mr Pellet said. “When you lose, you always say you could have done better. When you win, you are happy. I can’t tell you with any concrete information that he could have done better.”

Find out what’s happening in the halls of power with the day’s top political headlines and commentary, handpicked by Granthshala editors (clients only). .

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