Ottawa-Conservative leader Erin O’Toole called on Wednesday the ideologically-driven liberal government to put Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s needs ahead of the nation’s needs.
O’Toole’s public remarks at the start of his weekly caucus meeting come at a time of high stakes for the leader, whose every move is being scrutinized as he failed to topple Trudeau’s liberals in this summer’s election.
With parliament reopening this week, O’Toole attempted to direct that investigation across the aisle as he called the Liberals a failure to address the most pressing issue of the day – the economy.
“Instead of standing up for the Canadian people, we have a prime minister who always puts his own needs ahead of yours,” O’Toole said.
He also criticized Trudeau’s “ideological” cabinet, which he called for “focusing on shutting down industries and stifling investment in our country while Canada sinks into debt and division.”
O’Toole said it is conservatives who actually speak for Canadians in parliament, adding that they will stand up for businesses, workers, farmers, fishermen and the energy sector – a line that drew great enthusiasm from his team. attracted.
“Canadians want us to be fearless in defending this country and our freedoms,” he said.
“Canadians need a professional, ethical and experienced Conservative team to respond to this tired liberal government and provide Canadians with a clear choice.”
A belief that O’Toole was not strong enough during the election campaign to stand up for foundational conservative principles – such as support for the energy industry – fuels some of the discontent in the Conservative ranks that sparked public calls for review. His leadership has emerged.
O’Toole’s moves to quell that dissent include ousting Sen. Dennis Batters from the party’s caucus after he launched a petition for a leadership review.
The party has said that the petition, which it continues to sign, is invalid.
The pressure on O’Toole isn’t just from within the Conservative ranks. The Liberals refused much of his party’s refusal to reveal the COVID-19 vaccination status of its MPs ahead of the resumption of parliament.
Some Tories oppose disclosing their vaccination status on the grounds that it is a breach of confidentiality, while other Conservatives have raised questions about the need to make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory.
But with the vaccination mandate now on Parliament Hill, no Tory MP has been sidelined for refusing vaccination, although it is believed some may have been given a medical exemption from the requirement.
O’Toole has declined to confirm whether any Conservative lawmakers have been exempted from vaccination, which liberals say could potentially leave parliamentary staff and lawmakers at increased risk of exposure to COVID-19.
On his way to a meeting of the Liberal Caucus on Wednesday, Trudeau said it was the Conservatives who had the wrong focus.
“We’re focused on fighting climate change. We’re focused on growing the economy. We’re focused on reconciliation, what kind of things Mr. O’Toole should be focusing on,” he said. said.
“Instead, he is focusing on getting (vaccination) exemptions for his lawmakers.”