Canada faces ‘terrible moment’ of division, says O’Toole as Tory MPs oust him as leader
A majority of Tory MPs today voted to remove Erin O’Toole as party leader, paving the way for another leadership race just 18 months after the party finished the last one.
The result was not particularly close: 73 of the 118 MPs present — party caucus chairman Scott Reid did not vote — voted to replace O’Toole with someone else.
O’Toole, a four-term Ontario MP who has fought just one federal election campaign as party leader, will be replaced by an interim leader later today after another caucus vote.
After the vote was over, O’Toole formally resigned from his position in a letter to Rob Batherson, the president of the Conservative Party of Canada, according to a source with knowledge of the decision.
In a resignation video posted to Twitter, O’Toole described his time as Tory leader as “the honor of a lifetime” – before warning that “Canada is at a difficult time in our history“.
O’Toole called on politicians and the next Tory leader to ‘recognize that our country is divided and people are worried’, pointing to the ongoing protests taking place just outside Parliament.
“I pledge my support and unwavering loyalty to our next leader and urge all members of our party to come together and do the same,” he said.
“I want to thank the people of Durham, whom I will continue to serve as an MP.”
The source, who spoke to CBC News confidentially, said O’Toole would begin leaving his office immediately.
New Brunswick MP John Williamson, who was a senior official in former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office, immediately put himself forward for the interim position, promising to ensure the party elects a permanent leader as part of a “fair and effective competition”.
Tom Kmiec, a social-conservative Alberta MP who opposed the recent conversion therapy ban bill – saying it would criminalize “normal conversations” between parents and children about “behaviour sexual” – also offered his name for the acting position.
“It will be up to my caucus members to make the final decision,” he told reporters.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet each paid tribute to O’Toole during question period on Wednesday.
“There are many things we disagree on about the direction of this country, but he is committed to serving his country and I want to thank him for his sacrifice,” Trudeau said.
CBC News coverage of Erin O’Toole’s withdrawal
CBC News will have full coverage of Erin O’Toole’s ousting as leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. Here’s how to track progress:
- Starting at 5 p.m. ET, David Cochrane hosts power and politics on CBC News Network, with reactions and analysis from MPs, insiders and former ministers on the future of the party and potential leadership candidates, as well as news on who will become interim leader. That should be decided at 7 p.m. ET. On CBC News Network and streaming on CBC Gem.
- Plug into the world of six on CBC Radio One starting at 6 p.m. ET, or on the CBC Listen app.
- In-depth coverage and analysis continues on CBC The National (10 p.m. on CBC-TV, 9 p.m. ET on CBC News Network, CBC Gem and YouTube).
- Follow CBCNews.ca for regular updates.
- Thursday, CBC Podcast front burner host Jayme Poisson will discuss with CBC.ca Senior Editor JP Tasker the next steps for the party.
O’Toole, who represents the riding of Durham in suburban Toronto, has faced a barrage of criticism from his colleagues for shifting party positions on carbon taxation, balanced budgets and guns. “assault-type” fire during the election campaign.
Anti-O’Toole MPs were also frustrated that the Ontario Conservatives presented themselves as a “true blue” Tory in the party leadership race to move the party to the center when he held the most raised. In the end, enough MPs decided that was grounds for his impeachment.
O’Toole’s warning — that a vote against him and his more moderate view of Canadian conservatism would put the party on the wrong track — failed to rally enough MPs to his side.
WATCH: Tory MPs remove Erin O’Toole from lead in secret ballot vote
Garnett Genuis, one of the MPs who led the fight against O’Toole, was quiet after the vote.
Earlier this week, Genuis lashed out at O’Toole and his team, accusing them of lying about his record to quell a caucus revolt.
Genuis said Wednesday that the lopsided vote against O’Toole gives the party an “opportunity to come together and move forward as a united and focused Conservative party.”
Although he helped lead the effort to get rid of O’Toole, Genuis said he was “absolutely not” interested in racing to replace him.
In a statement after the vote, Matt Jeneroux, an Edmonton-area MP who also supported O’Toole’s removal movement, said the party needed a leader who ‘clearly reflects our values’ .
“We need to restore trust among Canadians and show them that we are strong and stable leaders who are rooted in our values while understanding that we can evolve, learn and modernize our party to reflect everyone,” he said. he declares. “It’s an opportunity for the party.”
Social conservatives and anti-abortion activists celebrated O’Toole’s decisive defeat. O’Toole’s efforts to bring the party to the center of social issues — the party suppressed the abortion debate at the last Conservative political convention, for example — have alienated some conservative ground troops.
“O’Toole has time and again betrayed the party’s socially conservative base with his support for abortion, LGBT ideology, oppressive lockdowns and freedom-destroying passports for abortion-tainted vaccines,” said Jeff Gunnarson, President of the Campaign Life Coalition. “It’s time for this fake conservative to be kicked out.”
Tory MP Eric Duncan, an O’Toole ally and party caucus secretary, thanked the outgoing leader for his service while urging members to “unite” and “focus on defeating the Liberals in of the next elections”.
“Leadership races can be a unifying process. We can be united. We have to be on the same page and we have to go in the same direction and I am very confident that there is a strong will to do so. “, did he declare.
WATCH: Tory MPs vote to remove Erin O’Toole as leader
Ontario MP Michael Barrett, a confidant of O’Toole and a member of his leadership team, said the incumbent leader had done his best to lead the party through uncertain times.
Barrett said O’Toole had led the party for less than a year when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called a snap election last fall, leaving him little time to properly present himself to voters and challenge Trudeau for power.
“It’s been tough being the Leader of the Opposition,” Barrett said. “Now I just want to make sure our party elects a leader who gives us the best opportunity to replace a tired and corrupt Liberal government.”
This development will force the party’s top brass to immediately start organizing a leadership race under a very tight deadline. Elections could be called at any time in this minority parliament.
The Reform Act, the federal law that allows Conservative MPs to remove their leader, does not specify how the next permanent leader will be elected, leaving that decision to the party itself.
The party’s national council will meet as soon as possible to start planning for this race, a party spokesman said. The first step for the board is to appoint a leadership election organizing committee to plan for this contest.
Tory MP Mark Strahl, who disagreed with O’Toole during his time at the top, said the caucus hopes there will be a new permanent leader by the fall.
“I don’t think the party wants a drawn-out process. I think given the minority nature of Parliament, we want to present that face to Canadians as soon as possible,” he said.
“We will unite behind this individual to deliver a strong Conservative message to Canadians.”