ERIN O’Toole is the new leader of the Conservative Party after garnering 57 per cent of the total votes in the third and final round, with Leslyn Lewis dropping out after the second round. Peter MacKay won just over 42 per cent of the votes.
O’Toole in his victory speech said: “We could be into an election campaign as soon as this fall. But as more than 260,000 passionate Conservatives have already shown in this record breaking leadership amidst a pandemic – the Conservative Party will be ready for the next election. And we will win the next election.”
He said: “Our country is currently facing its most serious economic challenges since the Great Depression. Capital and jobs have been leaving Canada and large deficits were being run before the COVID crisis led to record debt and deficits.”
O’Toole added: “Our country is more divided than it has ever been in my lifetime. People are losing faith in Canada because of the ideological and out of touch policies from the Liberals.
“We just emerged from the largest health crisis in our history. Premiers across our country have shown real leadership amid the COVID-19 crisis. They were looking out for you. [Prime Minister] Justin Trudeau, [former finance minister] Bill Morneau and the Liberals showed – once again – that even amid a national crisis – they were more interested in looking after their friends.”
O’Toole said he believed he should lead Canada because “whether you are black, white, brown or from any race or creed, whether you are LGBT or straight, whether you are an Indigenous Canadian or have joined the Canadian family five weeks ago or five generations ago, whether you are doing well, or barely getting by, whether you worship on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, or not at all, you are an important part of Canada and you have a home in the Conservative Party of Canada.”
He added: “Maybe you have voted for a different party your whole life, or have never voted at all. Maybe you feel that as a union member you should not vote for our party. Maybe you feel let down by politicians. Maybe your family came here for “better” but you are still waiting for “fair” treatment. Maybe you run a small business and work all day only to be called a tax cheat by your government.
“It is time for many Liberal and NDP voters to socially distance themselves from these out of touch parties. It’s time for more Canadians to look at the Conservative Party again.”
He called the Bloc Québécois outdated and said nationalist Quebecers have an important place in the Conservative Party.
O’Toole said: “Canada needs serious leadership for these challenging times.”
ACCORDING to his campaign website, O’Toole was born in Montreal. He enrolled in the RCAF when he was 18 and attended the Royal Military College. He did basic training in Chilliwack, BC; got his wings in Winnipeg, MB; and served out of Halifax, NS. Erin participated in search and rescue missions as a tactical navigator. He is bilingual.
After 12 years of service, Erin retired from the military and spent the next decade working in the private sector as a corporate lawyer. He is a founding member of the Board of Directors for the True Patriot Love Foundation, a charity that serves veterans and military families across Canada.
He has been elected three times in Durham (2012 by-election, 2015 and 2019). He served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade before becoming Minister of Veterans Affairs, a beleaguered file he successfully turned around within 10 months at the end of the Harper government.
For the last two years, Erin served as Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs. Erin is married to Rebecca and they have two children, Mollie and Jack.