On February 2nd, 2022, the caucus of the federal Conservative Party voted to remove Erin O’Toole as leader. The vote was 73 to 45 in favor of his removal.
The decision by the caucus was no surprise. The party was disintegrating under O’Toole’s leadership. He failed not only as a politician, losing seats and with a lower popular vote in the September 2021 election. He also was a failure as a leader of men and women.
Instead of building a united, cohesive Conservative party, O’Toole recklessly wielded a cleaver to slash at the caucus, leaving its members both resentful and deeply divided.
O’Toole’s inadequacy as leader stemmed from the fact that he tried to change the party from one upholding genuine conservative principles to a party that was left of centre. In effect, under O’Toole, the party became a Liberal-lite party, contrary to the views of millions of Canadians who would traditionally be sympathetic to a principled conservative party.
O’Toole displayed a dislike, bordering on contempt, for members of his own caucus who were unwilling to follow his policies and those of his Red Tory advisors. He vindictively shut them all out of his shadow cabinet and silenced them.
In addition, O’Toole continuously flip-flopped on major political issues without bothering to consult the caucus.
Fast Tracking Conversion Therapy (Bill C-4)
This immense dissatisfaction about the Conservative leadership came to a head after Conservative MP Rob Moore (Fundy Royal) presented, on December 1, 2021, a Motion in the House of Commons to send the highly controversial Bill C-4 (Conversion Therapy) directly to the Senate for approval without debate, committee review or vote. Such an action is completely contrary to standard parliamentary procedures. The conversion therapy bill made it a criminal offence to help anyone, at any age, to undergo conversion therapy to change their sexual orientation, or to accept their sex at birth, even with their consent. The definition of conversion therapy is so broad that it will ban any attempt at counselling by parents, experienced professionals, or even by pastors who pray to change an unwanted orientation, or to welcome one’s natural sex.
According to information obtained from some Conservative MPs, many were blindsided by Moore`s motion. Although the issue of fast-tracking the conversion therapy legislation had been discussed in caucus, there was no consensus on the matter. In addition, the motion was timed to take place just when MPs were in the process of leaving the floor of the House of Commons after Question Period. They were caught off guard and were unable to raise objections to the motion in the few seconds following its introduction.
This betrayal of the caucus by O’Toole was another example of his personal left-wing policies. He brought his watering can and fertilizer to left-wing policies in order to ensure that they became firmly embedded in Canadian soil, to flourish and thrive, regardless of the views of a more discerning public.
Whither the Conservative Party?
The Red Tories who run the Conservative Party, as well as countless newspaper columnists, have long insisted that the only way the Conservative Party of Canada can win an election is for the party’s policies to mirror the left-wing policies of the media, especially on social issues. This has proven to be poor advice.
The Conservative Party is dependent on the donations and support of ordinary Canadians such as hockey/soccer parents, housewives, small business owners, etc., not wealthy politically progressive elites. Additionally, the party ignored the multicultural communities, faith based institutions and individuals, and just ordinary hard-working taxpayers. They have all been marginalized, as well as the members voting in nominations and grass roots organizers, who may not necessarily share a left of centre perspective. These groups have all been ignored by the party. This may explain why donations to the party fell 68% in the past quarter (the Liberals’ fell 50% and the NDP’s fell 36%, possibly because of the pandemic). In previous years, conservative donations far exceeded that of the other parties.
The major lesson to be learned from the O’Toole disaster is that the party can succeed only if it takes into consideration the opinions of its natural supporters. If the party fails to learn this lesson, and elects yet another leader who ignores its supporters, the party will fail again. It was O’Toole’s constant pursuit of the left of centre votes and his disregard for those right of centre, the natural foundation of the party, which led to the conservative loss in the last election. Many of its traditional supporters placed their vote with Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party. This gave the Liberals their razor thin win in many ridings and the minority government. A new Conservative Party leader must bring unity to the party. This is where real leadership comes in. The Party needs a leader who checks his/her ego at the door and understands the value of consensus in leading, and that consensus once reached, is by definition, open to refinement, re-examination, and restatement based upon new facts and data.
The political right united before with the Reform/Alliance/Conservative mergers of the late 1990s and early 2000s. The time is now right to do it again. If the party fails again to elect a leader who has genuine conservative roots and beliefs, it will not be able to stop the dangerous policies of the Left that are bankrupting Canada economically, socially, and politically its future is grim. All that it needed is a leader who understands and is respectful of the views of its supporters, consisting of millions of Canadians, many of whom would be relieved to be rid of the incompetent, divisive Justin Trudeau Liberal government.
Canada today has changed. No longer are Canadians willing to follow the tone deaf political elites who believe it is their right to command us.