Conservative Party of Canada leadership candidate Erin O’Toole speaks in Toronto on Thursday, June 18, 2020. O’Toole was chosen as the party’s leader on Monday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin

Conservative Party of Canada leadership candidate Erin O’Toole speaks in Toronto on Thursday, June 18, 2020. O’Toole was chosen as the party’s leader on Monday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin

Erin O’Toole wins Conservative leadership after results delayed for hours

Victory secured after three rounds of counting

Conservative members sought stability Monday in choosing Erin O’Toole as leader after a campaign where he focused on keeping the party close to its “true blue” fundamentals.

O’Toole secured his victory in the leadership race after three rounds of counting. The results had been expected Sunday night but were delayed into the early hours of Monday morning after problems opening the envelopes containing several thousand of the estimated 175,000 ballots sent in by mail.

“To the millions of Canadians that are still up, that I’m meeting tonight for the first time: Good morning. I’m Erin O’Toole, you’re going to be seeing and hearing a lot from me in the coming weeks and months,” O’Toole said in his victory speech.

“But I want you to know from the start that I am here to fight for you and your family.”

His victory over rival Peter MacKay could spell the end of MacKay’s political career. It is also likely to immediately raise questions about the future for progressive Conservatives, who hoped that with MacKay, the party could finally move past the debates around social conservative issues.

But even if MacKay had won, both men would have found themselves grappling with the surprise success of Leslyn Lewis, the Toronto lawyer who placed third in the contest, despite never holding office and entering the race as a near-total unknown.

Derek Sloan, who was also running with the support of social conservatives, placed fourth with 4,864 of the available points after the first round of counting.

O’Toole’s victory reflects a pitch he’d made to both their supporters in the waning weeks of the race, asking them to use the ranked ballot to make him their number 2 or number 3 choice.

His sell: with a seat in Parliament, and the political experience necessary for the job, he was the best choice to lead the party forward, but he would ensure their views would remain respected as well.

Bringing together the party’s various factions will be one of O’Toole’s challenges, and the results also showed some fault lines regionally.

In the first round, Lewis beat out both O’Toole and MacKay in Saskatchewan and placed second to O’Toole in Alberta, a reflection of her ability to connect strongly with the grassroots there.

With none of the four candidates hailing from the West, all eyes had been on how the party’s western base would voice its concerns over the candidates and the campaigns in the vote.

O’Toole spoke to them, to voters in Quebec, and to all prospective Conservative voters in his speech Monday morning, saying that no matter a person’s race or religion, sexual orientation, how long they’ve been in Canada, income level or education, they matter.

“You are an important part of Canada and you have a home in the Conservative Party of Canada,” he said.

O’Toole takes over the party — and the job of Official Opposition leader — exactly a month before the minority Liberal government will deliver a throne speech laying out a post-pandemic recovery plan.

READ MORE: Peter MacKay campaign dismisses O’Toole team’s theft allegation

The vote on the speech is a confidence motion and the Liberals have all but dared the Tories to try and bring them down.

Much of the leadership race itself was shaped by the pandemic. The vote was supposed to take place in June, but was pushed back and for a time, the campaign itself was paused.

A leadership convention, the kind filled with thousands of supporters, was jettisoned in favour of a hybrid in-person and virtual results reveal after an entirely mail-in ballot vote.

Those had to be returned by Friday, and while counting was underway throughout the day, the machines tasked with slicing envelopes malfunctioned on Sunday, requiring several thousand ballots to be extracted and replicated by hand under the close eye of scrutineers.

It led to an excruciating wait for the candidates, their campaigns, and the party staff and volunteers. MacKay passed the time doing push-ups in his hotel suite, O’Toole doing live Zoom chats with supporters.

THE CANADIAN PRESS

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

Politics

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Town of Sylvan Lake has launched a new contest to attract a new business. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Sylvan Lake offering rent-free storefront space to lure new businesses

Winning business proposal will get a storefront space rent-free for a year

Alberta reported an additional 399 cases of COVID-19 Thursday, on 9,217 tests, for a test positivity rate of 4.3 per cent. (Image courtesy CDC)
Red Deer down to 562 active COVID-19 cases

8 new COVID-19 deaths, 399 additional COVID-19 cases

Mike Ammeter (Photo by Rebecca Hadfield)
Sylvan Lake man elected chair of Canadian Canola Growers Association

Mike Ammeter is a local farmer located near the Town of Sylvan Lake

Students and staff at Gateway Christian School wore pink Wednesday in support of Pink Shirt Day, a worldwide anti-bullying initiative that was started in 2007. (Photo courtesy of Red Deer Public Schools)
Students, central Alberta community celebrate Pink Shirt Day

Mayor of Sylvan Lake Sean McIntyre supports anti-bullying cause

City of Red Deer has nearly doubled its active COVID-19 case count since Feb. 10 and has 75.6 per cent of the Central zone’s active cases. (File photo)
Another new high: Red Deer hits 574 active COVID-19 cases

Province reports 13 new COVID-19 deaths, 430 new cases

Bookings for COVID-19 vaccines for people age 75 or older start Wednesday. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Updated: Delays for seniors booking for vaccine appointments

By 9:20 a.m. Wednesday, 4,500 seniors had booked their appointments

Emily Keeping of Wetaskiwin, Alta., was last seen at 4:20 p.m. on Feb. 25, 2021 at the FasGas on 49 St and 50 Ave in Wetaskiwin. Supplied/ Wetaskiwin RCMP.
Wetaskiwin RCMP seek assistance in locating missing 11-year-old

Emily Keeping was last seen on Feb. 25, 2021 at the FasGas on 49 St and 50 Ave in Wetaskiwin.

Alberta premier Jason Kenney, right and Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General, provide details about Bill 13, the Alberta Senate Election Act., in Edmonton Alta, on Wednesday June 26, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Minister Doug Schweitzer talks on Enhanced COVID-19 Business Benefit

Provincial government rolling out new benefit this April to better help small businesses.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
NDP will not trigger election as long as pandemic continues: Singh

‘“We will vote to keep the government going’

Minister Rick Wilson poses with Katie at the Boys and Girls Club of Wetaskiwin, both wearing her Pink Shirt Day design. Facebook/ Boys and Girls Club of Wetaskiwin.
Wetaskiwin Boys and Girls club Pink Shirt day design focuses on kindness

Katie with the Boys and Girls Club of Wetaskiwin created this year’s Pink Shirt Day design.

Black Press File Photo
Valentine’s Day shooting in Maskwacis leaves one male in hospital, one male in custody

19-year-old Francis Edward Nepoose from Maskwacis has been charged with attempted murder.

Sentencing delayed in the stabbing death of Samantha Sharpe, of Sunchild First Nation. (Red Deer Advocate file photo)
Central Alberta man not criminally responsible for killing his father in 2020: judge

Psychiatrist testified Nicholas Johnson was psychotic when he killed his father

The cover of “Hometown Asylum: A History and Memoir of Institutional Care.” (Submitted)
Ponoka-born author writes history of old mental hospital

“Hometown Asylum: A History and Memoir of Institutional Care” covers 1911 to 1971

Most Read