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

Salmon Arm RCMP say residents have been receiving calls from fraudster claiming to be with Publishers Clearing House. (File photo)
Salmon Arm RCMP warn of fraudster claiming to be with Publishers Clearing House

Police say scammer requests fee to claim sweepstakes prizes

In response to complaints from residents and city hall, a sign was erected recently at the east end of Salmon Arm, asking truckers to avoid the use of engine brakes, particularly as they head down the hill into town. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Salmon Arm gets hopeful sign in quest to reduce trucks’ engine brake noise

Mayor asks RCMP to patrol hill on Trans-Canada Highway between 30th St NE and McGuire Lake

During her PhD, Dr. Sylvie Harder spent several field seasons at an international research station in the Swedish Arctic, researching the impacts of climate change on permafrost environments. (Contributed)
Salmon Arm raised climate scientist brings expertise to West Coast Environmental Law

Sylvie Harder looks forward to helping B.C. communities develop climate change solutions

Salmon Arm Silverbacks defenceman William Lavigne (left) tries to rub out Vernon Vipers forward Max Bulawka in B.C. Hockey League Okanagan Cup action. Vernon completed a home-and-home sweep of the Gorillas with a 4-3 overtime win Saturday, Oct. 17, at the Shaw Centre. (Lisa Mazurek - Vernon Vipers Photography)
Vernon Vipers sweep Salmon Arm

Snakes win 5-2 at home Friday, 4-3 in overtime Saturday at the Shaw Centre

A puppy is cared for at the Kelowna BC SPCA. Image: BC SPCA
Puppy recovers from virus after being seized from Princeton farm

The pup was one of the 97 animals seized by the BC SPCA in September

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

A file photo of an RCMP dog. (Campbell River RCMP photo)
Lawsuit claims Kelowna man suffered ‘vicious’ attack by RCMP dog, handler

Fernando Verde claims he was resuscitated at the hospital and needed emergency surgery following the attack

(File photo)
Letter: Exercise your brain, don’t rely on technology

Writer dismayed by dependence on computers to do basic math

A disposable but improperly discarded face mask sits on a wall outside a downtown Salmon Arm business. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)
Editorial: Don’t like using disposable masks, go reusable

Others shouldn’t have to pick up improperly discarded face masks

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

A B.C. man decided to create a website to help people find family doctors accepting patients. Because Victoria is considered high-demand, clinic openings can’t be posted publicly. (Unsplash)
Vancouver Island man starts website that connects B.C. residents with doctors

Nanaimo man started project to help people find family physicians accepting patients

Most Read