Canadian Conservative Leader Ousted by Party

Opposition party might swing further right after departure of Erin O'Toole
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 2, 2022 5:15 PM CST
Canadian Conservatives Oust Party Leader
Trucks are parked on Metcalfe Street as a rally against COVID-19 restriction continues in Ottawa, Ontario, on Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022.   (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press via AP)

(Newser) – The leader of Canada’s Conservative Party was ousted Wednesday. Erin O'Toole, who failed to defeat Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in last year’s election and angered his party’s lawmakers by moving the party to the center, is the third main political rival Trudeau has helped bring down, the AP reports. Party lawmakers voted 73 to 45 on Wednesday to remove Erin O’Toole. Trudeau thanked O'Toole for his service. "It is a very, very difficult life for even the most successful of us," Trudeau said. O'Toole's removal has big implications for the conservative movement in Canada. With him gone, the party could swing back further right and in a more populist direction.

O'Toole said this week that lawmakers of his party had a choice between extremism or inclusion that better reflects the Canada of 2022. O’Toole advertised himself as "true-blue Conservative" when he ran for the party's leadership in 2020. He became leader with a pledge to "take back Canada," but immediately started working to push the party toward the political center. His strategy, which included disavowing positions held dear by his party’s base on climate change, guns, and balanced budgets, was designed to appeal to a broader cross-section of voters in a country that tends to be far more liberal than the United States.

"It’s a chance for a fresh start. We do need to rebuild and reflect on the last election," Conservative lawmaker Marilyn Gladu said. Mark Strahl, another Conservative lawmaker, said the next leader needs to respond to the "curtailment of freedoms" Canadians have seen during the pandemic. "What is our view on vaccinate mandates in the federal sector?" he said. "Should people be fired who are working from home because they are not vaccinated?" One of the leading candidates to replace O'Toole is Pierre Poilievre, a polarizing lawmaker who has met with protesters railing against vaccine mandates and other COVID restrictions in Ottawa. (Read more Canada stories.)

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