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

Manluk Centre: Wetaskiwin Regional Aquatics and Fitness will be closed to the public until further notice beginning May 10, 2021. Image/ City of Wetaskiwin.
Manluk Centre to close following new provincial restrictions

The Manluk Centre will be closed to the public until further notice beginning May 10, 2021.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Kenney to announce plan for truckers to get COVID-19 vaccinations in nearby states

Alberta is approaching 25,000 active cases of COVID-19, and there are more than 600 people in hospital with the illness

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw asked Albertans to limit travel throughout the province as COVID-19 cases continue to rise. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Red Deer nears 900 active COVID-19 cases

Province reports additional 2,211 COVID-19 cases

Photo (STAR Catholic Logo)
STAR Catholic School Division declines running pilot on K-6 draft curriculum

The Catholic school board conducted an in-depth analysis of the Education Alberta’s draft curriculum

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
County and City of Wetaskiwin COVID-19 cases continue to decline as provincial numbers rise

The County of Wetaskiwin currently has 52 active cases, the City of Wetaskiwin has 73 active cases.

Red dresses hang from trees in a Wetaskiwin park for MMIW awareness. Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer.
Red dresses hang in Wetaskiwin for MMIW awareness

Red dresses hang in various locations across Wetaskiwin for National Red Dress… Continue reading

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The postponement of the event was put in place to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Big truck semi trailer moves on the highway towards sunset
Alberta’s cross-border truckers to be vaccinated at Montana rest stop

2,000 Alberta truck drivers who transport goods across the border will be able to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in Montana

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

People line up outside an immunization clinic to get their Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Edmonton, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Hospital investigating whether Alberta woman who died after AstraZeneca shot was turned away

Woman was taken off life support 12 days after getting vaccine

Two passengers were recently fined thousands of dollars after they faked their pre-flight COVID-19 test results. (Paul Clarke/Black Press)
2 passengers in Canada fined thousands for faking pre-flight COVID-19 tests

The government issued a warning Thursday to others thinking of doing the same – do it and you’ll be ordered to pay

A wild rabbit grazes in Nanaimo, B.C. in this Feb.2, 2018 photo. Rabbit owners in Alberta are being warned about a deadly virus that was identified in a southern Alberta household last month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dirk Meissner
‘Like a flash fire:’ Rabbit owners warned about outbreak of deadly disease in Alberta

The disease is confined to rabbits and cannot spread to humans

A lady wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada may find it challenging to reach herd immunity from COVID-19, experts say

Level of immunity among the population changes with the variants, especially the more transmissible strains

Most Read