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

A sign indicating a COVID-19 testing site is displayed inside a parking garage in West Nyack, N.Y., Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. The site was only open to students and staff of Rockland County schools in an effort to test enough people to keep the schools open for in-person learning. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
4 more deaths, 54 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

This brings the total to 66 deaths in the region

Surrey RCMP are investigating after a pedestrian was struck and killed at 183 Street and Highway 10 Friday night. (File photo)
Castlegar Sculpturewalk 2020 – 10 Year Anniversary Sand Sculpture. (Submitted/CBT)
CBT arts and culture grant program now accepting applications

Apply through the Kootenay Columbia Cultural Alliance

Energy consultant Michèle Deluca and city building inspector Sam Ellison are researching how to account for embodied carbon when calculating a new building’s carbon footprint. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
Nelson researches climate impact of embodied carbon in new buildings

Embodied carbon is the footprint of the manufacture and transport of building materials

The Quartz Creek watershed is located in the area behind the small community of Ymir south of Nelson. Photo: Tyler Harper
Timber companies swap management of controversial Ymir watershed

Fruitvale’s ATCO Wood Products is now overseeing Quartz Creek

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

Interior Health reported two more COVID-19 deaths at Sunnybank Retirement Center in Oliver Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. (File photo)
COVID-19 claims lives of two more South Okanagan care home residents

Five residents of the Oliver care home have died since the outbreak was first declared

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Modelling of predicted transmission growth from the B117 COVID-19 variant in British Columbia. (Simon Fraser University)
COVID-19 variant predicted to cause ‘unmanageable’ case spike in B.C: report

SFU researchers predict a doubling of COVID-19 cases every two weeks if the variant spreads

The Brucejack mine is 65 km north of Stewart in northwestern B.C. (Pretivm Photo)
B.C. mine executives see bright gleam in post-COVID future

Low carbon drives demand for copper, steelmaking coal

In this Dec. 18, 2020 photo, pipes to be used for the Keystone XL pipeline are stored in a field near Dorchester, Neb.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP
Canadians divided over Keystone pipeline, despite U.S. president’s permit pullback

Two-thirds of Canadians think Biden’s decision was a “bad thing” for Alberta

A woman wearing a protective face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 walks past a mural in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
5 big lessons experts say Canada should learn from COVID-19

‘What should be done to reduce the harms the next time a virus arises?’ Disease control experts answer

Most Read