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

FILE - Nathan Cullen speaks to media in Smithers, B.C., Friday, February 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, Cullen apologize for Stikine candidate’s comments about Haida candidate

Nathan Cullen had made insensitive comments about Roy Jones Jr. Cheexial

BC Liberal Party candidate for the North Coast Roy Jones Jr. will hold virtual face-to-face meetings for North Coast communities on Oct. 18. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
BC Liberal Candidate Roy Jones Jr, will meet constituents virtually

Face to face conversations will be held on Oct. 18 for North Coast communities

Kelly Lynn Whitney has been acclaimed as the successful candidate on Oct. 16, in the Village of Port Clements by Election. Seen in photos Kelly Whitney-Gould is pictured putting finishing touches on “Ms. Gnomer’s Home 4 Wayward Folk.” (Kelly Whitney-Gould/Submitted photo)
Kelly Lynn Whitney acclaimed in By Election

Village of Port Clements By Election success

Stikine provincial election candidates (clockwise from top left): Nathan Cullen, NDP; Darcy Repen, Rural BC Party; Rod Taylor, Christian Heritage; and Gordon Sebastian, BC Liberals.
‘Where is Annita McPhee?’: Cullen under fire from opening salvo of all-candidates forum

Four Stikine candidates spar during online debate from Prestige Hudson Bay Lodge in Smithers

In this photo provided by Shannon Kiss, smoke from the CalWood Fire billows, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, as seen from Gunbarrel, Colo. (Shannon Kiss via AP)
‘First guys out:’ western Canadian air tanker fleet busy despite drop in wildfires

CEO believes wildfires have become more dangerous in recent years as people live closer to where they start

(Black Press Media files)
B.C. suburbs could see increased demand for rental units as people work from home

Vancouver’s average monthly rent is the highest out of 35 cities across Canada

Fort St. John councillor Trevor Bolin (B.C. Conservative Party)
BC Conservatives leader fights back after BC Liberals leak 2018 workplace harassment case

Sexual harassment case was connected to employee being terminated, WorkSafeBC found

The BC Ferries vessel the Queen of Oak Bay. (News Bulletin file photo)
‘Buy a boat,’ Horgan advises anti-maskers on BC Ferries

NDP leader John Horgan talks COVID-19 misinformation

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada-USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. Restrictions on non-essential travel between Canada and the United States are being extended until at least Nov. 21. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
Non-essential travel restrictions at Canada-U.S. border extended to at least Nov. 21

The restrictions do not apply to those providing essential services in either country

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Jordan Naterer, 25, was last seen Saturday Oct. 10. He planned a hike in the Manning Park area, and has not been seen since. Photo Facebook.
Family devastated as search for missing Manning Park hiker suspended

‘It was an extremely difficult meeting with the parents when we had to tell them.’

FILE - Nathan Cullen speaks to media in Smithers, B.C., Friday, February 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, Cullen apologize for NDP candidate’s comments about Haida candidate

Nathan Cullen had made insensitive comments about Roy Jones Jr. Cheexial

Six Mile Beach outside Nelson is known for its perfect sand, clear water and unique sand spit. But the drowning death of a man in July has residents asking if the dangerous spot has become too popular. Photo: David Grantham/Kootenay Drone Services
Dangerous oasis: The fatal history of a popular Kootenay Lake beach

Six Mile Beach near Nelson is known for its unique sand spit. But locals have feared it for decades

Most Read