The first public challenge to Erin O’Toole’s leadership of the Conservative Party has begun following the Tories’ election defeat on Monday.

As reported by the Canadian Press Wednesday:

  • Bert Chen, a member of the Conservative Party’s national council, is calling for O’Toole to undergo an early leadership review by party members.
  • Chen has organized an online petition asking the party’s national council to arrange a leadership review before the one currently scheduled for 2023.
  • The petition so far has 600 signatures, but party president Rob Batherson told CP: “At no time is an online petition, which is open to be influenced by Liberals or members of any other party, part of (the leadership review) process.”
  • Chen said members of the party are upset by what they perceive to be O’Toole’s “moderate” direction during the election campaign.

But was O’Toole’s campaign really “moderate”?

  • While it is true that O’Toole reneged some hardline Conservative positions he promised to implement during his leadership campaign — such as defunding the CBC and repealing the national carbon tax — some argued that O’Toole’s “moderate” sounding positions are not really moderate in practice.
  • The Conservative Party’s carbon-pricing plan was panned by experts as being “woefully out of touch with climate science today.”
  • In the middle of the election campaign, O’Toole changed his party’s gun control policy and promised to maintain the Liberals’ ban on 1,500 assault-style weapons until a classification review is completed.
  • But gun control advocates said in a statement during the campaign: “Mr. O'Toole has not committed to maintaining the assault weapons ban, nor has he committed to enshrining the ban in legislation and preparing to buyback the now-prohibited guns."

The Toronto Star reported Wednesday: "The Star spoke to more than 15 plugged-in Conservative sources in the wake of Monday’s election ... The near-unanimous view is that O’Toole will have a difficult fight ahead of him to maintain his grip on the party leadership."

  • As well, the Star notes, threats to O'Toole's leadership are not coming from any one faction inside the party, but from every corner of the "big blue tent."
  • An anonymous MP told the Star: "Erin led us to this loss and now is trying to detach himself (from) any responsibility. He either doesn’t understand the significance of these losses or he wants to pretend they don’t matter.”

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