Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole Pushed Out for Being Too Liberal

O'Toole led the Conservative Party for a brief 17 months and was ousted Wednesday by a decisive majority of Conservative MPs.
Anya Zoledziowski
Toronto, CA
Conservative leader Erin O’Toole was ousted from his role on Wednesday
Conservative leader Erin O’Toole was ousted from his role on Wednesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole was ousted on Wednesday after his caucus revolted against him—likely because he’s too liberal. 

After O’Toole tried to convince his party to let him remain at the helm, a striking majority pushed the Tory leader out, with 73 of 118 Conservative MPs in attendance voting against him. The party’s caucus chair, Scott Reid, abstained from voting. 

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On Monday, O’Toole tried to appeal to his followers for support via a Twitter thread, suggesting that a shift further to the right would make the Conservative Party too extreme to win.

“There are two roads open to the Conservative Party of Canada. One is the road of Randy Hillier and Derek Sloan. It is angry, negative, and extreme,” O’Toole tweeted. “The other road is to better reflect the Canada of 2022. To recognize that conservatism is organic not static and that a winning message is one of inclusion, optimism, ideas and hope.”

Hillier and Sloan are known for their ultra conservative views: Sloan was kicked out of the party about a year ago after accepting a donation from a white nationalist, while Ontario MPP Hillier has espoused anti-vaccine and anti-lockdown views, and called federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra a "terrorist."

O’Toole, an MP for the Durham constituency in Toronto, led the party for a brief 17 months and lost last year’s federal election to Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He originally sold himself as a “true blue” Conservative—shorthand for someone who is conservative through and through—in contrast to his more moderate opponents. 

But critics, including his own early supporters, later accused him of turning out to be more of a centrist. He’s pitched deficit spending in Canada and despite denouncing carbon taxes, proposed one of his own. Early on in his tenure, O’Toole also said his party wasn’t one full of “climate deniers,” mere hours before his party voted against acknowledging that “climate change is real.” 

It’s a divisive time in Canadian politics as convoys full of “anti-mandate truckers” block roads in the country’s capital and a whole chunk of the U.S.-Canadian border between Alberta and Montana. They demand an end to all COVID-related mandates as well as the resignation of federal politicians, including Trudeau. They’ve been accused of racism, homophobia, violence, and shitting on someone’s lawn. 

O’Toole was the only federal leader to speak with the truckers, and several members of the Conservative Party have spoken out in support of the convoys. 

With O’Toole gone, an interim leader will be brought in Wednesday, and another leadership race will be triggered soon. It’ll be the Conservative Party’s third race since 2015. Likely contenders include Ottawa-area MP Pierre Poilievre, who has arguably been the voice of the party in recent months, and Ontario MP Leslyn Lewis.

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