Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says he welcomes a leadership review after learning some members within his party are requesting the caucus to trigger a vote on his leadership on Feb. 2.
“I’m not going anywhere and I’m not turning back,” said O’Toole in a series of posts on Twitter on Jan. 31. “It’s time for a reckoning. To settle this in caucus. Right here. Right now. Once and for all.”
Calls for O’Toole’s early leadership review have been coming for several months. Following a caucus meeting on Oct. 5, 2021, two weeks after the federal election, the Conservative caucus gave itself the power to trigger a vote on leadership review if 20 percent of its members signed a formal agreement.
On Jan. 31 evening, Ontario MP Scott Reid, chair of the party’s caucus, informed MPs that he received written notice with signatures from at least 20 percent of members requesting a review of O’Toole’s leadership.
O’Toole, who was criticized by caucus members for issues such as adopting a carbon tax policy and flip-flopping on firearms issues, defended his vision for the party by contrasting his version with that of Ontario MPP Randy Hillier and former Conservative MP Derek Sloan.
“There are two roads open to the Conservative Party of Canada,” he said. “One is the road of Randy Hillier and Derek Sloan. It is angry, negative, and extreme. It is a dead-end; one that would see the party of Confederation become the NDP of the right.”
“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,” he said on Twitter.
The conservative leader said members now have to choose between the path of “anger” or “optimism” for the direction of the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC).
Responding to O’Toole’s swipe at him, Sloan said O’Toole’s leadership has been an “abject failure”
“He has threatened, silenced, and bullied caucus into submission, and he is finally reaping the seeds he has sown,” Sloan told The Epoch Times.
The Epoch Times also reached out to Hillier but did not receive a reply by publication time.
Trouble has been stirring for O’Toole since last year’s election loss. The calls from within caucus to put his leadership to the test follows last week’s two-day caucus retreat where MPs were presented with the findings of a review into what went wrong in the campaign.
Even before that, O’Toole had been facing pressure from some in his caucus to adopt a tougher stand against a controversial secularism law in Quebec. Some from the social conservative faction of the party also expressed concerns with last fall’s vote on banning conversion therapy.
In his tweet on Jan. 31, O’Toole said he is willing to accept the result of the vote, which will happen by secret ballot on Feb. 2 when caucus members meet.
But the leader is not prepared to go without a fight as he stressed that those who want him to go will also have to accept the result if it turns out otherwise.
“The signers of this letter must accept it, too. They brought it. They’ll have to live with it,” he said.
The Canadian Press contributed to this report.