O’Toole Pledges to Fight for Middle Class, but Ready If Election Is Triggered

August 25, 2020 Updated: August 25, 2020

Newly-elected Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says he wants to work constructively with the Liberal minority government to bring effective leadership to Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic.

O’Toole says his party will be ready if an election is called.

The Liberal’s speech from the throne, set for Sept. 23, will lay out the government’s post-pandemic plan and will be followed by a confidence vote.

The new Conservative leader says he told Trudeau he wants the government to address western alienation in its throne speech—a key campaign issue O’Toole has vowed to address.

In his opening statements, O’Toole positioned himself as a “fighter” who understands ordinary Canadians and is ready to rebuild Canada’s post-pandemic economy.

He also spoke of reorienting international trade towards ties with like-minded countries while distancing from “predatory countries.”

“We will trade freely with free nations and not spend our time chasing trade deals with predatory countries like communist China,” he said. 

O’Toole said healing Western alienation and division in Canada will not happen if Ottawa does not support the resource sector. 

“If they continue to leave out the ability for our resource sector to get Canadian resources to market, we’re going to see more Western alienation, we’re going to see less jobs and opportunity for Canadians in Ontario, in Atlantic Canada,” he said.

“So we need to make sure that Canada’s strength in natural resources is part of that economic plan. We can do that while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but we have to be proud of what we produce here in Canada.”

O’Toole also vowed to broaden the party’s base of support while healing any internal rifts, and called on Liberal and NDP voters to reconsider the conservative party. 

O’Toole spoke with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday, a call both sides said was cordial and touched on the rigours of a campaign as well as the prorogation of Parliament.

O’Toole spent his first day on the job on Monday meeting with senior members of the party, including former leader Andrew Scheer, as he strives to refresh the Opposition Leader’s Office and the party’s front benches.

A key strategy for the O’Toole campaign had been to focus on the fact he had a seat in the House of Commons and was ready to start work on defeating the Liberal government. 

O’Toole said he will soon announce his new shadow cabinet.

With files from The Canadian Press