Conservative parliamentarians deposed Erin O’Toole as leader on Wednesday, enraged by the main opposition party’s third straight election loss to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals in 2021.
The news: Replacing O’Toole, who took over as Conservative Party leader in August 2020, was a 73-45 vote in the legislature. He had promised to beat Trudeau, but instead led the right-wing party to a poor election result in 2021.
- In a Facebook post, O’Toole stated that he would remain in Parliament and pledged “unwavering commitment” to the new leader.
- The party chose Candice Bergen, the Conservative deputy leader, as interim leader on Wednesday night, ahead of a convention to determine a permanent replacement to O’Toole. Bergen, who has been a member of parliament since 2008, came under fire last year after an undated photo surfaced of her wearing a “Make America Great Again” cap, a phrase popularised by former U.S. President Donald Trump.
What’s going on: Some disgruntled Conservatives said that O’Toole had pushed the party too far to the centre during the election campaign, unveiling big proposals without consulting the party.
- The strategy, according to O’Toole, who represents a parliamentary district in Ontario’s vote-rich province, was necessary to woo more moderate voters.
- Many in his party, which has a strong populist component, were irritated by the action. With his departure, the Conservatives are expected to move more to the right.
- Pierre Poilievre, the party’s finance critic and a right-wing favourite, is one of the potential leadership candidates. He backed a truckers’ strike against COVID-19 immunisation mandates that has immobilised central Ottawa.
- Insiders say O’Toole originally distanced himself from the protest, which enraged some MPs at a time when they were already dissatisfied with his performance.
What’s important: The removal of O’Toole could be good news for Trudeau, who has now defeated four Conservative leaders and can rule while his opponents are preoccupied with succession worries. A leadership convention has yet to be scheduled.
- Trudeau leads a minority government, but he can count on the left-wing New Democrats to help him enact legislation. He expressed gratitude to O’Toole for his assistance.
- Trudeau’s party, according to one senior Liberal strategist, must avoid sounding triumphal.
- Some fear a split in the Conservative Party, which was formed in 2003 by the merger of a center-right party and populist right-wing party. Following the vote, MPs emphasised the party’s unity.
“There is never a good time for a lot of things but sometimes you have to deal with them,” Pierre Paul-Hus, the party’s public safety critic, told reporters. Legislators will select an interim chief later on Wednesday.