Home Correction letter O’Toole faces caucus revolt as 35 MPs sign letter calling for leadership review vote

O’Toole faces caucus revolt as 35 MPs sign letter calling for leadership review vote


Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa January 31.BLAIR GABLE/Reuters

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole is facing a caucus revolt, with 35 MPs signing a letter calling for a leadership review vote due to concerns over the official opposition party leadership.

The letter, sent to caucus chair Scott Reid on Monday, would require a leadership review vote by Tory MPs as early as Wednesday’s regular caucus meeting. If more than 50 percent of the caucus votes against him, Mr. O’Toole would have to resign immediately.

MPs are then expected to elect an interim caucus leader while the Conservative Party calls a leadership race. Two sources said at least 63 of the 119 elected Tory MPs are ready to vote against Mr O’Toole.

The Globe and Mail does not identify the eight sources for this story because they were not authorized to discuss internal party matters.

In a statement released late Monday evening, Mr O’Toole said he welcomed the vote.

“I’m not going anywhere and I’m not going back. Canada needs us to be united and serious,” he said in a Facebook post. “It’s time for reckoning. To settle this in caucus. Right here. At present. Once for all.”

A source close to Mr O’Toole said efforts to get rid of him were being led by MPs unhappy that Mr O’Toole decided the party would back the Liberals’ ban on conversion therapy. The government introduced the bill for the third time in the fall, after precedent died in the Senate when the summer election was called.

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The Reform Act 2013, sponsored by Conservative MP Michael Chong and passed by parliament, requires any party that passes it to review its leadership if written notice signed by at least 20% of caucus members is submitted to the chairman of the caucus. huddle.

Internal discussions took place over the weekend within Conservative ranks about whether to trigger a caucus leadership vote, according to the eight sources.

The talks intensified after Mr O’Toole’s office learned that dissidents were trying to round up a minimum of 24 MPs to force a leadership vote, according to six sources.

Conservative Party deputy whip James Bezan called dissenting MPs on Sunday and Monday, warning them of the repercussions if they tried to oust Mr O’Toole, the sources said. Mr. Bezan did not immediately respond to The Globe for comment.

Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner said she supported Mr O’Toole and lamented that his colleagues had sown dissension in the ranks as Canadians seek a sensible alternative to the ruling Trudeau Liberals.

“At this time, our party must be a strong and united voice of opposition. Participating in a leadership race when a vote is already scheduled is counterproductive,” she said.

Ms Rempel Garner said rank-and-file Tories should decide who should be the leader rather than the caucus. She expressed optimism that her fellow MPs will defeat the dissenters on Wednesday.

“I speak on behalf of dozens of my caucus members who are deeply tired and angry about this, frustrated that their voices are not being heard on issues that matter to voters, as story after story after story is about infighting… so I choose to work and urge my colleagues to do the same.

Another Alberta MP, Garnett Genuis, said in a Twitter post that he signed the letter calling for an early leadership review, but did not organize it.

He said about a third of the party caucus, representing a “wide cross-section”, signed the letter “calling for an end to Erin O’Toole’s leadership”.

“Mr. O’Toole should recognize that his position is untenable, rather than using lies to publicly attack members of his own team,” Mr. Genuis said.

Late Monday, Tory MP Bob Benzen voiced support for a caucus leadership review, saying Mr O’Toole had flip-flopped on many issues, citing support for a carbon tax, refusal to challenge the new Quebec law aimed at strengthening the Charter of the French language and the inability to defend the rights guaranteed by the Charter during the pandemic.

“I believe the Conservative caucus has given Mr. O’Toole more than enough opportunity for a change of course to address the concerns of many grassroots members of the party,” the Calgary MP tweeted. “Given Mr. O’Toole’s record as leader, I believe a review of caucus leadership is the only way to avoid a dangerous split in the Conservative Party that may not be fixable.”

A source in Mr O’Toole’s office said the leader had been advised to call the vote as soon as Wednesday’s caucus meeting to end internal dissent. His office was unaware of the letter signed by the 35 MPs.

James Cumming, a former Edmonton MP who wrote a post-election report for Mr O’Toole, had told the embattled leader to have a secret ballot caucus to end insider snipers, two said sources. At this time, Mr O’Toole is not required to face a leadership review until the Conservative Party’s national convention in August 2023.

Mr Cumming had no comment when contacted by The Globe on Monday. But both sources said Mr Cumming told Mr O’Toole that a caucus vote was a legitimate tool and would demonstrate he had the support of a majority of MPs.

Mr. O’Toole cannot order a leadership vote. He would need 24 MPs or more to say in writing that they want one. However, he can persuade loyalist members to apply, according to an MP in favor of such action.

A dissenting MP said the anti-O’Toole faction would favor a clear vote one way or the other.

A veteran Tory MP who backs Mr O’Toole said the leader needs caucus support to function. The MP said most of the 119 elected MPs support Mr O’Toole.

Mr Cumming’s internal review of the 2021 Tory election campaign found Mr O’Toole had come across as overly coached and needed to be more assertive. The report also urged the party to overhaul its team of senior advisers, reduce infighting and do a better job of reaching out to racialized communities.

Cumming’s report also recommends the party improve its election readiness by modernizing its voter identification and contact practices, and changing its nominating rules.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attacked Mr. O’Toole on Monday because some of his MPs – including some critics of his leadership – expressed support for the anti-vaccination demonstration on Parliament Hill, where some protesters waved protests. Nazi and Confederate flags and danced on the grave. of the unknown soldier.

In a sign of Mr. O’Toole’s weakening leadership, Saskatchewan Conservative MPs recently decided to confirm Senator Denise Batters as a member of their regional caucus, even though Mr. O’Toole kicked her out of the national caucus. in November for launching a petition challenging his leadership.

Ms Batters promoted a Nanos poll online showing respondents preferred Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre over Mr O’Toole.

Last Thursday, the party’s Nipissing-Timiskaming riding association became the fourth to seek a leadership review before this summer, rather than in 2023.

With a report by Ian Bailey

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