NORTH DURHAM: After months of speculation, MP Erin O’Toole officially announced his candidacy for the position of leader of the Conservative Party on Friday, Oct. 14th.
The announcement was made at Soper Creek Park, in Mr. O’Toole’s hometown of Bowmanville.
“With the right leadership, our party can once again show Canadians that we are there for them and their families. Our party needs a leader with experience, a track record of getting things done, and someone with a fresh perspective,” Mr. O’Toole told those in attendance.
Mr. O’Toole said his military and private sector experience, as well as his experience as an MP and as the former minister of Veterans Affairs, makes him the perfect candidate for the position.
“I’ve learned what it takes to lead and to succeed,” he said.
He also said it was special for him that he was able to make this announcement in his hometown, and with his family in attendance.
“We drove by the house I grew up in on the way here, and it means a lot to have my parents here and my family here, because I am really a kid from the suburbs that was taught to work hard, and Canada’s the type of country [in which], if you work hard [and] respect your fellow citizens, there’s nothing you can’t do,” Mr. O’Toole said.
The former Conservative cabinet minister had previously run for the interim leadership of the party, eventually losing that race to Rona Ambrose.
“The interim leadership race was a great experience for me. I got to meet the 33 new (members of parliament) on our team and speak to them, get to know their passions for serving Canada,” he said. “The difference between that race, and this one, is I intend to win this one,” he added, which led to laughs from the crowd.
Mr. O’Toole also said if he does win this race, his main focus would be trying to win back the support of those in Atlantic Canada.
Mr. O’Toole’s father John O’Toole, who was a former MPP for Durham, said he thinks Erin has what it takes to bring the Conservative Party back into favour in the country.
“I believe he is a true spoken person, he comes from this very subdivision that we are in, and some of his old friends were here today, so he is grounded in that respect,” he said. “His achievements and hard work have been a lot of his own effort. Joining the military at 17 years of age was important for him, and he’s got the discipline and desire and, I believe, the intelligence to handle the job.”
The former MPP also had some advice for his son moving forward with this campaign.
“Be principled, listen more than you speak, try to be optimistic, demonstrate leadership and trust and I think that is all the advice I have for him,” he said.
The party will officially elect a leader, at a convention on, Saturday, May 27th.