SCUGOG: After being reelected as Durham MP last week, Erin O’Toole has turned his attention to the role of interim leader of the Conservative Party.
Earlier this week, the 42-year-old O’Toole announced his candidacy for the position. A relative newcomer to the national polictical landscape, O’Toole was first elected in a byelection in 2012 following the resignation of Bev Oda. He has quickly risen through the ranks in Ottawa, and the former air force captain and lawyer was tabbed as Veterans Affairs Minister earlier this year. If selected as the interim leader of the party, one of his first priorities would establishing new goals for the party, which will sit for the next four years as the Official Opposition.
“I really think we have to show that we’re serious about rebuilding right from Day 1 and I think the interim can be part of that,” O’Toole told the Canadian Press earlier this week, adding that he believes that he can hold his own speaking French in the House of Commons.
“We need to show that we’re bringing a new approach. I think we can get that out of the gate and start rebuilding and then whoever wins the leadership can take over a unified, strong party that’s ready to be serious in four years.”
Mr. O’Toole has carried on the legacy of his father, longtime local MPP John O’Toole, by being active and engaged with the public, and pens a bi-weekly column in The Standard to keep local residents informed. As well, prior to changes in the boundaries for Durham Riding, Mr. O’Toole kept office hours in Uxbridge to stay engaged with all corners of his riding. He noted to the Canadian Press that the Conservatives should look at a different approach with communications going forward.
“We shouldn’t fear debate,” O’Toole said. “Our party has always been a party of ideas and principles. I think we should be really proud to talk about those more and not as worried about missteps.”