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Erin O’Toole competes in Conservative leadership debate

DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, for The Standard

DURHAM: Durham MP Erin O’Toole was one of four federal Conservative party leadership candidates taking part in an English language debate on Thursday, June 18th. Mr. O’Toole was joined by Peter MacKay, Leslyn Lewis and Derek Sloan, who are all competing for the party’s leader position. To start off the event, each candidate was given an opportunity to provide opening remarks. “More than ever before, Canada needs a strong Conservative government. We need a principled leader who will unite our party by respecting all Conservatives. A leader who can show more urban and suburban Canadians that their values of liberty, family and equality are at the core of our party. That’s what I’ve done to win my suburban Toronto seat three times. It’s time for a true blue Conservative who can win the next election, and get our country back on track,” Mr. O’Toole pitched. During the face-to-face portion of the debate, Mr. O’Toole was asked how he’d handle the issue of diversity and inclusivity for all. Mr. O’Toole said he’s worked to bring people together each time he’s been elected as Durham riding’s representative. “Bringing people together based on a Conservative approach, liberty, [and] opportunity for all. I would be our first leader from the GTA. I’ve done this in three elections. I will do it again.” He then took aim at Peter MacKay. “Our next leader needs to unite all Conservatives. All voices in our party are welcome. If we don’t unite first as a party, how do we expect to bring people in the suburbs of Ontario, the lower mainland of B.C., [and] first and second generations of Canadians to join our mission for a more competitive Canada, more free, more opportunity. We have to reach out by uniting our party first. Mr. MacKay started this campaign by dividing the party,” Mr. O’Toole said. Environmental issues were also discussed at the debate. “Let me be clear, I will kill the carbon tax, get pipelines built, and win the next election with a real environmental plan. These are three things that Mr. MacKay cannot do,” Mr. O’Toole explained. Candidates also expressed their disagreement with the Federal Liberal’s response to COVID-19, specifically an alleged delayed closure of the borders. “[Justin Trudeau] was ignoring the Conservative party, which was raising [closing borders] in January. In February, I put out a detailed plan on how to stop flights from China, Iran, Italy, other countries that had infections, and to actually get the [employment insurance] system prepared for people that would have to quarantine. By mid-March, Justin Trudeau and Minister Hajdu were still telling people there was nothing to worry about, and closing the border would have no impact. They made the challenge harder for Premier Ford, Premier Legault, and other Premiers across the country who had to respond with the healthcare system,” Mr. O’Toole said.[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]

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