DAN CEARNS, The Standard
SCUGOG: Canada Day, on Saturday, July 1st, will be Erin O'Toole's last day serving the Durham riding, as the Member of Parliament (MP).
"I'm excited about [Canada Day in Port Perry]. I have so many friends here; people are even thanking me today. Canada Day is a day to celebrate our country [and] rededicate ourselves to it. For me, to be able to thank all of the communities who supported me so well in these almost 11 years, it's a perfect way for me to close the political chapter of my life," MP O'Toole told The Standard.
He explained why he made the decision to vacate his seat, after the spring session. "I made the decision a number of months ago, in part because, being the former leader, I want the new leader to have the opportunity to build the team and the vision he wants. I was also able to accomplish a lot of great things in the riding." MP O'Toole continued. "I kind of felt, a number of things I've championed, for a number of years, were finished. Our kids are still at home, but they're getting older. So, it was a perfect window and then a perfect opportunity for me to work in the private sector. So, I gave the community and my riding association the heads up, so people could look into becoming the Conservative candidate."
MP O'Toole served as the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada from 2020 until 2022. He was recently hired to work for [the] advisory firm ADIT North America.
So far, two people have announced their intentions to run, as the Conservative Party candidate, in the riding: Robert Rock and Jamil Jivani. MP O'Toole had some advice for whoever fills his shoes as Durham's next MP. "Listen to the needs of the community first and foremost. Then try to be a serious voice in Ottawa. Propose changes, don't just criticize the government. Encourage and inspire people to sign onto those changes, and allow the people in Scugog, Clarington and Oshawa to see their MP in action."
He also spoke about his relationship with current leader Pierre Poilievre. "I have a good relationship [with him]. We're different leaders; we have different styles. He's very good in the [House of Commons] and can be a very good communicator. I think I brought a lot of real-world experience and tried to bring a bit more national vision. But the times call for different leaders and different styles. I think coming out of the pandemic, when I wasn't able to win the seats I needed to, that allowed people to look for another leader [which] maybe had their frustrations in mind."
Despite losing the party's support as leader, after the 2021 election, Mr. O'Toole is leaving the job as Durham's MP with no regrets.
"I think we modernized the party, both from an operational standpoint and a policy standpoint. The Liberals used the pandemic and the vaccine mandate to try and split our movement. I like to think I, not only modernized the party; I made sure we survived and won the popular vote in a very tough election [which] really could have led our party to blow up. I kept it together."